28 SEPTEMBER, 2021

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Good morning β˜€οΈ ️

Every month, TikTok is being used by 1 billion users across the world. 

That’s β…“ of Facebook’s but it’s still pretty impressive growth for the platform, considering how long TikTok has been around.

In today’s edition:

  • How Rwanda is supporting urbanisation in Africa
  • Pricepally’s solution
  • Twitter’s crypto push
  • Yellow Card raises $15m

HOW RWANDA IS SUPPORTING URBANIZATION IN AFRICA

Africa has the fastest urbanisation rate in the world. 

Hold on, let me explain. In the 1950s, only 27 million Africans lived in urban areas. By 2015, that number had grown by 2000%, to 567 million people. No other region has come close, not even Asia, the second-highest region which grew by 760% from 246 million in 1950 to 2.1 billion in 2015

Growth v. Development

This unprecedented growth, however, is a double-edged sword. While it leads to socio-economic and political diversity and development, it also means that more Africans are migrating to urban areas leaving the development of rural areas at an all-time low. 

So even though Africa does have the fastest urbanization rate, it ranks lowest for urbanisation of areas, with only 43% of its regions having some form of urbanization. Undoubtedly, the number of people in urbanized areas has grown, but the number of urbanized areas hasn’t increased to match such growth. 

What this means is that there is a dense population in every city chasing after scarce resources. 

Enter: Rwanda’s Smart City Innovation Programme

Earlier this year, the Rwandan government set out to solve the urbanization problem through an accelerator program. 

In partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German development agency, Rwanda launched the Smart City Innovation Programme aimed at supporting thirty (30) African tech start-ups that can boost the potentials of urbanisation while providing sustainable solutions for smart cities and smart housing.

Each of the startups, on selection, mentorship, and training from Volkswagen, Siemens, and ABAN. They’d also get to run live tests for their solutions in Green City Kigali, Rwanda’s flagship smart city. 

Which startups are solving the problem?

Thirty-one (31) startups from twelve African countries were selected from a pool of 300 applicants. 

The list includes Nigeria’s Scrapays with its trash-for-cash initiative, Ghana’s Cofundie which helps home developers crowdfund their projects, and Kenya’s BasiGo, a logistics startup providing bus drivers with electric buses. 

Read more about the selected startups here.

PRICEPALLY IS USING TECH TO PROVIDE NIGERIANS WITH FRESHER FOODS

“If the most successful startups in the food industry are using technology to enhance their offerings, why shouldn’t Africa, with its emerging markets, be doing the same?”

Well, some startups are and Pricepally is one of them. 

Cheaper and fresher?

Pricepally is a wholesale food e-commerce startup making fresher, and cheaper food items available to families and individuals by connecting them directly to farmers and wholesalers via its web and app-based platform. 

Launched in 2019, the startup was co-founded by ex-Alibaba founder fellow, Luther Lawoyin, to solve challenges in the food supply space like food wastage, high food prices, and limited access to farm-fresh items. 

It’s even cheaper when you buy in bulk

Pricepally leverages tech by offering buyers access to the platform via web and mobile apps for ios and android users. 

While the platform offers many standard features like an in-app wallet, the most interesting feature is called Pally, a feature that lets users share bulk foodstuffs in small quantities/portions. For example, up to 20 people can share a 50kg basket of tomatoes. 

Food prices, especially in Nigeria where the startup is based, have rocketed over the past year with some products like eggs or tomatoes costing twice what they used to cost in 2015. One thing that’s remained constant, though, is that buying in bulk is almost always cheaper in bulk. 

PricePally knows this and they’re integrating it into their tech solutions. 

Read more in Pricepally is creating access to quality farm-fresh food items through its new web and app-based platform.

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TWITTER IS NOT SLOWING DOWN THIS YEAR

After many years of stagnant growth, Twitter is not slowing down this year.

This year it has launched Twitter Spaces audio chat platform, interest-based Communities, newsletters via its acquisition of Revue, Fleets, crowdsourced fact-checking with Birdwatch, new e-commerce features, and a host of other features.

Last week, it announced a new set of initiatives and features: support for tipping with crypto, NFT authentication, a creator fund, and other experiments designed to provide more context about a conversation to those just joining in.

Interesting tell me more!

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has long signaled his interest in crypto. For one, his Twitter bio says just “#bitcoin” and his other company Square saw bitcoin revenue bring in $2.72 billion last quarter, up approximately three times year over year.

