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Happy new month ☀️ 

And happy birthday, in arrears, to ChatGPT!

On November 30, 2022, the AI service was released and it amassed over 100 million active users within just three months—the fastest growth rate ever recorded for a consumer app. 

Since ChatGPT came into our lives, several companies from Google and Amazon to Microsoft have released their own AI chatbots/services that make everyone’s jobs, assignments, and businesses easier!

Governance

Putin’s daughter offers digital expertise to Africa

a photo of Vladimir Putin
Katerina Tikhonova, general director of Russia’s NIDF

Delegates from 36 African countries have been invited to Moscow next month to pitch digital services to Russian investors and IT specialists. 

The project is supported by the Innopraktika Centre, which is affiliated with the National Intellectual Development Foundation where Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s younger daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, is the general director.

What is the project about? Delegates from Africa first convened on July 28, at the Second Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, to discuss the project stylised as “e-Governance Knowledge Sharing Programme”. The programme aims to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of e-governance between Russia and African countries.

The programme will provide training, including lectures, seminars, workshops, and other learning activities led by Russian and African experts. The training will cover the theoretical aspects of e-governance, regulations, and technological solutions, with a focus on practical case studies. The programme will also include excursions and visits to partner companies’ offices.

Andrey Maslov, deputy executive director for Innopraktika, said the project was pivotal due to a significant demand for digitisation of public services, and high growth rates in African countries. 

A wider angle: The move is seen as Putin’s way of forming alliance with Africa to counter the impact of US and European sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine. By showcasing its proficiency in digital solutions across a wide spectrum—cybersecurity, public services, and electronic voting—Russia can potentially establish itself as a formidable contender in the ongoing geopolitical rivalry with China, the United States, and the European Union for influence in Africa.

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Big tech

Musk says monkey deaths aren’t related to Neuralik implants

a photo of Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is under scrutiny.

The company is being accused of mistreating monkeys used in its experiments.

What experiments? Neuralink is creating a brain-interface chip that can be implanted in the brain. According to the company, the chip will allow people with paralysis or other disabilities to control devices with their minds, and it will also be used to treat neurological disorders or improve human cognitive abilities. 

Speaking at a New York Times Dealbook conference, Musk reiterated previous statements from his social media platform, X, asserting that Neuralink had “never caused the death of a monkey”. He explained that the company chose terminally ill monkeys for experiments, to “minimise risk to healthy monkeys,” further highlighting that the monkeys live in what he described as a “monkey paradise,” located in Fremont, California.

A different narrative: Musk’s statement comes as the company faces an investigation into its animal treatment practices. Veterinary records obtained by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) from UC Davis, where Neuralink previously conducted its primate studies, found that twelve “previously healthy” monkeys had to be put down due to symptoms like bloody diarrhoea, paralysis, and brain swelling post-implant.

In a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the PCRM alleged that Musk’s assurances about Neuralink’s safety misled investors. In August, Neuralink raised $280 million in a funding round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. According to a filing published by the SEC, the company increased its previous funding by $43 million, from $280 million to $323 million, in the same month.

Zoom out: After receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May, Neuralink has announced the commencement of in-human trials for individuals with quadriplegia, with the study expected to span six years.


Economy

Black Friday fizzles out in Nigeria

GIF source: Tenor

Despite retailers offering discounts of up to 40%, stores across Nigeria are witnessing a noticeably low turnout for the 2023 Black Friday season.

Black Friday, a day of big discounts, is not as popular as it once was due to high inflation and low purchasing power. Under President Bola Tinubu’s reforms, Nigerians have prioritised spending on essentials like food and housing, with most believing there is no difference between shopping during Black Friday and shopping days after the offer expires.

Here’s why: 2023 started with a cash crunch in Q1 that strained finance and reduced household spending. As of October 2023, inflation had risen consistently, reaching an 18-year high of 27.33% and was predicted by KPMG to hit 30% in November. Food inflation soared to 31.5%, forcing several Nigerians to rely on social welfare programs to survive. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) delayed holding rate meetings  to address the escalating inflation, which further complicated the economic landscape.

The decline in Black Friday enthusiasm has also reportedly made businesses forgo exclusive deals this year considering the low turnouts this season.

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Paystack enabled single and bulk transfers to M-PESA Consumer Wallets for merchants in Kenya. See what Paystack has been up to in 2023 →

Crypto

South Africa releases crypto licence updates

crypto SA

South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has released new updates on the licence status for crypto asset service providers in the country.

As of November 2023, the FSCA received 128 renewal applications. 

State of the licences: Only 36 of the 128 licence application assessments were complete; the regulatory body said it would present the completed applications on December 12, 2023. 

Fourteen applications are yet to be analysed according to the body, and those licences will be presented at the Licensing Executive Committee meeting on March 12, 2024. Twenty-two applications are pending for various reasons and will be presented at the Licensing Executive Committee meeting on February 13, 2024. Nineteen applications were discontinued due to insufficient experience and inadequate operational guidelines, and 2 applications remain undisclosed.

Side bar: The FSCA issues the licence to crypto organisations to help protect consumers by ensuring that crypto asset service providers are financially sound and have adequate cybersecurity measures in place.

The FSCA gauged each applicant’s operational framework, including KYC onboarding, data protection, cyber risk management, conflict of interest management, complaints handling, and credit counterparty risk management, as a prerequisite for application approval. 

In addition to this, the FSCA also partnered with other regulatory authorities, such as the Payments Association of South Africa and the Reserve Bank Financial Surveillance Department.

TC Insights

Funding tracker

Funding tracker

This week, South African fleet management startup GoMetro announced the successful completion of a $11.5 million Series A funding round. New investor Zenobē led the round, with significant participation by FutureGrowth Asset Managers.

Here are other deals for the week:

  • Cameroonian e-health startup Waspito raised $2.5 million in funding. DP World secured the funding via Newtown Partners, Saviu Ventures, AAIC Investment, Axian Ventures, and Health54.
  • Tunisian retail tech startup Winshot secured an undisclosed six-figure round of funding in a round led by the Tunis-based VC firm 216 Capital.

That’s it for this week!

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more funding announcements. You can also visit DealFlow, our real-time funding tracker.

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Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3

Source:

OneLiquidity  logo

Coin Name

Current Value

Day

Month

Bitcoin $38,176

+ 0.60%

+ 10.85%

Ether $2,095

+ 2.96%

+ 16.03%

IOTA

$0.23

– 9.91%

+ 47.53%

Chainlink $14.36

– 1.03%

+ 27.24%

* Data as of 06:30 AM WAT, December 1, 2023.

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Written and Edited by: Faith Omoniyi, Mariam Muhammad & Timi Odueso

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