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Good morning ☀️

If you ever need someone to talk to, here’s a notice that ChatGPT is here for you. 

Yesterday, the company rolled out a voice chat feature for all ChatGPT users, and it’s completely free to use for everyone who downloads the app! You can choose from one of five voices and ask it anything, the same way you’d ask with the text feature. 

There’s a boatload of functionality for this from having discussions about work, talking through your ideas, or even asking how to make $20 million like we did—investments and high-risk ventures, btw. 👍🏿

Hopefully, OpenAI will employ its own service to mediate its in-house CEO scuffles.

Startups

GetEquity questioned over unpaid funds

GIF source: Tenor

Yesterday, a TechCabal investigation revealed that capital marketplace GetEquity was at the centre of a police complaint on unpaid funds. 

According to the report, another startup, Peppa, filed the complaint after GetEquity stalled in remitting about $14,000 which Peppa had raised on GetEquity’s platform. 

The report led to the detention of GetEquity co-founder Temitope Ekundayo who was invited for questioning by the police force and subsequently detained for two days.

Backstory: GetEquity operates as a private marketplace where other startups can raise money from private individuals. In July, Peppa had raised $43,000 on GetEquity’s platform. When it requested a payout, GetEquity instead proposed a four-week payment plan which Peppa founders say GetEquity did not stick to.

According to Jude Dike, co-founder at GetEquity, fluctuations in dollar rates affected the startup’s ability to remit funds. Investments on GetEquity are made in several currencies, but the platform remits its funds in US dollars.

At the time of the complaint, GetEquity had remitted $29,000 to Peppa and had $14,000 to balance. With the report and detainment of its co-founder, the startup now says it has paid the outstanding amount.

While Peppa says it only filed a police complaint as a last resort, GetEquity says it’s now considering legal action over the detention of its co-founder.

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Layoffs

Alerzo lays off 100 employees eight months after last layoff round

Adewale Opaleye, CEO Alerzo. Image Source: TechEconomy.
Adewale Opaleye, CEO Alerzo. Image Source: TechEconomy.

Alerzo, an e-commerce startup, has laid off at least 100 employees eight months after it laid off 400 employees.

The e-commerce startup, which secured $10.5 million in a Series A round in 2021, cited the implementation of an “end-to-end warehouse management system” and improved process automation as the reasons for the layoffs. 

Insiders familiar with Alerzo’s operations revealed that the majority of the affected workforce worked in the company’s 40 warehouses. The company implemented new software that eliminated the need for several lines of approval, leading to redundant roles, and at least two staff members were let go from each warehouse.

Support measures: Alerzo is taking steps to support the impacted employees. Laid-off employees will receive a one-month severance package and continued Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) coverage until the end of the year.

Funding

Aduna Capital launches $20 million fund for Northern Nigerian startups

OkadaBooks
Surayyah Ahmad Sani and Sanusi Ismaila

Aduna Capital has launched its first $20 million fund dedicated to discovering and nurturing early-stage startups across Africa, especially those in Northern Nigeria.

The investment firm, founded by TTLabs founding partner Surayyah Ahmad Sani and CoLab Founder Sanusi Ismaila, is focused on empowering female founders and startups in underserved regions like Northern Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria? Yes. With a population of over 100 million people, Northern Nigeria offers a vast untapped market, positioning itself as a pivotal region for growth.

Additionally, research has shown that female-led startups generate 78 cents in revenue for every $1 invested, while male-led startups generate only 31 cents. The firm aims to focus on this by giving 50% of its investments to female-led startups.

A pan-African approach: Aduna Capital’s investment focus also has a pan-African approach beyond northern Nigeria. The fund will put 25% of its investments towards startups in the rest of Nigeria, and another 25% across the African continent. 

Per Ahmad, the fund will be investing between $50,000 to $200,000, in startups, but will occasionally write angel checks to help fill gaps in funding from other investors in the region. The firm also plans to sell its stakes in companies when they reach the Series A stage. However, Ahmad mentions that the firm intends to keep about 20% of the companies they invest in and continue to invest more money in these chosen companies as they grow.

Zoom out: Aduna joins a growing number of venture capital firms that are recognizing the entrepreneurial potential of Northern Nigeria. THESCATHGROUP (TSC), for example, has already provided early-stage funding and advisory support to ten tech startups in the region, including The AgroTrader and OffKay. These investments are helping to fuel innovation and economic growth in Northern Nigeria.

Introducing: IP Whitelisting on Paystack

Tighten security for your business by declaring the specific IP addresses from which Paystack should process API requests. Here’s how to set it up.

