27 JULY, 2022


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Tech lay-offs continue into July, and this time Shopify is checking employees out. 

Yesterday, the Canada-based e-commerce company laid off 10% of its workforce—about 1,000 employees. 

According to Tobias Lütke, the company miscalculated its unprecedented growth during the COVID pandemic, hoping that e-commerce adoption—which grew by 19% in 2020—would continue to boom as more businesses moved online. The company doubled its 5,000 employees in 2019 to 10,000 in 2021.

The 1,000 employees were let go without warning or notice but Shopify did announce that the impacted roles are in “recruiting, support, sales, and over-specialised or duplicate roles”. It is, however, providing all its exiting employees with a 16-week severance pay, and medical benefits. 

Shopify joins Netflix, Coinbase, Klarna, and a host of other tech companies that have laid off employees in the past few months. So far, 441 startups have laid off over 58,000 workers this year, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon. 




– 2.29%



– 4.65%



– 1.27%



– 4.50%



– 4.45%

Name of the coin

Price of the coin

24-hour percentage change

Source: CoinMarketCap

* Data as of 11:40 PM WAT, July 26, 2022.

In April, the Central African Republic (CAR) became the first African country to legalise crypto. Shortly after, the country also announced the creation of its own digital coin, the sango coin. 

Well, the sango coin was finally released on Monday night, and it’s off to a slothful start. CAR minted $21 million worth of sango coin as an initial offer to the public, but just 5%—about $1.1 million—was sold within 24 hours.

According to experts, one of the reasons for sango coin’s slow uptake is that it lacks the state-repellent nature of most cryptocurrencies. Unlike bitcoin or ether, crypto has been blessed by the state. Many crypto enthusiasts believe that it’s under the control of the CAR government and is thus centralised.

Since the announcement of the sango coin, everyone has been perplexed about how CAR plans to use crypto adoption to boost its economy. CAR has an internet penetration rate of 11.81%: only 557,000 of its 4.87 million citizens have access to the internet. Many of the country’s own citizens don’t know about crypto, much less have access to it. 

Sango coin is still in its early days, though. Let’s all hinge our hopes on President Faustin-Archange Toudéra who believes that the coin will be “a gateway to the natural resources of the Central African Republic”.

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“Sometimes, when babies cry, they might just be crying for medical attention.”—Charles Onu, CEO Ubenwa.

Babies’ cries are normal. Often triggered by inconvenience, hunger, or ill-health, it can be difficult to tell the difference. 

Ubenwa, an innovative health startup, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret the cries of infants, and offer diagnoses based on the recorded cries. They claim to be the first company in the world to do this, and now, they have raised $2.5 million in pre-seed.

Backstory: Founded by a Nigerian, Charles Onu, Ubenwa is looking to power a global solution by providing both software and payment solutions that will enable early testing and diagnoses of the 140 million babies born across the globe annually.

The startup is currently based in Montreal, Canada, where it partnered with Mila, a world-renowned AI hub in Quebec. It has also teamed up with other leading hospitals in Canada, Brazil, and Nigeria to build the world’s largest clinically annotated database of infant cries.

In a successful pilot to detect neurological injury due to birth asphyxia, Ubenwa’s software showed a 40% improvement over APGAR scoring, the widely canonised physical examination at birth. 

Is it possible, though?

Ubenwa’s work is unprecedented, but there’s the looming question of whether infant cries can actually indicate medical conditions. There are existing companies like Audeering that use AI and audio patterns to track health conditions. Also, research has given an optimistic outlook towards vocal tests for health monitoring, and Ubenwa is riding on this wave.

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South African mobile network operator Telkom has launched a multi-part application in the Pretoria High Court asking for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s order that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigate suspicious deals at the company be declared unconstitutional and invalid.

The court papers seek an interdict blocking the SIU from proceeding with its investigation and an order setting aside Ramaphosa’s proclamation.

Wait what? Tell me more

According to MyBroadband , Ramaphosa issued a directive on January 25, 2022 ordering the SIU to investigate allegations of maladministration and misconduct at Telkom.

These allegations include dodgy deals like Telkom’s sale of its Nigerian Multi-Links operation in 2011, and the disposal of iWayAfrica and Africa Online Mauritius in 2013. There are also cases of alleged unauthorised, irregular, or fruitless and wasteful expenditure relating to telex and telegram services as well as contracts relating to advisory services in respect of Telkom’s broadband and mobile strategy.

Telkom strikes back

When quizzed about these contracts at the time, Telkom defended itself, saying it received value for its money. The company further states that Ramaphosa acted outside his powers as Telkom is not a state institution under the SIU Act, pointing to the fact that it does not use public money, or control assets or public property.

The facts though, are that the government does indeed have power over Telkom as it owns 40.5% of the company. The company’s official name is even “Telkom SA SOC Limited”, with the SOC standing for “state-owned company”.

What next? 

