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We’d like to make an addendum to yesterday’s edition of TC Daily.
The initial version we sent out was headlined “Novastar Ventures closes $40 million Fund”. We have now corrected it to reflect that Novastar Ventures received an $80 million commitment from SBI Holdings. The funds will also be spread across future funds.
You can read the update here.
MTN might exit three African markets
Image source: News24
African telecoms MTN is considering exiting three African markets.
During its quarterly update call, CEO Ralph Mupita told journalists that the telecoms is engaged in discussions about the potential “orderly exit” of its operations in Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry.
While the telecom has yet to reveal why it’s leaving these African markets, its financial reports show that it’s facing numerous challenges across the West and Central Africa region. Mupita pointed to signs of inflation and currency devaluation across several markets.
Small markets, small shares: Per Bloomberg, these three countries also aren’t heavy hitters for the telecoms, contributing a scant 1.6% to MTN’s revenue in 2022. Across these countries, the telecom controls a secondary chunk of the market share, about 30% in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry, beaten out by Orange Mobile which controls over 60% of the market share in both countries. In Liberia, Lonestar MTN is the second-largest telecom in the country, with Orange Liberia controlling over 50% of the Liberian telecoms market.
It’s also not the first time the telecom has hinted at exiting these countries. In May 2023, it was reportedly in talks with Axian Group Limited to sell its assets in these countries.
Exiting Afghanistan: The telecom is also nearing a close for its exit from the Middle East.
In 2020, MTN announced its plan to exit the Middle East, focusing on Africa to simplify its structure and reduce risk exposure. This decision was driven by increased complexity due to US sanctions on Iran and growing troubles in Afghanistan. Later, MTN sold its Yemen business and stopped operations in Syria and Afghanistan. In August 2022, the company received a $35 million offer for its Afghanistan business and recently confirmed the sale to M1 New Ventures.
The group, yesterday, announced that its Afghanistan exit will be complete within two months.
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Bolt denies acquisition of Little Cab
GIF source: Tenor
Bolt Kenya, the global ride-hailing company’s subsidiary in Kenya, has denied talks of an acquisition of Little Cab, a Kenyan competitor. This comes after a claim by the Kenyan publication Business Daily that both parties were in talks.
Per Business Daily, acquisition talks between Bolt and Little Cab broke down after the National Transport Authority of Kenya (NTSA) renewed Bolt’s annual operating licence. However,Bolt told TechCabal in an email that it had no appetite for acquisition, and had not been in talks with Little Cab for such acquisitions.
ICYMI: Bolt’s licence renewal was halted due to multiple assault complaints from customers and riders who wanted the removal of illegal booking fees. The ride-hailing platform then dropped the controversial “illegal” booking fee and opened a local office in Nairobi to resolve driver complaints.
While Bolt struggled to get its licence back, Little Cab’s CEO, Kamal Budhabhatti, had mailed Bolt for a possible collaboration in the shape of a merger and acquisition to help solve its licensing woes. However, Budhabhatti made a retreat after Bolt got its licence renewed.
Zoom out: A potential acquisition of Little Cab—which is present in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana—makes sense for Bolt; it would increase its market share of the ride-hailing company. Little Cab says it is profitable and plans to sell 25% of its stake to private investors.
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MTN SA pays $103 million to ICASA
Image source: Zikoko Memes
MTN is paying its debts everywhere it goes.
Financial results of the telecom’s South African arm, for Q3 2023, show that the telecom paid R1.9 billion ($103 million) to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for an outstanding payment for the low-band 800MHz spectrum it acquired in the 2022 ICASA auction.
Dig in: In March 2022, ICASA received bids from telecommunication agencies in South Africa—MTN, Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Rain Networks, Telkom and Vodacom —for the auction of its high-demand radio frequency spectrum or International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum.
MTN purchased 100MHz in the spectrum auction for R5.2 billion ($281 million) and paid about R3.3 billion ($179 million) to the regulator. This spectrum allowed telecommunications companies to provide better coverage and faster speeds to their customers.
MTN was not the only company on the regulator’s debt list, per local media. The ICASA gave other telecom companies up until the end of last month to clear up the R5.8 billion ($312 million) debts.
Lights out: Aside from the debt repayment to the ICASA, MTN South Africa’s third-quarter financials showed few positives. Its gross earnings increased from 36.2% in Q1 2023 to 37.2% in Q3.
WeWork inc files for bankruptcy, WeWork SA denies affiliation
GIF source: Tenor
Global workspace provider WeWork Inc. has filed for bankruptcy. Per the Financial Times, the process will allow the company to convert $3 billion of existing debt commitments into equity in the reorganised company. Additionally, the bankruptcy process will allow the company to terminate pre-existing leases with little financial penalty.
This comes three months after the company initially warned, in August 2023, that it could file for bankruptcy to restructure $13 billion in outstanding lease obligations.
Following the news of WeWork Inc’s bankruptcy, WeWork South Africa has reiterated to TechCabal that it was in no way affiliated with the troubled company, and won’t be impacted by its bankruptcy.
In March, WeWork entered a franchise “partnership” with SiSebenza, a pan-African real estate investor, which gave SiSebenza the exclusive right to operate WeWork’s existing locations in South Africa. The deal also granted SiSebenza exclusive rights to grow and operate the WeWork franchise in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria.
Dark days, few friends: Although the initial agreement was referred to by both parties as a partnership, WeWork SA has stated in a communication to TechCabal that it is in no way affiliated with WeWork Global. It also added that it has 100% ownership of WeWork SA.
“While our counterparts work to improve their business’ economics, position their community to grow, and enable their company to continue delivering best-in-class services to its members, our operations remain unchanged. We will continue to provide the service and experience our members have come to expect from us,” said Andrew Robinson and Stefano Migliore, the owners of WeWork SA.
It appears some franchises of WeWork Global are also distancing themselves from the troubled company. Last week, WeWork India also assumed the same stance as WeWork South Africa about bankruptcy.
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The World Wide Web3
* Data as of 20:35 PM WAT, November 7, 2023.
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Kenya is considering regulating its $20 billion crypto market. TechCabal reports that the Kenyan parliament has asked the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) to prepare the first draft of a crypto bill. The bill, which is being considered the Virtual Assets Service Provider’s Bill, will include a digital asset regulatory framework, tax integration and revenue guidelines.
Attendees of an NFT event in Hong Kong are suffering eye damage and sunburns linked to UV lights. The Verge reports that attendees of ApeFest, a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection event that was held in Hong Kong last week, are seeking medical attention for severe eye burn and skin-related injuries that have been linked to the ultraviolet rays from the stage lights used at the event. So far, the event organisers say only 15 of the event’s 2,250 attendees have reported these injuries.
- Applications for the New Venture Competition by the HBS African Business Club is now open. The competition is aimed at fostering and supporting innovative businesses on the African continent. Ten semi-finalists will be invited to pitch their business in front of over 1,000 attendees at the conference, and the three top companies will receive non-dilutive cash prizes of $30,000, $15,000, and $10,000. Apply by November 15.
- Applications are open for the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Research fellowship 2024(up to $15,000). The Social Science Research Council offers fellowships to support the completion of doctoral degrees and to promote next-generation social science research in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The fellowships support dissertation research on peace, security, and development topics. Apply by February 11, 2024.
- The citizens of Commonwealth countries in Africa can now apply for the Commonwealth Africa Cyber Fellowship Programme 2024. Selected experts will serve as fellows for a year, and get exclusive access to academic research opportunities, networking events and annual conferences, with a focus on enhancing cybersecurity policies and institutions across Commonwealth countries in Africa. Apply by December 10.
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