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Nigeria’s tech ecosystem found a ray of hope last night.
Bosun Tijani, founder and CEO of pan-African incubator CcHub, was nominated as the country’s new minister of communications and digital economy. It’s not set in stone yet, but if he’s approved, the ecosystem will have one of its own leading the policy development and innovation in the tech space, and yes, that includes the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act!
Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Kenya suspends Worldcoin
Kenya’s interior ministry has suspended the operations of Worldcoin, a blockchain product which requires users to scan and register their eyeballs. The parent company of Worldcoin, Tools for Humanity, is a registered data processor in the country, but the ministry says it needs to investigate the authenticity and legality of its activities.
Image source: Odhiambo Ogola (@PhilipOgola)
ICYMI: Worldcoin launched In Kenya and 26 other countries to collect the iris scans of people. The Worldcoin project has been popular in Kenya, with long queues forming at several scanning venues. Participants receive 25 Worldcoin tokens (WLD) as compensation, and several crypto exchanges are present at the venues to convert the digital tokens into local currency. Currently, in Kenya, the 25 tokens are worth Ksh7,000 ($50). So far over 350,000 Kenyans have queued up to get scanned.
Why does Worldcoin need this data anyway? Worldcoin’s parent company, Tools for Humanity, says it wants to protect humans from impersonation by AI bots. Interestingly the founder of popular chat or ChatGPT, Sam Altman, is one of the founders of Worldcoin. Since each individual’s iris data is unique, the scanned iris data will be registered on the blockchain, creating a unique identity that can serve as proof that the user is a human being. These scans will then form digital identities, serving as a KYC to access essential financial services.
Bright red flags: Globally, there’s quite a buzz about the motive behind this blockchain-based and AI-fighting digital passport project. Before it launched, the project was accused of taking more data than what it disclosed to users. The founder of the Ethereum blockchain, Vitalik Buretin, still holds that opinion and other privacy concerns about the project.
In Africa, there are questions about why they are creating such an ID in countries where AI and blockchain tech aren’t yet part of everyday life.
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Safaricom and Craft Silicon launch BNPL products in Kenya
Kenyan telecom Safaricom and software development company, Craft Silicon, have launched similar products in the Kenyan market: Faraja and SpotIt.
Faraja, which is a partnership between Safaricom and financial services firm EDOMx, is a Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) product, while SpotIt is setting itself apart from Faraja as a “Get Now Pay Later (GNPL)” product. Both products are similar but have different terms and target customers.
Craft Silicon CEO Kamal Budhabhatti (R) during the launch of SpotIt
Safaricom’s Faraja: Faraja empowers businesses to grow their sales by enabling their customers to buy now and pay later. The product has been in development for over a year and was launched a few days ago after approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). Customers can make purchases ranging from Ksh20 ($0.14) to Ksh100,000 ($703) without any interest fee, and have a 30-day period to repay the loan. Faraja’s services, however, are limited to Kenya, so customers cannot use it for international purchases.
Craft Silicon’s SpotIt: SpotIt presents consumers with the chance to engage in credit-oriented shopping, followed by the option to gradually repay their loans through instalments. Unlike Faraja, SpotIt allows customers to create virtual cards for international purchases and payments. The credit limits are determined based on the customer’s credit score, a parameter evaluated by the bank that serves as the gateway to SpotIt. For customers who choose to acquire products on credit via SpotIt, the repayment schedule spans a span of six to twelve months.
SpotIt is revolutionising BPNL services in Africa: Unlike other BNPL services, SpotIt is a mini app integrated into existing banking apps rather than a standalone service. So far, the model has approximately 30–40 merchants. Craft Silicon has also partnered with four banks, including NCBA, to integrate SpotIt as a mini app, and others like Equity Bank are expected to join soon.
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Flutterwave’s $end Mobile rebrands to Send App
GIF Source: Tenor
Payments company Flutterwave has rebranded its $end Mobile product to Send App.
When it initially launched in 2021, Send App enabled payments to various countries, including the UK, EU, Nigeria, and other African countries. With the recent update, the app has expanded its recipient countries to include Egypt and Sénégal. Additionally, users in the US and Canada can now send money through the app to other countries.
The product also got a new look and is available for download on Android and iOS.
Zoom out: This news comes after Flutterwave launched Tuition, a product that enables Africans to make quick payments of school fees to educational institutions abroad.
Remedial Health raises $12 million in Series A funding round
Remedial Health Founders Samuel Okwuada and Victor Benjamin
Remedial Health, a Nigerian health tech startup is remedying Nigeria’s drug counterfeit problem.
The health tech startup secured $12 million through a combination of equity and debt funding, to support the delivery of targeted financial services to neighbourhood pharmacies. The Series A funding round was led by US-based venture capital firm QED Investors and Ventures Platform. Ycombinator, Tencent, and Gaingels also participated in the round.
Founded in 2021 by Samuel Okwuada and Victor Benjamin, Remedial Health offers digital procurement and platforms for patient medication records (PMR), streamlining the process for local pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and hospitals to access cost-effective and authentic retail medications.
100 million packs sold in 2022: This new funding will enable Remedial Health to expand the scope of its offerings throughout Nigeria—the startup presently operates in 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states. Remedial Health works with more than 300 manufacturers and serves more than 5,000 hospitals, pharmacies and PPMVs across these 34 Nigerian states. According to Remedial’s CEO, 30 new stores have been opened due to Remedial’s financing offering. Okwuada claims the startup sold over 100 million individual packs of medicine in 2022. “If you apply the 40% counterfeit rule, it means that as a company, we replaced 40 million counterfeit drugs in the Nigeria market,” he said.
Zoom out: In Nigeria, four out of ten packs of medicine sold are counterfeits. While counterfeit drugs sabotage the local pharmaceutical industry and compromise the treatment of diseases, Remedial Health is addressing this issue and regularising its supply chain.
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* Data as of 06:10 AM WAT, August 3, 2023.
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- Visa is open to applications for its Africa Fintech Accelerator Program. Startups up to the Series A stage are encouraged to apply for a chance to gain unparalleled expertise, valuable industry connections, cutting-edge technology, and potential investment funding. Apply by August 25.
- Women Who Build Africa (WWBA), a vibrant community that caters to the needs and growth of women in technology across the African continent, has put out an open invitation for female founders, investors, and ecosystem partners to participate in their inaugural annual assembly. The initiative comes with the promise of an all-expense-paid trip to Nairobi for ten selected founders. Apply by August 14.
- If you are between 18 – 35 years old, apply for a spot at the 2023 Landscape Leadership Workshop ($2,000 grant available), and embark on a transformative journey toward landscape leadership. Apply by August 10.
- Applications are open for the Diamonstein-Spelvogel Visual Journalism Fellowship 2023(up to $75,000). ProPublica seeks a creative, empathetic and ambitious visual journalist to join their editorial team as the inaugural Diamonstein-Spelvogel Visual Journalism fellow. Apply by August 8.
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