We want to start today’s letter by apologising for an email that was erroneously sent to you yesterday. Please disregard the email. You can read the latest updates on how much African startups raised in July on our site.
Next, in the spirit of newsletters, we understand that a once a week cadence might make some news stale. Thereby, delaying the pace at which you work with the information we curate and share. So, we are rolling out two newsletter editions this week! pauses for a round of applause 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿
More information on this to come. Thank you for trusting us for your news on tech in Africa. We don't take it lightly.
In today's letter, we cover:
- the suspension of TikTok in Senegal
- Kenya’s first virtual university
- the latest Henley Passport Index ranking
And other noteworthy information like:
- the latest African tech startup deals
- opportunities, interesting reads and more
The big three!
#1. Senegal blocks TikTok amid clampdown on dissent
The news: Last week, the Senegalese government suspended access to TikTok as part of its clampdown on dissent which has led to dissolution of the main opposition party in the country and the detention of its leader who has since been charged for plotting an alleged insurrection.
“The TikTok application is the social network of choice for ill-intentioned people to spread hateful and subversive messages threatening the stability of the country,” according to Moussa Bocar Thiam, the country's minister of communications and the digital economy.
Recall that Senegal shutdown its internet last week to “prevent disturbances” following the arrest of opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko. The same thing was done in June when the government arrested Sonko.
Zoom in: “Today, billions of people are subjected to internet restrictions, which continue to increase at an alarming rate,” says Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokesperson.
In the first half of this year, 42 internet disruptions were recorded globally, nine of which were recorded in Africa across six countries including Senegal. Last year, one in four Africans were affected by internet shutdowns.
“Internet restrictions often happen in times of political unrest, such as protests, controversial elections, or even military action—which is when people need to be connected to one another the most,” Racaityte-Krasauske added.
The implication: Human right groups and Senegalese residents have condemned the move citing that the social media platform enables access to educative content and business transactions.
“Taking the decision to cut off the internet means prohibiting us from selling,” Papis Gaye, a social media vendor in the country, told Reuters. “I’d have to try the VPN, just to be able to connect, but it’s a pain. In the end, you’re tired and discouraged.”
#2. Kenya launches its first virtual open university
The news: Kenyan president Williams Ruto on Thursday issued a charter to the Open University of Kenya (OUK), making it the “first virtual and open university” in the country.
Before now, past administration in the country have tried to set open an open university from former presidents Mwai Kibaki in 2010 and Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014 but the plans fell short due to paucity of funds, according to local reports.
Why it matters: “The awarding of the charter to the OUK will be of benefit to the advancement of University Education in Kenya,” Ruto said. He said that the tuition at the university will be half of is paid at conventional universities in Kenya.
President Ruto has also appointed James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Group, as the inaugural Chancellor of the university. “I was very specific [about] who the chancellor should be, and that is because this is a very important institution. This is a bottom-up institution. It is going to give opportunities to very ordinary people; people from remote places who ordinarily would not afford university education,” he said.
Know more: OUK is currently operating four tech and business focused schools, which are offering eight courses including; data science, cyber security, technology education, learning design, business and entrepreneurship, economics and statistics, leadership and accountability; and agritechnology and food systems.
It will enroll the first batch of students for the academic year commencing September. The virtual university will operate from Konza Technopolis—previously called Konza Technology City, a large technology hub planned by the Kenyan government.
#3. UK passport, a better pair for Nigerians than US & Canada
The scene: Although Nigerians are more likely to emigrate to Canada, new data from Henley Passport Index reveals that the UK passport is better for Nigerians than US or Canadian passports, as of Q3 2023.
By working with data from IATA—the largest travel information database, Henley and Partners—a global residence and citizenship advisory firm—have consistently ranked, for 18 years, the world’s passports "according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa". They call this ranking the Henley Passport Index (HPI).
Updated quarterly, the index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. The Q3 2023 HPI report ranks each of those 199 countries and ends up with a list of 104 positions, meaning that more than one country can fit into a rank—if they have the same number of visa-free access.
Disadvantaged? Per the Q3 2023 HPI ranking, Nigerian passport holders can only access 20% of all potential destinations. That is, 46 visa-free destinations (out of 227).
Today, the Nigerian passport ranks in the bottom 12.5% (position 91 out of 104).
For additional context, Egypt, a North African contemporary, ranks 84th and can access 54 visa-free destinations. Fellow West African country—Ghana ranks 76th and can access 65 visa-free destinations. Kenya, the East African comparable, ranks 68th and can access 76 visa-free destinations, while South Africa—a key commercial hub in SSA ranks 52nd and can access 106 visa-free destinations.
We already know the way out for Nigerian descents, a second powerful passport. But of the bunch, which passport is best for Nigerians?
💰 State of Funding in Africa
Last week, South African venture capital firm, REdimension announced that it raised over $10 million for its proptech fund. In the coming months, REdimension say that it will invest in African companies that are “developing high-impact solutions that operate at the convergence of real estate and technology”.
Meanwhile, despite the launch of venture funds like the REdimension's, investors are still taking the tight-fisted approach. In July, VC funding in Africa declined by 46.5% YoY, according to BD Funding Tracker.
Here's how African startups raised in the first week of August.
Here are other important stories in the media:
- Big Cabal Media cuts workforce: Pan-African media company Big Cabal Media has downsized its workforce by 19%. The company intends to double down on its tech media publication and data analytics arm.
- Will Africa produce the next DoorDash for Y Combinator? Between last year and now, Y Combinator has invested in six African food delivery startups; deepening its investment in the sector.
- How African startups can leverage mergers and acquisitions: The funding reset hit African startups hard. Now, M&A offers a lifeline. Strategic acquisitions are providing access to capital, resources, talent and new markets, but regulators may be the snag, Levi Cee reports.
- Tinubu nominates CcHUB CEO for ministerial role: Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has nominated CcHUB co-founder and CEO 'Bosun Tijani for a yet-to-be disclosed ministerial role in his administration.
- Experts advocate for ethical use of artificial intelligence in African newsrooms: Two weeks ago, Johnstone attended the West Africa Journalism Innovation Conference, he writes on how newsrooms on the continent can leverage artificial intelligence.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Kuda — Senior Product Manager, Lagos
- Jumia — Head of UX and Product Design, Lagos
- Sun King — Motion Graphics Intern, Lagos
Data & Engineering
- Fincra — Software Engineer, Lagos
- Monzo — Senior Data Scientist, London
- Raenest — Frontend Engineer, Remote
Admin & Growth
- Glovo — Head of Strategy and Finance, Lagos
- WHO — Communications Manager, Maiduguri
- Bolt — Sales Team Lead, Lagos
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