BD Insider 158: Where Netflix invested $175 million in Africa

Inside letter 158: the growth of Netflix's investment in Africa, the partnership between MTN and Apple Music, and the Mastercard Foundation edtech fellowship in South Africa.

BD Insider 158: Where Netflix invested $175 million in Africa
Some actors in African Netflix's originals | Credit: The Hollywood Reporter 

In letter 158, we will examine:

  • the partnership between MTN and Apple Music
  • the growth of Netflix's multi-million dollar African investment
  • Mastercard Foundation edtech fellowship in South Africa

and other noteworthy information like:

  • the latest African Tech Startup Deals
  • opportunities, interesting reads and more

But first, let's talk about HealthTech innovations at home and abroad.

In April 2021, the University of Oxford's malaria vaccine became the first to achieve the WHO-specified 75% efficacy goal after more than 30 years of research and development.

The next hurdle would be to get governments to approve its use in their jurisdiction. Particularly governments in the WHO Africa region, whose constituency accounted for 96% of all deaths caused by malaria.

Finally, after two years of licensing, West Africa's Ghana became the first country to approve the malaria vaccine (R21/Matrix-M) developed by Oxford.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Jos are developing a COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, years after the pandemic. On the one hand, it's a welcomed development that local universities are taking on global issues. But on the other hand, is that the best use of our time as a nation?

3️⃣ The big three!

MTN Nigeria to enable airtime subscription on Apple Music

Last week, MTN Nigeria announced a collaboration with Apple Music that allows its users to subscribe to the streaming platform with airtime instead of virtual cards.  

Why it matters: In 2022, due to "market realities on foreign exchange", several Nigerian banks suspended international transactions on their Naira cards; this was after most of them reduced the monthly spending limit on the cards. A few months later, most Nigerian fintechs also suspended their virtual card services for users indefinitely.

Although a few other banks and fintechs still offered the service, several users experienced difficulties in making international payments, this includes subscriptions to streaming platforms.  

With this collaboration, both Android and iPhone users will be able to use their MTN lines to subscribe to Apple Music for ₦1000 airtime monthly through SMS, USSD or the myMTN App. "You do not require a debit card at all. You will be charged directly from your airtime balance," MTN Nigeria said in a statement.

Subscribe via USSD by dialling *447*2*4#and through SMS by sending 'Music' to 8000

Zoom in: Global music streaming revenue reached $16.9 billion in 2021, according to Statista. Streaming revenues now account for over 65% of total global recorded music revenue.

Africa remains an active contributor to the aforementioned streaming revenue with South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria as the major markets. PwC projects that Nigeria will contribute $17.5 million to global music streaming revenue this year.

Netflix invested $175 million in sub-Saharan Africa

Since 2016, Netflix says it has invested about $175 million in film content production in sub-Saharan Africa, creating over 10,000 jobs within this period. Aside from production, the global video streaming platform launched the $1 million Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund for film and TV students in the region.

"We were thrilled by the significant milestones that our investments delivered within a relatively short frame of time, particularly in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya," Shola Sanni, Netflix's Director of Public Policy in sub-Saharan Africa, said.

Why it matters: Within the last six years, its investment has contributed $218 million to the GDP of  South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya; as well as $44 million in tax revenue. "We can attest to the fact that there is a huge socio-economic benefit that Netflix injects into the ecosystems where we operate," Shola added.

With over 1.4 billion people, Africa's GDP is estimated at $3.1 trillion, and the film industry—which Netflix is part of—accounts for $5 billion of that number. Although the industry currently employs five million across the continent, it has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and $20 billion in annual revenue, according to a report by UNESCO.

The streaming company says it intends to expand its investment to other countries on the continent.

Dig in: Here are insights into Netflix's operations in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

  • In South Africa, Netflix invested in over 170 licensed titles, and commissioned 16 original series including; Queen Sono, How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding and Blood & Water. All of these productions were worth over $125 million in productions; contributing about $178 million towards the nation's GDP.
  • Over $23 million has been invested since 2016 in over 250 local licensed titles, co-produced and commissioned film content in Nigeria. "Through direct, indirect, and expenditure impacts across the economy, our investments have contributed $39 million towards GDP," the company said.
Netflix's socio-economic impact in sub-Saharan Africa since 2016

Netflix did not disclose its investment and socio-economic impact in Kenya. However, the company said it has been a major pillar in supporting and developing the country's creative industry.

Mastercard selects 12 South African startups for its edtech fellowship

In partnership with a South African non-profit Injini, Mastercard Foundation has selected 12 edtech startups for the inaugural cohort of its edtech fellowship in the country.

"The cohort of twelve fellows selected by Injini and other partners are examples of the most promising educational technology solutions in South Africa," Joseph Nsengimana, Director of The Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning, said in a statement seen by

The selected edtech startups include; Afrika Tikkun Bambanani, Ambani Africa, BuzzKidz Buzz-in-a-Box, Click Learning, Code4Kids, Digify Africa, FunDza Literacy Trust, Matric Live, Reflective Learning, Resolute Education, Yenza and Zaio. 

Why it matters: "As South Africa faces mounting challenges in the education sector, Injini is thrilled to work with the Mastercard Foundation and our other partners to support these businesses that have the potential to drive significant change in this field," according to Krista Davidson, Executive Director at Injini.

In 2022, African edtech startups raised only 0.72% of the total venture capital on the continent, according to BD Funding Tracker. The selected startups will receive about R1,000,000 (~ $540 000) in equity-free venture funding. Other benefits include; pedagogical evaluation and certification by EdTech Impact and Education Alliance Finland, exposure and growth in new markets amongst others.

"Through our combined support, these entrepreneurs will be empowered to scale their innovations and effect positive change in teaching and learning across the country," Nsengimana added.

Dig in: The Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship was launched in 2019 and supported 12 African EdTech companies from 7 countries in its first year, the foundation claims. The fellows have reached over 800,000 learners to date.

The foundation is also partnering with CcHub to invest in over 72 startups in Nigeria and Kenya, in the next three years.

💰 State of funding in Africa

Through eight deals, cleantech startups raised 10.6% of the total VC funding in Africa last year, according to BD Funding Tracker. At the time, we predicted increased funding for the cleantech sector on the continent due to ongoing conversations about climate change—including the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Egypt in November 2022.

Earlier this year, Catalyst Fund invested $2 million into 10 African cleantech startups. Since then, other funds have disclosed plans to invest in the sector.

More recently, Equator secured $40 million to back cleantech startups on the continent. Although the sector raised only about 2% of the VC funding in Q1 2023, will it increase in the next quarters? We will keep you updated.

Find a roundup of funding raised by African startups last week in the table below:

BD Funding Tracker

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • Lazerpay shuts down: Nigerian crypto and web3 company, Lazerpay shuttered its operations last week, following its inability to raise additional funding.
  • Ex-Chipper VP, Wiza Jalakasi to lead EBANX's African operations: Six months after its expansion into the continent, Brazillian fintech unicorn, EBANX has hired Wiza Jalakasi, the former VP of global merchant payments at Chipper Cash, to lead its African operations.
  • How to work remotely in Colombia with the new digital nomad visa: Colombia has joined countries all across the globe offering digital nomad visas to freelancers, remote workers and entrepreneurs who want to live abroad long-term.
  • Lessons from the biggest cyber breach in South Africa: Experian, an Irish-domiciled global consumer credit reporting company suffered a data breach which exposed the personal data of 24 million South Africans.

💼 Opportunities


We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.

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