BD Insider, Letter 135

In letter 135, we examine CBN and NIBSS's plan to launch a national domestic card scheme in 2023, Nigerian startups' dominance at the Techstars Toronto 2022 T5 cohort.

BD Insider, Letter 135
Safaricom CEO, Peter Ndegwa

Last week, foreign diplomatic missions in Nigeria, including the US, UK and Australia, issued alerts over heightened risks of terror attacks in Abuja, the country's capital city.

The alerts warned of possible attacks on public places including government buildings, shopping malls, hotels, and transport terminals. Responding to the travel advisory from the foreign diplomats, Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari said that an attack in Abuja is not imminent, he advised residents to be vigilant and not to panic.

For letter 135, we will examine:

  • CBN and NIBSS's plan to launch a national domestic card scheme in 2023
  • Nigerian startups' dominance at the Techstars Toronto 2022 T5 cohort
  • Kenya's first 5G network launched by Safaricom

and other noteworthy information like:

  • the latest African Tech Startup Deals
  • opportunities, interesting reads and more
The Bird is not free! Twitter is planning to charge $20 per month for verification on its Twitter Blue product. Per Verge, if the employees building it do not meet their deadline, they will be fired by Elon Musk—Twitter's new owner.

The Big Three!

#1. CBN and NIBSS to launch a national domestic card scheme in 2023

The news: The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) will launch Nigeria's national domestic card scheme in January 2023.

"Considering the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payments system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme," CBN spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, said.

Why it matters: In 2021, the annual value of card transactions in the Nigeria cards and payments market was $18.2 billion. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 18% during the forecast period.

Currently, Visa, Mastercard, and Verve by Interswitch are the three card payment providers of financial institutions in Nigeria.

Nigeria will join a growing list of countries—India, Turkey, China, and Brazil as leading examples—who have launched successful domestic card schemes and harnessed the transformative benefits to their payments and financial systems, particularly for the underbanked.

With an aspiration to launch Africa's first central bank-driven, domestic card scheme that combines a fully domestic infrastructure with international interoperability, the CBN is building a card system similar to India's RuPay which was launched in 2012 by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

RuPay had 60% of the card market share in India as of 2020, up from 15% in 2017, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

Zoom in: Weighing the ups and downs of the proposed card scheme, Kabir Shittu, the COO of Sudo Africa—a Nigerian fintech that provides a card-issuing API for developers and businesses—told that "Interswitch is already doing what the [national] card is going to achieve with Verve. Adoption however will be easy as CBN might ask everyone to come on board as they did with eNaira."

Shittu added that the Nigerian cards market needs more competition. "Interswitch is like 'god' in the Nigeria card business and billing to financial institutions is ridiculous," he said.

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#2. Nigerian startups dominate Techstars Toronto 2022 T5 cohort

The news: Out of the 12 startups selected for the Techstars Toronto 2022 T5 cohort, six are Nigerian tech startups, according to the global accelerator's directory.

Why it matters: Aside from dominating the overall list, Nigeria is the only African country that will be participating in this cohort.

Three of the 12 selected startups are from the U.S, two are from Canada and one is from France. 

Since its first African investment in 2015, Techstars has backed over 50 African startups—operating mostly in fintech, logistics, agritech and healthtech—through its various accelerators. Available data suggest that aside from the Techstars Barclays Accelerator (that was held in Cape Town), more African startups are accepted into Techstars Toronto and New York.

Techstars CEO, Maëlle Gavet previously stated that Canada has a more welcoming visa system for Africans compared to the other locations where the accelerator holds. "I think Canada has a very welcoming visa system for African founders. So it just makes it much easier for them to go to the Toronto program than it would be to many other Western programs," she said.

Over 48% of Techstars' investment in Africa has been targeted toward Nigerian startups. 

Meet the latest African Techstars:

  • Fez Delivery (Logistics): Founded by Bethany Buer, Oluwafemi Jose and Seun Alley, Fez Delivery offers core end-to-end support to individuals and businesses for their last-mile deliveries across Nigeria and other parts of West Africa and East Africa.
  • Renda (Logistics): The company provides a logistics infrastructure that enables and empowers e-commerce businesses to process a large volume of orders across Africa. Renda was founded by Abimbola Onaboye and Opeoluwa Onaboye.
  • GIGXPAD (Fintech): The Nigerian startup is a full-service digital asset and cross-border payment platform that focuses on simplifying the process of saving, investing and spending digital assets. GIGXPAD was founded by Chukwudi Anyanwuocha, Godswill Omozusi and Osamede Arhunmwunde.
  • Raenest (Fintech): Founded by Richard Oyome, Sodruldeen Mustapha and Victor Alade, Raenest is a recruiting and payroll platform that enables African startups to integrate remote contractors and workers.
  • Glover Technologies (e-commerce): Founded in 2021 by Damilola Layode and Fejiro Agbodje, Glover Technologies is a gift card and digital assets marketplace. The company was introduced by Patricia Technologies as a means to oversee the non-crypto services of the business.
  • Klas (Edtech): Launched in 2021, "Klas is a platform that allows anyone to start an online school and deliver live lessons. Think of Klas as Shopify for online teaching,” Nathan Nwachuku, Klas co-founder and CEO told in March after the Nigerian edtech company secured $130,000 in an angel round.

#3. Safaricom becomes the first telco to launch 5G in Kenya

The news: Last Thursday (October 27, 2022), Safaricom announced the commercial launch of its 5G network in Kenya—becoming the first telco to launch the network in the country.

Currently, Safaricom has 35 active 5G sites spread across Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega and Mombasa, and it plans to expand to 200 sites across the country by March 2023.

How it will work: Customers in 5G-active zones can access 5G Wi-Fi by purchasing a 5G router at KES 25,000 (~$206) plus a setup fee of KES 5,000 ($41) and selecting from the available packages. Safaricom customers will also have the option of signing up for a 36-month contract that will enable them to receive the router for free.

Safaricom introductory 5G Wi-Fi plans. 

Since its launch, Safaricom has consistently invested in its network, with its 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G in aggregate covering over 99% of Kenya’s population, while its fibre network has connected more than 200,000 homes to fast and reliable internet.

Zoom out: Recently in Ethiopia, state-owned telecom operator, Ethio Telecom became the first to launch the 5G mobile network. Safaricom recently expanded into Ethiopia and has since rolled out its 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services across 11 Ethiopian cities, including the capital and the country's second-largest city Dire Dawa.

In Nigeria, MTN Nigeria became the first telco to roll out the 5G network. Another telco in the country, Mafab is expected to launch another 5G network in December 2022.  

📊 Insights about Africa

Last week, Spotify announced a $100K investment into 13 African podcasts—from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana—through its Africa Podcast Fund.

These selected podcasts includes; Nigeria's I Said What I Said, Tea With Tay, F&S Uncensored and The Sandwich Podcast, The Messy Inbetween, and Nipe Story from Kenya.

According to a report by Africa Podfest, Spotify is the most preferred podcast listening platform in Africa. The infographic provides insights into where Africans listen to podcasts.

35.1% of podcast listeners in Africa use Spotify

💰 State of funding in Africa

Startups from Egypt dominated the African startup deals last week raising over $2.90 million. The table below provides more insights.

African startup deals from October 24 - 30, 2022.

Get free access to our carefully-curated, real-time updated Funding Database for 2022.

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

💼 Opportunities


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

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

Other opportunities

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