1 SEPTEMBER , 2022


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Happy new month 🌟

Another lay-off has hit the ecosystem. 

Ten-year-old Ghanaian social and technology company Viamo recently bade “a lot” of employees goodbye. 

At the time of writing this, we can’t confirm how many employees have been laid off, but a source close to the story told TechCabal that Viamo laid off its design and implementation team.

The reason isn’t clear yet as Viamo may be the latest company to fall victim to the global economic downturn, or it may have been due to bad investments.

Viamo joins a host of African companies that have laid off their staff, including Egyptian Svwl and Vezeeta, Nigerian 54gene and Alezo, and Kenyan Marketforce.


Popular tourist attraction, Zanzibar is set to build its own Silicon Valley—Silicon Zanzibar. The government of Zanzibar has launched the Silicon Zanzibar initiative to make the country a home for companies creating technology for use in Africa. 

Why is this necessary?

The tech industry in Africa is experiencing exponential growth and is attracting groundbreaking funding. However, most of these tech companies move to London or Dubai and operate in Africa from there. Through the Silicon Zanzibar initiative, the country can become an open and enabling operation base for all tech companies and their employees.

The success of this plan will support Zanzibar in diversifying its economy. The income and local spending power of world-class technology workers relocating there will also significantly increase Zanzibar’s tax base. The country’s local ICT workforce will also gain skills and experience from their presence in the ecosystem.

What is the plan?

To realise its vision, the government will offer strong incentives like exemption from corporate income tax for 10 years to incentivise companies to participate in Zanzibar’s existing Free Economic Zone program. It will also streamline the issuance of work visas to skilled tech workers to incentivise their relocations from across Africa. 

The physical base of Silicon Zanzibar will be located in Fumba Town, where the government is already building hundreds of modern residential and commercial units. One of Africa’s fastest-growing companies, Wasoko, has already bought into the Silicon Zanzibar dream. Partnering with the country, it announced the opening of a new hub in Fumba Town and the relocation of over 40 tech workers and senior leaders, including its CEO, Daniel Yu.

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South African mobile network operator MTN refuses to say whether it has reported millions in fraudulent transactions and airtime theft on its network, according to MyBroadband.

In the last fifteen years, large amounts of airtime have been reportedly stolen from MTN subscribers through fraudulent subscriptions.

The issue at hand

Numerous investigations showed that wireless application service providers (WASPs) fraudulently subscribed MTN users to services without permission.

The mobile network operator also confirmed that customers were fraudulently subscribed to MTN’s own internal content.

Fraudulent subscriptions became so prevalent that MTN suspended all “off-deck” campaigns with its partners and started to enforce fraud protection systems.

Although MTN confirmed the fraud on its network, it claimed none of its WASP partners had been the actual perpetrators of stolen airtime from its customers.

The denial

When MyBroadband asked MTN whether it disclosed airtime theft and fraud on its network in its financial results, the company refused to answer this question. When the network operator was also prompted on whether it disclosed the fraud, the company again would not answer the question.

MTN’s annual reports also show no evidence that MTN has ever disclosed the fraud. 

A worrying trend

It appears like concealing information or even outright deceiving shareholders is becoming quite the norm among South African mobile network operators.

Last week, Vodacom was accused of inflating the subscriber numbers of its Video Play streaming service which has since been unceremoniously discontinued.

This week, Vodacom was also accused of doing the same thing MTN did—failing to disclose fraud on its network.

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Vodacom has launched VodaLend Cash Advance to give quick loans exclusively to its customers. The VodaPay super app, which has been downloaded 2.8 million times, is the only platform that offers access to the service. With the option to pay back over 7, 14, or 21 or 28 days, it offers cash advances ranging from R50 ($2.93) to R500 ($29.34).

How can you access the service?

VodaLend Cash Advance will first determine how much of a loan you can afford to accept. To make sure that more people, including first-time borrowers, can use the service, the affordability check is improved by Vodacom customers’ history of recharges and payment patterns. 

The funds are advanced directly into the user’s VodaPay Wallet as soon as the loan is approved. Through the VodaPay Wallet app, the customer can use the advance right away to make purchases and send money to friends and family. 

The loan service is the most recent addition to the VodaLend financial services lineup, which also includes VodaLend Compare, Voucher Advance, and Airtime Advance. The VodaLend Cash Advance is designed to include the millions of other South Africans who are still not eligible for credit services, as only 26 million of their consumers have a formal credit history.

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What’s the worst you’d expect from a ride-hailing driver? Bad manners, maybe? 

You definitely don’t expect whoever’s driving to take over your account, book trips with your debit card, and rate themselves 5-stars for the trip, do you? 

Well, it happened!

Wait, what?

My Broadband confirmed that one of its readers went through this hell of an experience. The reader noticed that eight fraudulent trips were taken with his account, followed by a deduction of R2055 ($120.23) from his bank card. The victim also mentioned that two people in his network were confirmed to have gone through the same issue, with both losing money to the tricks of these fraudulent Bolt drivers. 

What is Bolt doing about this?

According to the victim, Bolt’s customer care reps made the matter worse, asking irrelevant questions like: “Why did you rate a trip 5 stars if you did not request it?”

However, Bolt’s country manager for South Africa, Takura Malaba, was more helpful. He confirmed that the driver in this particular case has been caught and permanently banned from using the platform. Also, Bolt claims to have begun returning the stolen money to the victim. 

Zoom Out: Bolt has been called out many times for poor customer service, but this is a whole new height, one that could have the company witness an exodus of users from its platform. Despite Bolt’s attempts to allay the public’s fears on this particular issue, the question of whether this could happen again looms ahead.

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Nigerian alternative power company Mobile Power Limited raises £1 million from All On to scale its services.

Entering Tech #001: Five no-code tech jobs.

Zapper and Stitch are partnering up to enable one-click payments for South Africans.

Duplo raises $4.3 million in seed funding to digitise Nigeria’s B2B payments.

South Africa Police Service summoned by country’s Information Regulator for leaking Krugersdorp rape victims’ personal information.


  • Enterscale has launched the Technology Investment Programme (TIP) to help founders improve their funding narrative and business model. Fintech, logistics and other ventures addressing challenges in healthcare, agriculture, education, and the creator & SME economies should apply to get access to a network of potential partners and management advisors. Check it out.
  • Netflix has extended its Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund (CESF) to film and television students in the West and Central Africa region. Applications are now open for students to apply to study at institutions in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Gabon. Apply by September 4.
  • The UN’s Youth Climate Innovation Lab is calling all young innovators in MENA that are creating climate technology solutions to join a 3-day launchpad. Winners from the launchpad will participate in the 6–8 week Climate Innovation Academy Programme, and the top 3 teams will receive a cash prize as well as the chance to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) happening in Egypt this November 2022. Apply by September 4.
  • Applications are now open for Meta’s AR/VR Africa Metathon. XR developers, programmers, UI/UX designers, artists, animators, storytellers, and professionals resident in Africa can sign up to get curated learning resources from XR experts who will provide mentorship, and facilitate masterclasses and workshops. Apply here

What else is happening in tech?


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Written by – Timi Odueso, Ngozi Chukwu & Caleb Nnamani

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku

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