9 FEBRUARY, 2022

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Wednesday’s here! ๐ŸŒž

Google Chrome is changing its icon for the first time in 8 years. 

Can you spot the difference and why it’s important?

Image Source: Elvin Hu, Twitter

The new designs will lose the shadows that were incorporated between the borders of the red, yellow, and green swirls. Google is making this change because they realised that placing certain shades of red, yellow and green side-by-side created “an unpleasant colour vibration”. 

The new designs will be rolled out soon, but they’re already visible on Chrome Canary, the developer version of Chrome. 

In today’s edition

  • Meta shuts down Express Wi-Fi across Africa
  • Zeepay partners with Telebirr
  • Asa joins Spotify EQUAL Africa’s playlist
  • Event: Building from Ground Up
  • Opportunities

META SHUTS DOWN EXPRESS WI-FI ACROSS AFRICA

After 6 years in operation, Meta is shutting down Express Wi-Fi, a programme designed to provide low-cost internet in developing countries through partnerships with local communities, mobile operators and businesses.

Why?

The shut down of Express Wi-Fi comes barely a year after Meta partnered with Eutelsat Konnect, a satellite operator, to expand the low-cost internet service in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Cameroon, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, South Africa and Uganda.

Notably, in countries like Kenya, Express Wi-Fi has been unavailable since December 2020. The service is currently active in over 30 countries across Africa, Asia and South America. 

It’s happened before

Similar to this announcement, about a year ago, Google shut down project Loon, one of it’s low-cost internet projects active in Kenya. A move that made people question the fate of internet projects in Africa by big corporations.

Meta said that while it’s winding down Express Wi-Fi, it’s focusing on other projects around internet access.

“While we are concluding our work on this program to focus on developing other projects, we remain committed to working with partners across the telecom ecosystem to deliver better connectivity,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. It promised to work with Express Wi-Fi partners to “minimize the impact to their businesses while keeping networks running.”

The company first revealed its plans to build a 37,000-kilometer subsea cable, named 2Africa, in May 2020, and it announced an expansion in 2021, which is expected to be completed in 2023 or 2024.  

Zoom out: Currently about 28% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is connected to mobile internet according to the 2021 GSMA mobile economy report. The end of Express Wi-Fi program signals a change in Meta’s approach to delivering low-cost internet across Africa.

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ZEEPAY PARTNERS WITH TELEBIRR

Zeepay, a Ghana-based fintech startup, has partnered with Telebirr, a mobile money service owned and run by Ethio Telecom—Ethiopia’s leading telecom and internet service provider.

What will Zeepay and Telebirr do?

Telebirr offers a wide range of services to its users, including cash deposit and withdrawal, money transfers, airtime purchases, merchant payments, and international remittances. Customers can access all of these without having a bank account.

With the partnership, Ethiopian diasporans get the opportunity to send money through Zeepay to friends and family back home, who can cash out the funds through Telebirr.

“This will further open up Africa to digital and cross-border payments and give our partners access to over 150 million consumers,” Zeepay Managing Director, Andrew Takyi-Appiah said.

For Dede Quarshie, Zeepay’s commercial general manager, it’s “a privilege” for the startup to be among the first fintechs accepted by the Ethiopian central bank. 

The country, with a population of over 100 million people, has more than 2 million nationals in the diaspora.

The Abiy Ahmed-led administration only started opening up what’s historically been a state-controlled economy, starting with the telecom and banking sectors, within the last 2 years. Efforts, however, have been frustrated by an enduring crisis in the Tigray region.

Last July, Ethiopia-based Dashen Bank partnered with Thunes, a Singapore-based global payments network, to facilitate fund transfers from around the world to the Horn of Africa nation.

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ASA JOINS SPOTIFY EQUAL AFRICA’S PLAYLIST

Spotify is jailing users’ hearts with playlists and now, Paris-born Nigerian singer, Asa, will be leading one. 

The singer was recently announced the Spotify EQUAL Global Music Programme ambassador for the month of February. 

What’s SEGMP?

It’s the acronym we created for the Spotify EQUAL Global Music Programme because we’re trying to watch our word count. 

The programme was launched in April 2021 in commemoration of International Women’s Day. According to Spotify, the programme—which consists of highlighted playlists created by Spotify—was launched to highlight women creators on its platform and work towards equity for women in the audio industry.

Globally, charts are often dominated by male performers. From 2017 to 2019, only 21% of performers on Billboard’s Hot 100 were women. Apple Music and Spotify, during the same period, had even less, with female performers representing only 19% of charts. More recently, Spotify itself funded research that showed only 1 in 5 artistes on the charts are women. 

This research helped fuel the drive for its EQUAL Global Music Programme. 

Since its launch, the programme has curated 17 playlists featuring female artistes all over the globe. The EQUAL Africa playlist—which has over 70,000 likes— has 50 songs from female artistes from all over the continent. This includes songs from Ghana-born singer, Gyakie, who has had over 13.5 million streams on Spotify, Nigeria’s Ayra Starr who recently hit 1 million streams on the platform, Zambia’s Titose, and Morocco’s Rhita Nattah.

Asa, who has over 375,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, is the latest on the list. Her recently released track, Mayana, will lead the EQUAL Africa playlist and also feature on the EQUAL Global playlist. Mayana already has over 560,000 streams on Spotify, and the addition to EQUAL playlists will boost it further.

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EVENT: BUILDING FROM GROUND UP

How did Femi Adeyemo build one of the fastest-growing energy companies in Nigeria? What kind of strategic thinking contributed to where Arnergy is today? What can other founders learn from his journey?

Next Friday at 11 AM (WAT), join the founder and CEO of Arnergy, Femi Adeyemo on #BuildingFromGroundUp.

Arnergy is a venture-backed distributed utility providing renewable energy solutions in emerging markets. On this episode, Femi will not only share important lessons from Arnergy’s growth, but he’ll also talk about what startups need to know when it comes to driving excellence in their operations.

The event is open to experienced and aspiring entrepreneurs as well as everyone else who is playing in the African technology industry.

Register now to attend.

The #BuildingFromGroundUp series is powered by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub with TechCabal as an implementing partner.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) is now open to applications from IT and agritech startups in Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda. Selected startups will get training and coaching, participation in IT-related B2B matchmaking events and other benefits. Find out more here.
  • The AllOn/NCIC Embryo Incubation Programme is now open to applications from early-stage Nigerian startups in the renewable energy sector. Eight selected startups will get $10,000 equity-free grants each. Charge up your applications here
  • The Bayer Foundation Women Empowerment Award is now open to applications from female entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa who are driving positive change by bringing better health and nutrition to everyone. The Awardee will receive €25,000 ($28,000) for their work. Check it out

What else we’re reading

  • Nairobi-based Sistema.bio raises $15 million to deliver clean and renewable energy to 1 million farmers.
  • Apple has announced a tap-to-pay feature that allows iPhones accept contactless payments without additional hardware.

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Written by – Timi Odueso & Michael Ajifowoke

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku

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