BD Insider 219: No, the CBN is not converting domiciliary accounts to Naira

Inside: We explore WhatsApp banking in Uganda and the latest public cloud region in Kenya.

BD Insider 219: No, the CBN is not converting domiciliary accounts to Naira
Naira x Dollars

Our inaugural report on the state of VC Funding in Africa is out! 🎉

African startups raised $2 billion in equity funding across 263 deals in 2023, marking a 43% decline from the $3.3 billion raised in 2022, according to the BD Funding Tracker. Additionally, the number of deals also dropped by 46%.

This figure excludes about $1.2 billion that startups raised via debt.

The Big Four markets—Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa–retained their position as top tech investment destinations in Africa, securing 88% of the total equity funding amount last year.

Our report explored the trends across sectors and markets on the continent.

In today's letter, we explored:

  • CBN's stance on alleged domiciliary account conversion to Naira
  • The introduction of WhatsApp banking in Uganda
  • And other noteworthy information like: the latest African Tech Startup Deals + opportunities, interesting reads, and more.

The big three!

#1. No, the CBN is not converting domiciliary accounts to Naira

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) isn't pulling off a 'wedding at Cana' miracle by turning your dollars into Naira.

The news: On Saturday, Sidi-Ali Hakama, the spokesperson for the CBN, refuted rumours alleging that the institution is considering converting $30 billion domiciliary deposits into Naira.

"This allegation is absolutely false and aims to trigger panic in the foreign exchange market, which the CBN is working assiduously to stabilize, as evidenced by its recent work and policy directions," said Hakama.

The CBN, amidst the ongoing devaluation of the Naira, has been actively deploying policies to enhance liquidity in the foreign exchange market. Recently, it mandated all banks to sell their surplus foreign exchange holdings within 24 hours or risk facing sanctions. Furthermore, the bank revised regulations for international money transfer operators (IMTOs), setting a new minimum operating capital of $1 million for foreign IMTOs and its equivalent in Naira for local operators.

"We would never do anything to undermine the currency and the economy," Hakama added.

Insights: According to Ndubuisi Ekekwe, chairman of Tekedia Capital, "There is no basis to convert USD to Naira and no government can do that. If that should happen, Nigeria will become like Zimbabwe. Even if you convert USD to Naira, that does not solve the problem since most of these dollars are not in Nigerian bank vaults."

Zoom out: Later this month, the CBN will hold its first monetary policy meeting with Olayemi Cardoso, the bank's governor, making his debut. During the meeting, members will review economic conditions to set short-medium-term policy stances and communicate decisions to maintain transparency and credibility in monetary policy transmission.

#2. Ugandan bank launches WhatsApp banking service

The news: Centenary Bank, a commercial bank headquartered in Kampala, has launched CenteWhatsApp Banking, an online platform enabling users to access banking services such as transfers, credit [up to UGX 5 million ($1,307.76)], checking account balances and bill payments via WhatsApp.

How it works: To access the platform, bank customers will first save the bank’s verified WhatsApp number, 0744 200 555, in their phone contacts.

Afterwards, they initiate a chat on WhatsApp and follow the prompts on the menu to complete transactions. The customer will provide a One Time PIN (OTP) sent to the customer's registered phone number before they can carry out transactions.

Zoom in: Uganda's current estimated population is 49.9 million, with 2.05 million social media users, making up 4.3% of the total population. With internet penetration at 24.6% and a majority of the population still unbanked, Centenary Bank's WhatsApp banking service is an experiment to explore how social media can drive financial inclusion.

However, as the bank conducts its experiment, fraudsters are also stepping up their efforts. According to Wiza Jalakasi, director of Africa market development at Ebanx, "Fraudsters are closely monitoring developments in fintech... Fraud losses may begin as soon as you launch your product, and the sooner you can counter it, the better."

Since the launch of CenteWhatsApp Banking, fraudsters have begun impersonating the bank, highlighting the importance of proactive measures against fraud.

#3. Oracle wants to launch a public cloud region in Kenya

The scene: More clouds huddle up across Africa. ☁

Just as Google announced the launch of its first African cloud region in South Africa, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) disclosed its plan to open a public cloud region in Nairobi, Kenya. OCI, like Google, launched its first African region in South Africa in 2022.

President Ruto of Kenya and officials from OCI

Why it matters: Oracle Cloud regions offer support for all Oracle services and features, accessible to customers globally. This includes the Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite.

In addition, OCI and Microsoft Azure have a strategic partnership that enables joint customers to run workloads across the two clouds.

Know more: Eliud Owalo, Kenyan ICT minister said: "Oracle’s intent to open a public cloud region in Nairobi will be a key component of Kenya's Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda initiative, which is focused on digital transformation, private sector development, agricultural transformation, housing development, and healthcare modernisation."

"OCI is leveraged by governments and companies across the world as a scalable and secure platform for mission-critical workloads on which to drive innovation and transformation," according to Scott Twaddle, senior vice president at OCI. "We already have a strong business in Kenya, and the upcoming public cloud region in Nairobi represents a significant next step forward in helping support the country’s economic goals."

💰 State of Funding in Africa

Three months after its launch, Sony Innovation Fund: Africa, a $10 million fund has made its first investment in Carry1st, a leading African game publisher. Although the investment remains undisclosed, the fund cheque sizes are expected to range between $250,000 to $1 million.

Other African startups that raised funding last week include:

  • Apollo Agriculture raised $10 million in debt funding from Swedfund and ImpactConnect. The funding will enable the agritech to expand across Kenya, its primary market.
  • Egyptian logistics startup, Roboosts has secured $3 million in a funding round led by Silicon Badia, with participation from RZM Investment, Flat6Labs, and Saudi Angel Investors.
  • InspiraFarms Cooling, a Kenyan-based cleantech startup, secured $1.09 million from the Foundation for Clean Energy and Energy Inclusion for Africa (CEI Africa), KawiSafi, and Factor[e]. 
  • Senegalese retail-tech startup ProXalys raised a $500,000 funding round led by 216 Capital, a Tunisia-based seed fund. Haskè Ventures and Digital Africa also participated in the round.
  • Egypt-based logistics startup Bosta has raised an undisclosed amount in investment led by Avanz Capital Egypt (ACE).

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • Regulating crypto in Nigeria: In an exclusive with, Lasberry Chioma Oludimu, chief data protection officer at Yellow Card, shares a bird’s-eye view on the state of regulation in Africa’s largest crypto market
  • Canal+'s African dominance move: Canal+ has put forward a non-binding offer to purchase MultiChoice. If the deal goes through, the French TV company will increase its dominance across the continent.
  • Bboxx moves HQ to Rwanda: As part of the relocation, Bboxx plans to invest $100 million into the East African country and train some 500 Rwandans in the next five years, Andrew Christian reports.
  • Three startups at YC 2024 winter batch: Only three African startups have been selected for the 2024 winter batch of Y Combinator. Two of the startups have been publicly disclosed; Cleva and Miden (by Tyrus Technologies). An insider source told that a Kenyan traveltech is also in the batch.
  • Demo day at Techstars Lagos: On February 20, ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator will host its latest cohort of 12 startups from Ghana, Nigeria, and East Africa to a demo day in Lagos.

💼 Opportunities


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

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

Have a great week!

Please reply to this email and let us know your thoughts about our letters.

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa

Join Us On Telegram