BD Insider 226: Ethiopian bank scrambles to recover $40M+ lost in error

Inside: Ethiopia's bank suffers a $40 million technical glitch, Meta's monetisation programme and Nigerian mobile subscribers plummet.

BD Insider 226: Ethiopian bank scrambles to recover $40M+ lost in error
Some students walking in front of a CBE branch.

Millions of Senegalese turned out to vote in yesterday's presidential election, initially slated for Feb. 25 but postponed by President Macky Sall citing irregularities with approved candidates. Bassirou Diomaye Faye leads the polls, with at least five of the 17 candidates congratulating him, although his main rival, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, warns against premature celebrations.

With about 7.3 million registered voters out of an 18 million population, turnout reached about 71%, according to state television RTS, with no major incidents reported.

In related news, Meta has collaborated with South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to prevent its platforms from being misused for misinformation during the upcoming 2024 South African elections.

In this letter, we explore:

  • The Ethiopian bank glitch that resulted in a $40 million loss
  • The recent decline in mobile subscriptions observed in Nigeria
  • Meta's plan to introduce a monetisation programme for Nigerian content creators.

We also have updates on the state of funding in Africa, other noteworthy information, and several opportunities.

The big three!

#1. Ethiopia's bank suffers $40 million technical glitch

The news: On March 16, a technical glitch in Ethiopia's Commercial Bank (CBE) of Ethiopia allowed users, especially students, to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts a weekend ago. The bank identified the issue on March 18, several media reports have estimated losses exceeding $40 million. In a tweet, the bank assured customers that the incident stemmed from a routine mobile system update, not a cyberattack.

What now? Ethiopia's state-owned bank urged customers to return any mistakenly withdrawn or transferred funds by next Saturday. While the official return process remains unclear, reports suggest CBE employees visited some campuses to collect cash from students voluntarily returning funds.

At least three universities have also advised students to return any extra money withdrawn due to the glitch.

In August 2023, a similar glitch happened at the Bank of Ireland. The bank debited users' accounts for the excess amounts to recover the funds. It remains to be seen if CBE will follow suit to recoup its losses from this recent technical glitch.

Abe Sano, president of CBE, Ethiopia's largest bank by assets, said that the losses incurred from the glitch were minimal compared to the bank's overall financial health. The 82-year-old institution has over 38 million account holders.

Zoom out: Last year, CBE signed a $1.3 million contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to improve its digital banking systems, data management, and overall information technology infrastructure.

"We are trying to maintain our position as a pioneer by considering innovation and technologies," said Dahlak Yigezu, CBE’s deputy director for digital banking services.

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#2. Meta is launching a monetisation programme for Nigerian creators

The news: Starting in June 2024, Meta Platforms will allow Nigerian content creators to monetise their content on Facebook and Instagram, Nick Clegg, Meta's president of global affairs, disclosed this during a visit to the Lagos office where he engaged with some of Nigeria's leading creators.

Creators will have access to features like in-stream ads and other tools typically available to creators elsewhere, allowing them to earn a living through their social media presence.

Why it matters: Last year, a petition on implored the social media company to extend its monetisation eligibility to the country. "We believe that Nigerian content creators deserve a chance to earn money from their content on Facebook, just like anyone else. We also believe that Meta should recognize the value and potential of the Nigerian market, which is one of the largest and most vibrant in Africa," Patrick Udeh, who started the petition said.

Clegg agrees, saying: "Nigerian creators have global reach."

"For us in Nigeria, we have a vibrant, gifted and resourceful youth population. Recognising that the future is most likely to be AI-enabled, we have to prepare our youths and make them ready to compete and participate in the global economy," Nigeria's president, Bola Tinubu said while receiving Clegg during a state house visit last week.

#3. Nigerian mobile subscribers plummet as NIN-SIM linkage crackdown bites

What we know: Nigeria's mobile phone industry took a hit in January 2024 with over six million subscriber losses. This sharp decline is attributed to stricter enforcement of linking National Identification Numbers (NIN) to SIM cards.

Following the regulator's directive, telco operators deactivated unregistered SIMs, dropping from 224.4 million active subscriptions in December 2023 to 218 million in January across the four mobile networks of MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile stood at 224.4 million as of December 2023. 

Market share of telco operators in Nigeria

While the enforcement of NIN-SIM linkage caused a nationwide drop in mobile subscriptions in Nigeria, MTN bore the brunt of the decline. Industry data analysis reveals a loss of 7.2 million subscriptions for MTN alone in the month.

πŸ’° State of Funding in Africa

P1 Ventures, a VC firm that invests in early-stage African startups, recently raised $35 million for their second fund. This funding will allow them to grow their teams and open offices in Dakar, Senegal and Nairobi, Kenya.

The VC firm's investments will range from $500,000 to $1.5 million per company.

Meanwhile, here's a breakdown of startups that secured funding last week:

  • Vehicle financing platform Moove secured $100 million in Series B funding led by Uber. Other investors include Mubadala, The Latest Ventures, AfricInvest, Palm Drive Capital, Triatlum Advisors, and Future Africa.
  • Blockchain-powered fintech Zone raised $8.5 million in a seed round led by TLcom Capital and Flourish Ventures.
  • South African BNPL startup Float secured $11 million from Standard Bank.
  • mTek, a Kenyan insurtech startup secured $1.25 million from Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures and Founders Factory Africa.
  • Tunisian AI startup Clusterlab raised $600,000 in pre-seed funding from Karim Beguir and regional angel investors.
  • Egyptian healthtech platform Pharmacy Marts secured an undisclosed six-figure bridge round from Acasia Ventures.

πŸ“š Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • Paystack alumni are building: From fintech to on-demand food delivery, former employees at Paystack have founded at least fourteen African startups.
  • Uber and Lagos at odds: Nigeria's tech city Lagos is cracking down on global ride-hailing leader Uber for non-compliance with its data-sharing policy.
  • Ghana is walking back its Starlink restriction: Three months after restricting the local use of Elon Musk's satellite internet platform, Ghana now looks to loosen its choke-hold on the service in a move to create alternative connectivity for internet users.
  • Africa's 5G pioneer hits over $1 billion valuation: South African mobile network operator, Rain, has released its interim results for the six months that ended in December 2023. The statement shows that the service is now worth over R23 billion (a little over $1 billion).

πŸ’Ό Opportunities


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

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

Other opportunities

  • For entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Niger & Burkina Faso: The HiiL Justice Accelerator provides startups with a four-month program that includes €10,000 in non-equity seed funding, business development support (training, coaching, and mentorship), access to a global network, international exposure, and connections for further investment opportunities. 
  • Internship for women: Moniepoint has launched this year’s edition of the Women-In-Tech initiative. It is a six-month internship across various teams, including engineering, and data at the fintech.
  • Become a VC investor: Applications are open for the Dream VC 2024 Venture Capital Fellowship. The deadline is on April 14.

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