Media

You can stream Spotify for free in Mali, Madagascar, and DRC

There's money to be made meme
GIF source: Tenor

Spotify users across three countries in sub-Saharan Africa no longer have to worry about data to stream music on the platform. 

Telecom Orange has partnered with Spotify to allow smartphone users in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Mali to listen to music on Spotify without buying data. 

How does it work? The French telco will be providing free data bonuses for Spotify users who sign up for an Orange mobile offer in these countries. The subscribers will then have access to Spotify’s extensive music library. This service is set to expand to Guinea soon.

Why? The partnership between Orange and Spotify wants to tackle the expensive mobile data issue in Africa. According to the latest data from Statista, the average price for 1 GB of mobile data in SSA in 2022 was $4.47, one of the most expensive worldwide.

Zoom out: Despite the challenges, Africa has witnessed a substantial increase in internet usage, with nearly 602 million users in 2022—six times the number in 2010. The partnership between Orange and Spotify reflects a broader effort to overcome barriers and foster connectivity and entertainment across the continent.

Download the State of Tech in Africa Q3 Report

Let’s revisit and review the tech sector in Q3 2023. Here are the main points:

  • African startups raised $499 million in Q1 2023 alone, down by 47% from the $916 million raised in Q2. 
  • Energy-focused startups received the most funding compared to other sectors.
  • The number of acquisitions stood at 7.
  • Over 738 tech workers were laid off in Africa as harsh macroeconomic conditions persist.
  • Namibia and South Africa officially approved the licensing of crypto platforms mandating all crypto platforms in both countries to hold a license before they can operate.

Download the report here and get more information about the major trends that shaped African tech in Q3 2023.

Telecom

Telkom needs more time to buy 5G in South Africa

Telkom is looking for an understanding regulator. The network provider is asking South Africa’s telecom regulator to move the next spectrum auction from 2024 to 2025 as it needs more time to prepare. 

According to Telkom, it’s worried that the tough economic situation, including South Africa’s increasing load shedding, could make it hard to join the auction. 

This delay comes while the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) plans to release more high-speed internet spectrum by March 2024. This spectrum could make 5G better and maybe even cheaper across the country.

Buying more spectrum: In March 2022, during South Africa’s first spectrum auction, Telkom won some spectrum for which it still owes ICASA R2.5 billion ($80.6 million). Telkom had problems paying for it because of signal issues in certain areas which it now says it has solved. 

It’s now requesting more time for the 2024 auction to conduct studies on how it uses its spectrum.

But Telkom is spending less on its network: This request comes on the heels of its halftime year fiscal report which shows that the telecom has spent less money on its network this year which could influence how regulators respond to the telecom’s request. It has, however, reported a 4.1% Y-o-Y increase in revenue, and a 46.7% increase in its half-year profits. 

A towering sale: Amidst the profit surge, the company is also in talks to sell the tower assets of its Swiftnet tower business to a private equity firm. Under Swiftnet, the telecom controls about 6,255 masts and towers, and the company has been trying to sell the business off for a while. Per Bloomberg, it’s in an exclusive conversation right now but there’s no assurance that the deal will pan out. 

Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3

Source:

OneLiquidity  logo

Coin Name

Current Value

Day

Month

Bitcoin $36,688

– 2.43%

+ 24.57%

Ether $1,958

– 3.70%

+ 24.15%

Solana

$55.37

– 4.25%

+ 92.03%

Celestia $5.55

– 17.47%

+ 164.00%

* Data as of 23:31 PM WAT, November 21, 2023.

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Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has resigned as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice. Changpeng who, along with his company in March, was accused of breaking anti-month laundering rules in the US will also plead guilty to the charges as part of the deal and pay $50 million in fines. Sentencing for the founder is also set for a later date, and he will be replaced by the head of regional markets Richard Teng who is the new CEO of Binance. 

Binance, on the other hand, is to make a complete exit from the US. The company will also have to pay a $4 billion fine, and appoint an independent compliance monitor for three years and report its compliance efforts to the U.S. government. 

For Zhao, the deal will see him continue to keep his majority shareholder status in Binance. He’ll also be allowed to return to work in Binance after the three-year compliance monitoring period.

Opportunities

  • 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.
  • Applications are open for the Mastercard Foundations Scholars Program 2023/2024 at the Carnegie Melon University Africa. The program provides generous financial, social, and academic support for students whose talents and promise exceed their financial resources. Apply by January 15, 2024.

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