14 MAY, 2021

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“Countries around the world reported importing more than $91 million worth of Nigerian charcoal in 2018 alone and more than $80 million in 2019, while the country reported just $4.5 million of charcoal export in 2018 and about half that amount in 2019” – The New Republic

In today’s edition:

  • Quick Fire 🔥
  • Musk’s turnaround on BTC
  • Airtel’s Q1 result
  • TC Insights

Quick Fire 🔥 with Sheilah Birgen

Explain your job to a five-year-old.

I help people know each other so that they can work on things together. Sometimes I am also like a parent, I ensure everything is okay.

What keeps you up at night?

Insomnia. Hehehe, just kidding, I think about progress, sometimes deadlines, other times opportunities for my company and how best I can support the team and the startups we work with.

What’s something you wish you knew earlier in career/life?

I wish I learnt much earlier to trust myself a little more. I wasn’t very confident in my strengths or abilities, which in a way pushed me to want to learn more, to listen more, but it almost became obsessive to the point where I wasn’t sleeping because I wanted to research and read. When someone would compliment my knowledge of something, I would doubt them.

What’s your favourite book?

Oh wow! This one is a difficult one for me to answer because I read at least 2 books each week. I have so many books that I consider my favourite. If I must choose one from my favourite books this year, it will have to be ‘The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty by Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo, and Karen Dillon. It is quite a profound book because it talks about our approach to innovation in developing countries with very good examples from Africa and other relatable developing countries. They discuss a number of case studies by looking at innovative products, solutions and approaches.

What (singular) achievement are you most proud of?

Wow, this is a difficult and reflective question because I rarely look or think about that in my career. I am always on the go and once I do something, it is over, I want to start or move to something else. To be honest, I had to ask for help on this question from a few people in my circle and the majority mentioned how resourceful people in my network are. So, I would say that that is something that I am very proud and grateful for. I value people in my network.

A genie gives you one wish for the African tech ecosystem, what would yours be?

My answer will be very cliche, we need togetherness – UBUNTU mentality. This pandemic has shown us our interconnectedness as a people. It has also shown us (and the world) the massive opportunities available in Africa, look at the number of investments Africa startups have raised in the middle of a pandemic.

I don’t see and understand how a startup from Lesotho or Djibouti or any other African country should struggle to set up in another country (regulatory environment aside). I feel ecosystem players in the new country should help them by providing a discount in their coworking spaces for Africans from other countries, sharing an office for a few days, making a few introductions and recommendations. As Africans, together we are our greatest resource.

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Musk’s turnaround on BTC

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, has been one of the more vocal supporters of cryptocurrency. His company accepted Bitcoin as a means of payment and even put the coin on its balance.

He’s also been one of the supporters of the meme coin, DOGE but in a stunning turnaround, Tesla will no longer accept Bitcoin as a means of payment for its vehicles.

It cited environmental concerns over how BTC is mined. Musk tweeted, “we are concerned about the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”

Although Tesla won’t sell any of the Bitcoin it holds, the announcement sent BTC and other altcoins into free fall.

My takeaway: No one man should have all that power.

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Airtel’s Q1 revenue receives a data boost

Airtel Africa has released its financial report for Q1 2021. Its biggest market – Nigeria – recorded an impressive $422 million revenue for the quarter.

That represents a 12% increase in revenue from the same period last year when it reported $377 million.

Like MTN Nigeria’s Q1 report released last week, the report shows a pattern of tepid growth in voice revenue for telcos in Nigeria.

While voice revenue represents more than half of Airtel Nigeria’s revenue at $240 million, it only grew 2.9% from last year. Data revenue, however, is snowballing, contributing 35.4% of revenue, the highest contribution of data to date.

Across the rest of Africa, growth remains strong as $1.038bn was generated across the business.

This revenue growth resulted in a $154 million profit after-tax. This is more than double the $77 million recorded last year.

The profit was primarily driven by a combination of 6.9% customer base growth to 118.2 million and 7.7% Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) growth.

TC Deal Tracker

This week, 75% of the funding deals involved francophone African startups. Cameroon-based fintech startup, Maviance raised $3 million from MFS Africa to digitize financial services across Central Africa.

The other deals for the week include:

  • South African edtech startup, iXperience raised $2.5 million from Kalon Venture Partners & Caleo Private Equity.
  • Ivorien fintech startups, Keiwa and Legafrik received undisclosed amounts from I&P.
  • That’s all we’ve got this week. Follow TC Insights on TwitterTC Insights on Twitter and LinkedIn for more updates on funding deals.

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Written by – Olumuyiwa

Edited by – Edwin Madu & Koromone Koroye

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Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega | Author