19 April, 2021

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According to this writer, "we're obviously in a bubble, across multiple asset classes, with no idea when it'll pop." How spot on do you think his position is?

In today's edition:

  • Nigeria's SIM fiasco
  • Crypto takes a beating
  • Is it a little gimmicky?
  • TC Insights

Nigeria's SIM card fiasco takes a turn

In the past month, I have reported on the decision of Nigeria’s Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to suspend the sale and registration of new SIM cards. It was a decision that cost people and multinational companies money.

Despite the brilliant analysis by several publications, the minister, Dr Isa Pantami, held firm and insisted the decision was for the good of national security.

On Friday, he backed down from that position, with the ministry announcing that the sale of new SIM cards can now begin. But the ministry’s change of heart has come at the expense of some new trouble for the minister.

Last week, Dr. Isa Pantami was wrongly reported to be on the U.S terror watch list; at the time, I thought the reporting was a little lazy because it was clear that the Daily Independent hadn’t done its due diligence.

Yet, the publications that stayed on the story did stronger coverage, and yesterday, Dr. Isa Pantami reportedly recanted some of his past “controversial statements.”

The bottom line: There’s now a campaign to get the minister to resign his appointment and it is curious how quickly things can change. Dr Pantami, who was absolutely unmoveable in his stance on the suspension of SIM cards is now fighting for his job.

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Crypto bloodbath sees market drop by $120 billion

The cryptocurrency world has been on such a bull run that only a hardened pessimist could have seen the reversal of fortunes coming.

Yet, on Sunday morning, $9.2 billion in crypto long positions were liquidated in 24 hours - that's a new record in liquidations - with over one million positions being wiped off the books. The single biggest position saw a BTC trade on Binance lose $68.73 million.

It forced the price of Bitcoin down to $52,000 while alt coins also took a huge hit.

Gimmick or Innovation?

If you could invest money into an artist’s music in the same way you can buy shares on the stock market - with the possibility of earning dividends if they become the next Wizkid or Davido - would you do it?

Last week, Edwin wrote about a partnership between the fintech startup, PiggyVest, and the UduX, a streaming platform, that would allow fans to invest in their favorite artists. It sounded a lot like what Mr. Eazi, a Nigerian musician had proposed last year.

Question: is the idea of fans crowdfunding an artist in exchange for “equity” a gimmick or an innovation?

First I did some digging and this equity crowdfunding model isn’t a new idea. Sellaband, a German startup created in 2006 and backed by $5 million in funding pioneered the idea- the company would go bankrupt four years later.

There are also articles about crowdfunding artists that date back to 2012. It was the year that the Dresden Dolls star, Amanda Palmer raised $1.2 million from her fans to release her solo album using the platform, Kickstarter.

At the time, her strategy, which cut out traditional record labels was called the “future of music” and many articles after that have promised that the equity model “could explode.”

The model hasn’t exploded yet, but a few people remain convinced that it could really change how the industry works. I’m still somewhere in the middle with this but here’s a helpful place to start your reading.

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TC Insights: Guard rails

In the past, you could only buy Africa’s off-grid solar products if you could afford to pay outrightly. This put lower-class households, particularly those in rural areas at a disadvantage.

However, with the growth of the pay-as-you-go (or PAYGo) market across Africa, this is changing. Consumers no longer have to pay outright for solar products but can provide down-payments and pay in periodic installments for electricity generated.

As of 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest percentage of solar products sold through PAYGo models compared to regions like South Asia, East Asia and Latin America. In South Africa, all solar products were sold through PAYGo channels, while Central, East and West Africa sold 84%, 89% and 92% respectively.

The relationship between mobile money and the PAYGo model is mutually beneficial. While PAYGo is successful in Africa because of the prevalence of mobile money services, mobile money operators also gain more customers and get more value from existing customers due to the proliferation of the PAYGo model on the continent.

Research shows that 21 to 31% of PAYGo solar customers were new to mobile money, or reactivated their accounts after being inactive for 90 days or more. Also, existing mobile money account holders ramped up their mobile money usage from 27% to 113%.

This means that as mobile money penetration deepens across markets, an increasing number of companies will adopt the PAYGo model. While this will help their profitability, it will also mean that consumers get to afford larger products. However, it’s also important that consumers are well informed about the process, especially unbanked consumers with no prior exposure to the consumer-financing model.

It is crucial that they understand the repayment structure, as well as any risks involved, so that they are not put under any undue financial strain. Governments can support consumer-protection regulations, but these policies should be formulated with the goal of enabling and not restricting financial inclusion.

Although the PAYGo model is allowing more Africans to access sustainable power sources while driving financial inclusion, this inclusion should not come at the expense of the consumer. The necessary guard rails must be put in place so the model does not defeat its own purpose.

Get The Future of Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa report by TechCabal and StearsData here. Send us your research requests here and get the rest of TechCabal’s reports here.

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Written by - Olumuyiwa

Edited by - Koromone Koroye & Edwin Madu

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