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Lemfi halts operations in Ghana amid regulatory concerns
Ridwan Olalere and Rian Cochran, co-founders of LemFi.
LemFi has been forced to suspend its operations in Ghana.
The remittance startup halted its operations one week after the Central Bank of Ghana (BoG) identified LemFi as one of eight fintechs operating without the necessary regulatory approvals.
What approval? In Ghana, like many other countries, companies can’t trade foreign currency without a licence. If caught doing so, they stand to face penalties of up to seven hundred penalty units, imprisonment for a maximum of eighteen months, or both. In this case, LemFi was barred from operating in Ghana along with other operators like Wise and PayPal. The Central Bank of Ghana also warned all financial institutions in the country to stop dealing with these fintechs.
Following LemFi’s suspension, users will no longer be able to send money to banks or mobile money wallets in the country.
What now? A source familiar with the company’s operations said that it plans to work with Ghanaian regulators to obtain the necessary licences.
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Twiga secures funding to pay its debts
GIF source: Tenor
Twiga has secured undisclosed funding just weeks after it faced a KES40 million ($261,878.75) debt lawsuit from Incentro Africa, a cloud services vendor.
Creadev, Juven, TLcom Capital Partners, and DOB Equity led the founding round. The investment comes at a time when Twiga is reinventing itself after previously undergoing a rough patch. The startup laid off a third of its workforce in August. While the CEO didn’t expressly state what the funds would be used for, the announcement came after Twiga’s CEO said, in a now-deleted medium post, that plans were underway to repay long-standing dues.
ICYMI:In September, Incentro Africa, a Kenyan Google Premier partner who provided Google Cloud Services and Partner Service Funds to Twiga Foods, sued Twiga for the non-payment of KES 40 million ($261,878.75) debt.
Incentro Africa had threatened to pursue a liquidation order against Twiga Foods if they failed to settle the debt. However, none of that will be happening as Twiga seems to be getting out of the water with the new capital injection from its old-time investors.
Twiga, however, said Incentro Africa’s legal actions were fueled by ulterior motives. Twiga says that Incentro Africa’s actions were fueled by Twiga’s enquiry of Google Ireland regarding its account’s billing setup, structure, and management.
Kenya’s Startup Bill to be signed into law in 2024
Kenyan president William Ruto signing the 2023 Finance Bill
Kenya’s President, William Ruto has announced that the country’s Startup Bill 2022 is set to become law by May or April 2024.
The Startup Bill was initially introduced in the Senate in 2021. After receiving its first reading in February 2023, it is currently undergoing further discussions in the Senate.
Stat of the week: Only three African countries have enacted a Startup Act—Tunisia, Congo and Nigeria. Tunisia’s Act was enacted in 2018, while Congo’s was enacted in September 2022, one month before Nigeria passed its own.
Key highlights of Kenya’s bill: The Startup Bill will offer incentives for registered startups, like tax breaks and a dedicated platform for resources. There’s also a plan for a credit guarantee scheme to financially support and train startups for growth.
If enacted, the Startup Bill will establish a comprehensive legal framework designed to bolster technological growth, foster innovation, and attract both talent and capital.
Zoom out: The context of this legislation is crucial, given Kenya’s ongoing struggle to address unemployment among its youth population. Kenya’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector employs over 80% of Kenyan youth annually to help alleviate unemployment in the country. Despite their efforts, these SMEs struggle to be sustainable as nearly 75% of them shut down after a short period.
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Orange withdraws from Ethiopian Telecom stake acquisition
GIF source: Tenor
Orange has taken a step back from its decision to acquire a 45% stake in Ethiopian operator Ethio Telecom. According to the French-owned telecom, market conditions are not conducive for a successful investment.
ICYMI: In June 2021, Ethiopia expressed interest in buying a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom. However, in March 2022, the sale was postponed due to economic conditions. The process was later reactivated in November 2022, and in February, the stake was increased.
In May 2021, a consortium led by Kenya’s top operator, Safaricom, secured the first private licence to compete with Ethio Telecom. However, further competition has been hindered by various factors, including, a two-year civil war in the northern Tigray region that ended in November 2022 and difficult macroeconomic conditions.
Zoom out: Earlier this month, the Ethiopian government cancelled the process of granting a second private telecoms licence due to insufficient market interest. This decision highlights the ongoing challenges that the telecom sector in Ethiopia is currently facing.
Mozambique approves R1.5 trillion ($80 billion) energy plan
GIF source: Tenor
Mozambique is saying hello to a renewable revolution.
The country is seeking R1.5 trillion ($80 billion) in funding to implement its energy transition strategy. The government says the plan will include the addition of 2 gigawatts of hydropower capacity by 2030—enough electricity to supply the annual energy needs of over 2 million people.
Mozambique’s energy plans: The government plans to encourage building privately owned solar and wind power plants through auctions and establish “green industrial parks” to promote domestic mineral processing.
Additionally, the government aims to expand the use of ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline and diesel fuels and encourage the adoption of electric and compressed natural gas vehicles. The government also plans to dissuade its citizens who rely on wood and charcoal for cooking to adopt more sustainable cooking practices
That’s not all: Mozambique’s publicly announced renewable energy plans are nothing short of ambitious. The country has more in the works but will let the cat out of the bag at the COP28 stage on December 2.
Only about 30% of Mozambiquans have access to electricity, and those who do receive less than 4 hours of electricity per day. Mozambique’s ambitious energy plan is essential to address the country’s acute energy needs, fostering economic development and improvement in education and healthcare services.
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* Data as of 21:35 PM WAT, November 28, 2023.
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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao is stepping down from the company’s board. This comes a week after the founder stepped down as CEO as part of his guilty plea to charges of violating US laws. CoinDesk reports that Zhao is officially stepping down as chairman of the Binance board, and will transfer his voting rights to a proxy. A US judge has also ordered that the founder must stay in the US for the time being instead of returning to the UAE where Zhao is a citizen—a country with whom the US has no extradition treaty. The judge will also decide if Zhao will remain in the US until his February 2024 sentencing.
In Spain, the government has passed a new law that will require all crypto holders to declare their foreign crypto assets by May 2024. CoinTelegraph reports that Spanish citizens holding crypto on non-Spanish platforms will have to declare their virtual assets abroad under tax declaration form 721. This is all in a bid to ensure that crypto holders in the country are properly taxed.
- 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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