Crypto tips are currently only via Bitcoin and could work in a couple of ways. Users will be able to add a Bitcoin Lightning wallet or their Bitcoin address in order to start receiving Bitcoin tips. Note, Twitter doesn’t take a cut of any money sent through its Tips feature.

Closely related to that is the ability for Non-fungible tokens (NFT) creators to connect their crypto wallets to Twitter, in order to track and showcase their NFTs on the platform.

Still on creators, in a few weeks,Twitter will launch its own creator fund to provide audio creators with access to financial, technical, and marketing support.

Unlike similar creator funds by Facebook, Instagram, and Snap, Twitter’s creator fund is not aimed to reward creators or the content they produce but rather to help them get started with audio productions on Twitter Spaces.

To help people feel safe sharing their thoughts and opinions on its network, it’s planning to introduce a ‘’Heads Up’’ feature that warns newcomers about the nature of a conversation.

Big Picture: If there are any concerns about how Twitter is able to manage to push out so many new features, then the answer is in the fact that it’s not afraid to try new things out and drop whatever’s not working as it did to Fleets.

“You’ll see us share our progress publicly along the way, as we have over the last few years. And you won’t see us stay tied to the things that aren’t working” Twitter Head of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour explained. “We believe that if we’re not winding things down every once in a while, then we’re not taking big enough bets.”

IMPROVING CYBERSECURITY IN MENA

KB4-CON EMEA is a free, highly engaging, cybersecurity-focused virtual event designed for CISOs, security awareness and cybersecurity professionals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The event will be on Thursday, September 23rd and features keynotes from two of the most well-known figures in cybersecurity. Mikko Hyppönen will cover how our global networks are being threatened by surveillance and crime, and how we can fix our technical, and human, problems. Kevin Mitnick will reveal social engineering tradecraft and insights and wow you with a live hacking demonstration. You can register here


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THE LARGEST SERIES A FUNDING BY A CRYPTO STARTUP

Yellow Card, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, has raised $15m in the largest Series A funding by a crypto startup in Africa.

Led by Valar Ventures, Third Prime and Castle Island Ventures, the raise was also supported by Blockchain.com Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, and Square, a Fintech owned by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. 

Backstory: Yellow Card has one goal: to build a crypto-based exchange system that’s easy to use. 

Founded by Christ Maurice and Justin Poiroux, the company was launched in Nigeria in 2019 to offer bitcoin gift cards which could then be exchanged for cash. 

The company has, however, since changed direction, now identifying as a crypto-based agency banking business that aids financial inclusion in Africa through crypto exchange. With its new model, Yellow Card allows people to buy crypto by depositing at ATMs, bank branches, or partner store networks.

The green light 

Moving forward, Yellow Card wants to give more Africans financial freedom without being drawn back by currency devaluation. 

With the help of its new funding, the ultimate objective for Yellow Card is to become a crypto service that, “that allows Africans to send remittances, make payments and protect the value of their wealth against the incessant currency devaluation in many African countries.”

While this is the cornerstone for other crypto platforms, Yellow Card is building on it in a unique way. Crypto can be very difficult to understand, especially if you’re new to the market and Yellow Card’s approach is building platforms and products that don’t require users to have in-depth knowledge about the crypto world. 

Read more: Yellow Card raises $15m in Series A Funding.

BUILD AND INVEST WITH FUTURE AFRICA

Join the Future Africa Collective – an exclusive community of investors who invest in startups building the future of Africa. With a $1,000 annual or a $300 quarterly subscription fee, you get access to invest a minimum of $2,500 in up to 20 fast-growing African startups each year. 

Learn more here.


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OPPORTUNITIES: Y COMBINATOR’S WOMEN ENG IN STARTUP SERIES

Y Combinator is partnering with Elpha to bring together women engineers who are interested in finding roles at fast-growing startups.

During the month-long program, selected women will get mentored by women engineers from Y Combinator’s alumni network. The aim of the program is simple: help engineers looking for their next roles transition into startups.

Find out more and apply here.

What else we’re reading

  • Did Ozy Media try to hoodwink the world’s most famous bank into a $40m deal? Read Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media, and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong. 
  • Do you have $100k lying around somewhere? Well, here’s how and where you can invest some of it. 
  • Chipper Cash is gearing up to compete for a share of South Africa’s Fintech market.

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Written by – Timi Odueso

Edited by – Daniel Adeyemi

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