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Can’t find X? Don’t worry, Chief Twit Elon is going to shove it right in your face.
Over the weekend, the Twitter owner announced a brand change for the blue bird: its logo will be replaced by an X—signifying its connection to X Corp, Musk’s new firm, and definitely not a slow death. “Bid Adieu to the Twitter brand,” the billionaire tweeted.
Will this move make or break Twitter? Will it finally prove Musk knows why—and more importantly, how—to make the caged blue bird sing?
Sonatel acquires 5G licence in Senegal
Senegal’s race for 5G is finally picking up.
In May, the country announced it was finally ready for 5G by opening up the window for applications for 5G spectrum licences.
At the time, telecom regulator L’Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunication et des Postes (ARTP) announced that interested investors should submit applications by July 14. The price? A whopping XOF19.5 billion ($33 million).
Per ARTP director Abdou Karim Sall, the application process would help the regulator decide which telecom has the capacity to rapidly provide quality 5G infrastructure across the country.
Sonatel does: Last week, the regulator announced that it had “provisionally” awarded Sonatel—Orange Senegal—a 5G licence after the telecom beat out others with its bid.
Sonatel reportedly bid XOF34.5 billion ($59.1 million) for the licence, a significantly higher bid compared to Free’s XOF3 billion ($5 million) and Expresso’s XOF2 billion ($3.4 million).
“Following the examination of the submitted offers, the committee for the evaluation of technical and financial offers proposed to the Selection Committee to retain Sonatel, which was the only candidate to have fulfilled the conditions set by the regulations,” director Sall said.
A growing monopoly: Sonatel’s acquisition of the licence cements its future in Senegal’s telecoms space. Already, the telecom controls over 50% of the telecoms space in Senegal, with Free, Expresso and Canal+ sharing the rest. Its selection also doesn’t come as a surprise. Since 2020, the telecom has been moving on 5G in the country, rolling out tests and trials across various regions. So far, it looks like Orange is definitely Senegal’s telecoms hack.
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Bundle Africa shuts down proprietary app
Image source: Emmanuel Babalola (Twitter)
Last week, Nigerian crypto startup Bundle Africa announced that it would shut down its social payments app Bundle Africa.
In a tweet announcing the shutdown, CEO Emmanuel Babalola said that the shutdown was a decision made by stakeholders who want a restructuring of the company.
The startup will now focus on Cashlink, its peer-to-peer platform. The company reportedly hit 50,000 monthly active users and a $50 million monthly volume on Bundle and crossed over 3 million transactions on Cashlink.
“As Web3 and the blockchain community continue to grow, there is a need to focus on payment solutions that meet the ecosystem’s needs, which is the plan with Cashlink,” the statement read.
Following the announcement, users of the Bundle App now have until September 12 to withdraw all their funds from their in-app wallets.
The big picture: With Bundle’s shutdown, Africa’s crypto startup space takes another beating since the FTX shutdown in November 2022. In April, another Nigerian crypto startup, Lazerpay, shut down after it couldn’t raise funds for its operations. Much earlier, Fluidcoins—which also had trouble raising funds—got acquired by UAE-based crypto company Bitfinex.
Uber recording now available in Kenya
Image source: Zikoko Memes
Kenyan e-hailing space just got a little bit safer.
Over the weekend, Uber announced that Kenya would be the second African country where its audio recording feature would be made available.
Hear it from the horse’s mouth: In 2019, Uber launched its audio recording feature to help settle disputes among its drivers and riders. Accessible via the safety toolkit, the feature allows both drivers and riders to create audio recordings of their trips. The recordings will be only accessible to the Uber Support team who can only gain access to it in instances of disputes.
Regardless of who’s recording, the app will notify the other party that they’re being recorded.
The feature is live in several regions across Latin America and the US, but South Africa is the only African country to have the feature. In September 2022, the feature launched in the country where it’s now being used by 3,400 drivers and 80,000 riders.
Per the Uber Support team, the feature will soon be available for Kenyan riders and drivers too. In May, the service also noted that it would launch the feature in Nigeria soon.
African startups are harnessing WhatsApp’s power
In recent years, there has been a notable shift among African startups, as they increasingly turn to WhatsApp as a primary means to offer and distribute their products and services.
According to DataReportal’s Digital 2023: Global Overview report, WhatsApp has gained traction with 15.8% of internet users across the world preferring it over other platforms, as WhatsApp users spend an average of 17 hours and 20 minutes on the app each month. This trend is also particularly evident across Africa, where countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have over 70% of their internet users frequently using WhatsApp.
Image source: TC Insights
The attractiveness of WhatsApp as a distribution channel for African startups lies in its massive user base and the extensive time users spend on the app monthly. Notable examples include Foondamate
, a South African Ed-tech startup delivering educational solutions via an AI-powered conversational chatbot on WhatsApp, and MotiSure
, a Kenyan startup offering micro-insurance plans through chatbot interactions.
For the record, WhatsApp has become the third most used social media platform, with 2 billion Monthly Active Users (MAU) globally as of 2023. Another factor is WhatsApp’s ease of use and familiarity to users make it a convenient medium for businesses to interact with customers and offer products and services.
However, while WhatsApp offers immense potential to be tapped, it also comes with data privacy concerns, making it critical for African startups using WhatsApp to stick to the platform’s privacy policies and guidelines. Implementing robust security measures to protect customer information and ensuring compliance with relevant data protection regulations are important.
Startups should be transparent with customers about data usage and seek their consent when necessary. Establishing trust and credibility in handling customer data is key to the long-term success of this distribution approach.
In conclusion, African startups can strategically leverage WhatsApp while being mindful of its user-centric risks. They can also carve a successful path in the competitive space to offer innovative products and services to a large and engaged market across the African continent.
The World Wide Web3
* Data as of 16:50 PM WAT, July 23, 2023.
TC Twitter Space: Digital debt traps
Join our upcoming Twitter Space on “Digital debt traps: The harassment strategies of loan apps” on Monday, July 24, at 3 PM WAT. Our Speakers will discuss the lending behavior of Nigerians and delve into the concerning issue of digital debt traps, and the tactics employed by certain loan apps. Click here to join the event.
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