BD Insider, Letter 149: Chaos in Nigeria as citizens scramble for new notes
In Letter 149, we examine the cash shortage in Nigeria, Starlink's Rwandan launch and Yango's woes in Cameroon.
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In this letter, we examine:
- Starlink's intended launch in Rwanda this quarter
- Nigeria's capacity to print new Naira notes
- why Cameroonian authorities suspended the operations of Russian ride-hailing company, Yango
and other noteworthy information like:
- the latest African tech startup deal
- opportunities, interesting reads and more
The big three!
Elon Musk's Starlink receives an operational licence in Rwanda
The news: The Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) has issued an operational licence to Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service. The company will begin its operations in the country before the end of Q1 2023.
Rwanda is the fourth country in Africa to issue a license to Starlink after Mozambique, Nigeria and Malawi.
Why it matters: The licensing agreement will allow Starlink to offer internet service to Rwanda residents through its network of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, delivering higher speed and lower latency broadband internet, compared to traditional satellite communication. As of December 2022, Starlink had over 3,500 satellites operating in LEO.
"We are confident that the high speed and low latency of the service will greatly benefit both citizens and businesses," Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, said.
According to Ms Ingabire, Starlink's monthly subscription in the country will cost between Rwf20,000 to Rwf30,000 (that is, $18.45 to $27.67). However, the cost of the hardware device was not indicated.
"When you look at the cost, based on the output that is a half or a third of the capacity that Starlink provides, you realise that its cost is very low than the available products," she added.
Zoom in: Prior to licensing, Rwanda was among a few countries given the opportunity to test Starlink connectivity in Africa. In tests conducted at different points of the country, Starlink's speed reached up to 150 Mbps with a very low latency of 20 to 40 milliseconds.
According to the RSA, the Starlink technology will boost internet access in remote and rural areas where traditional wireless, cable and fibre-optic infrastructure is difficult to deploy.
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Nigeria has the capacity to print more Naira notes
The news: Last week, some media reports alleged that Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria told the National Council of State that the country does not have the capacity to print adequate new Naira notes. The CBN on Friday (Feb. 10, 2023) debunked this allegation.
"We wish to state categorically that at no time did the CBN Governor disclose this during his presentation to the National Council of State," Osita Nwanisobi, CBN's Director of Corporate Communications, said in a statement seen by Benjamindada.com. "We also wish to restate that the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) has the capacity and enough materials to produce the required indent of the Naira."
Why it matters: The ongoing demonetisation process in the country has been faced with cash shortages and opposition from political parties and some civil society organisations. Last week, the nation's Supreme Court temporarily halted the process following a lawsuit by three governors from Northern Nigeria challenging the Naira redesign.
The Federal government has since filed an objection to the court's ruling.
Despite the Supreme Court order, some businesses and individuals across the country have started rejecting the old Naira notes.
Zoom out: Weighing in on the issue, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) encouraged the CBN to postpone the currency swap process "in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new banknotes available to the public".
The ongoing chaos in Nigeria can be likened to the situation in India after Prime Minister, Narendra Modi outlawed 86% of the nation's cash in 2016.
Russian ride-hailing company, Yango suspended in Cameroon
The news: The Cameroonian transport authority has suspended Yango, a ride-hailing company operating in the country for failure to comply with regulations. Yango is owned by Russian tech giant Yandex.
"Activities of public transport operated via the Yango digital platform are suspended until they are brought up to standard," Cameroon's Transport Minister, Ngalle Bibehe Jean Ernest Massena said in a statement last week.
Despite this suspension which has been backed by Cameroon's union of taxi drivers, the Russian ride-hailing company said that only the activities of service providers using its platform were affected by a government decision.
"The suspension letter is addressed to the partners of Yango, who are local transportation services providers using Yango Digital Platform, and it states that they should obtain additional licenses to work with the digital platform," a Yango spokesman told Reuters. "We at Yango were surprised by this ministry of transport decision and consider it a result of misinterpretation of the business model we bring to Cameroon."
As of yesterday (Feb. 12, 2022), Yango's app was still active in the country, a Yaoundé-based user confirmed to Benjamindada.com.
Zoom out: In Nigeria, the Lagos state government in May 2022 announced that inDriver and Rida are “unlicensed” to operate in the state. Two months after the announcement, inDriver's Business Development Manager in Africa, Evgeny Kalinin said that the company is engaging with Lagos authorities to ensure compliance with local regulatory requirements.
💰 State of funding in Africa
Last week saw the first close of the largest VC fund in Africa. Partech Africa II reached an oversubscribed first close at $262 million, the fund is targeting not more than $300 million for its final close.
Amidst the global economic downturn which has led to a decrease in venture capital, this fund will be a booster to the African startup ecosystem. Partech Africa II will invest in over 20 Series A and B companies operating in fintech, healthtech, logistics, mobility and edtech, providing $1 million to $15 million in initial tickets.
Meanwhile, the table below details how African startups raised over $30.30 million in venture capital last week.
Here are other important stories in the media:
- Inside the card fraud that claimed $4M from Safaricom: Kenya's leading telco, Safaricom lost over $4 million in SIM card fraud on its lending platform, Fuliza loans in 2022. Suspects have been arrested by the Kenyan authorities.
- How to incorporate a startup in the US as a Non-citizen: A guide through the process of incorporating a business in the US. From determining the type of business entity, and filing the required documents to opening a US-based bank account.
- Hytch shuts down following failed fundraising attempt: Nigerian logistics startup, Hytch has shut down barely nine months after it commenced operations with a ride-hailing offering, then fulfilment.
- Zinox Technologies will supply digital assistants for Nigeria's 2023 census: The Federal Government of Nigeria has awarded an ₦85 billion contract to Zinox Technologies to supply digital assistants for the 2023 national census.
- Flutterwave expands into North Africa: The Nigerian-founded fintech company last week announced that it has obtained payment services provider and payments facilitator licenses from the National Bank of Egypt.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Brass — Brand Designer and Motion Designer
- Flutterwave — Product Manager, Kenya
- Paystack — Product Specialist, Ghana
Data & Engineering
- Stitch — Fullstack Engineer, South Africa
- Chipper Cash — Senior Product Engineer
- Sendwave — Senior iOS Engineer
Admin & Growth
- Bolt Foods — Head of Sales, South Africa
- Jiji — Social Media Manger, Lagos
- Visa — Marketing and Comms Director