Telkom has pointed the blame at 2 employees who the company says it has issued a civil summons against one of with the intention to recover losses amounting to $5 million relating to activities incidental to the flagged transactions.

The company goes on to state that because of the subject of a criminal and civil nature, it will deal with the case on its merits in the appropriate forum, in the appropriate manner, at the appropriate time. 

In short, it is saying “See you in court, Mr Prez.”

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Shopify might be laying off employees, but Safaricom is gobbling up talent.

Safaricom, Kenya’s telecommunications giant, is doing all it can to retain its number one spot in the country, including a recent funnelling of 400 software developers into its workforce. 

For many years, Kenya has maintained the shiny position as the choice destination for technology companies in East Africa. With many international and local businesses setting up shop in the country, the need for skilled tech talents has continued to be on the rise. 

Now, Safaricom is making sure its workforce of 6,230 people is not void of skilled software developers, as a gap in skilled labour can easily translate to a gap in product quality.

Safaricom has more products up its sleeve

Well, Safaricom isn’t just hiring for the sake of it. The company has several products in its pipeline, and these new hires will be instrumental in fleshing—or coding—them out. 

According to the CEO, the company plans to launch an e-commerce platform on the M-Pesa super app. In addition to that, they plan to offer digitised financial technology solutions like savings, insurance, loans, and wealth management to their customers. 

In the light of these, it becomes clear that Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest connectivity company, is rebranding into a full-blown technology firm. Cheers to that!

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Yep, you heard right. Instagram wants to keep up with the trends….but not with the Kardarshians.

What’s up?

Well, the Kardashians—and many other Instagrammers—want the social media platform to stay true to its original mission: sharing cute photos with friends and family. 

On Monday, the second-most followed Instragrammer, Kylie Jenner, and her sister Kim Kardashian, reshared a post urging the social media platform to pause on its most recent changes. 

ICYMI: Over the past couple of months, Meta has made drastic changes to help Facebook and Instagram keep up with TikTok. In 2021, TikTok saw 20% more growth than Instagram and Facebook, and more Gen Z’s are on TikTok than Facebook or Instagram. TikTok also has 1.6 billion monthly active users, and that’s already more than Instagram’s 1 billion users, and it’s slowly creeping up on Facebook’s 2.9 billion users, especially as TikTok gained 45% of its users within the past year.

To keep up, Instagram has launched a number of new features like Reels, and more recently, it’s testing a new full-screen mode modelled to look more like TikTok’s FYP or even the Reels feed. All this spells more videos for Instagram, and if you’ve been on the app lately, you’ll notice the changes. 

Many people, like the Kardarshians, don’t like these changes and there’s even a petition with over 150,000 signatures to stop Instagram from transitioning into a TikTok-wannabe. People want to see photos of their friends and people they actually follow, not random dancing videos of doe-eyed men. 🌚

Instagram has heard and…

Well, Instagram has heard, and according to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, the data says different.

In a video shared on Twitter a day after the Kardashians’ post, Mosseri stated that Instagram will continue to lean towards videos because user behaviour says that people like more videos. 

Instagram basically said:

Big picture video: Instagram will continue to support photos, as Mosseri states, but if it wants to keep its $20 billion ad revenue, it’s going to have to do what brings the most users. And, for now, that means more cat videos, and less family photos.

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Curious about what goes into conceiving, designing, and building successful tech products for the African market?

Join the TechCabal Live conversation on July 29 at 11 AM (WAT), where Kelechi Njoku, senior editor at TechCabal will discuss with Yarmirama Ashama, senior product manager at Cowrywise; Makera Kigaraba, principal product manager at M-KOPA; Tolulope Saba, head of product at Brass; and Busayo Oladejo, product manager at Big Cabal Media.

Want to attend? Register here.

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The Next Wave: Resolving South Africa’s energy paradox.

Hivestack, an independent, programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) ad tech company, has partnered with Xaxis South Africa to launch a DOOH marketplace in the country.

Vantage Data Centres has announced the completion of a hyperscale data centre which is located within its 80MW campus in Johannesburg, South Africa..


C. Moore Media International Public Relations, a US-headquartered PR agency focusing on African tech startups, announces the launch of the third edition of The Future is Female Mentorship Programme. The programme is a public relations (PR) and communications mentorship initiative dedicated exclusively to African female tech founders. It is the only one of its kind in Africa dedicated to female founders.

Mirroring previous editions, the third edition will provide African female tech founders of early-stage startups with the fundamentals of PR and comms for their business. During the programme, the founders will learn how to create a PR plan, tips on incorporating storytelling into their PR and comms, best practices on how to secure media coverage, how to position their startups for investment opportunities, and more.

If you are an African female tech founder launching in African markets and/or serving Africans in the diaspora, apply here by July 29. You can also learn more about the programme here or follow @CMooreMedia and #CMMTheFutureIsFemale for updates.

What else is happening in tech?


Written by – Timi Odueso, Caleb Nnamani, Eniola Sosan & Ephraim Modise

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku


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