22 JULY, 2021


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Good morning ☀️ ️

Whatsapp has introduced the ability to join a group call, even after it has started. It means you no longer have to ask someone to add you to a Whatsapp group call you missed – you can just jump right in.

With this feature, WhatsApp is looking more like its siblings — Zoom and Google Meet. 

In today’s edition:

  • This app wants to simplify Twitter giveaways
  • Orange has its sights on Ethiopia’s telecom space
  • Telkom launches a music streaming service
  • CNN to join the streaming wars

This app wants to simplify Twitter giveaways

Let’s say I wanted to send a surprise ‘happy birthday’ cash gift to a friend; my first thought would be to ask for their bank account number. I would do this for people I know very well but also for someone I only know on social media. 

But what if my virtual friend, feeling we are not buddies as such or having been scarred by online money doubling scams, hesitates to share such personal information? Can I thrill them on their special day by using public information I have about them?

There might be a way around this. Meet Vendly, a web app that’s making payments social. 

Bob Nzelu, the brain behind vendly says, “Like sending money through email addresses using PayPal, Vendly hopes to replicate that using social media handles.”

It’s still the early days for Vendly, but Alex looks into this app that wants to simplify Twitter giveaways, without bank accounts.


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Orange has its sights on Ethiopia’s telecom space

French telecom firm Orange has expressed its interest to participate in the ongoing partial privatisation of Ethiopia’s Ethio telecom.

Backstory: In May, Ethiopia awarded the country’s first private telecommunication license to a consortium including Safaricom and the UK’s Vodafone Group Plc. The consortium agreed to pay $850m for the licence. The government is also looking to invite fresh bids for the second license after MTN failed to get it.

Last month, Ethiopia’s government launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40% stake in the state-owned Ethio Telecom to private investors – a proposal that fits in part with the country’s plan to open the country’s economy and reduce its state-powered monopolies.

The elephant in the room: The recent armed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region may affect the consortium’s plan. How? The consortium agreed to take a $500 million loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to help with acquisition and development costs, but now that’s looking unlikely.

The DFC has hinted that acts of violence against civilians in Tigray could affect the release of $500-million in loans to the consortium. If the conflict deepens, it could push the DFC to forgo the investments altogether and pressure the telecoms in the consortium to seek money from elsewhere in order to finance operations in Ethiopia.

Big picture: Similar to what’s happening in South Africa, these telecom operators are caught in the middle of a political conflict.

Read more: Orange submits interest for stake in Ethio telecom


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Telkom launches a music streaming service

Africa’s music streaming industry has a new player: Telkom Music.

Telkom, a leading telecommunications company in South Africa, announced its new music streaming platform in partnership with Tencent-owned JOOX. The platform is available in Huawei’s AppGallery and Google Play Store.

About Telkom Music: The music app is designed to save data usage and space on the user’s smartphone. Users are able to listen for free with limited features, while Telkom customers can subscribe to the all-access VIP package for $4.09 per month.

It boasts of three new features: 

  • Music Guru feature which tests your music knowledge against other users. 
  • Music Radio which allows users to find new tracks to share.
  • The Flock feature which allows users to create playlists together for their next big event – whether in person or virtual. 

Big picture: In the past five years, this is Telkom’s third attempt at providing its users with access to entertainment services. In 2017, it launched the LIT platform which offered affordable mobile data bundles for video streaming from content partners like Netflix, YouTube and Showmax and music from Google Play Music and Simfy Africa.

Three year later, the Telkom One platform was launched as a new video and audio streaming service, with original local content to differentiate itself from streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu.

With the launch of Telkom music, the telecom giant is looking to provide a new home for music lovers in Africa. But only time will tell if its efforts will pay off?

CNN to join the streaming wars

Next year, CNN plans to launch its own video streaming service called — wait for it — CNN+.

Great name choice there!

Yeah, Apple and Disney used it first. 

How’s CNN+ going to be different from CNN?

First off, It won’t be a digital replica of CNN News and its content won’t tilt towards one particular political ideology. In the words of CNN executive Andrew Morse, “No, it’s not going to be ideological, We’re just not in that game. We’re not an opinion network, we’re a news network.”

CNN+ plans to offer eight to 12 hours of in-depth topical coverage and “lifestyle” material every day, with both veterans and newcomers at the helm. CNN+ viewers will also be interact and engage in real-time discussions with anchors and experts. 

CNN reportedly plans to draw from its catalogue of existing content such as Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, but will also be creating original shows and movies for the service.

What won’t be on CNN+? The cable news giant won’t be able to include its current live programming “due to lucrative and long-term deals with cable distributors”. However, those with a TV subscription for CNN will be able to access programming via CNN+.

How much will it cost?As for that, there is no word yet on how much CNN+ will cost. It will launch in the US first, then other countries later.

Zoom out: This move by CNN+ will test how much consumers are willing to stretch their wallets to accommodate a new streaming service. It also brings up the question of whether CNN+ wouldn’t do better by being bundled with HBO Max – both brands are soon to be owned by WarnerMedia.

While the jury is still out on that, CNN is looking to hire 450 people to support the CNN+ project.

Read more:CNN+ streaming service will offer live and on-demand content in early 2022


Written by – Daniel Adeyemi

Edited by – Koromone koroye


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