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BD Insider 187: Inside Project Kuiper, another Starlink competitor in Africa

Itana (formerly Talent City) has secured $2 million pre-seed. We covered this and the planned launch of Project Kuiper satellite internet service, a competitor to Starlink in Africa.

BD Insider 187: Inside Project Kuiper, another Starlink competitor in Africa

In today's newsletter, we bring you news about:

  • Itana's plan to build “Africa’s first digital free zone”
  • Vodafone and Amazon partnership to provide satellite-enabled internet

📰 The Midweek Brief

#1. Itana (formerly Talent City) secures $2 million pre-seed

The news: Itana, formerly known as Talent City, has raised $2 million from LocalGlobe, Pronomos Capital, and Future Africa, to build what it describes as “Africa’s first digital free zone”.

“The African market is still largely untapped and Itana will provide the ideal business environment that will be fully online, for global and pan-African digital and service companies to use Nigeria as an anchorage to operate with ease across the continent,” says Luqman Edu, CEO of Itana.

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Itana is derived from ‘Itanna’, a Yoruba word which means ‘kindling of a fire’ or ‘to blossom’. 

Why it matters: Itana seeks to provide an online jurisdiction similar to cities like Delaware, e-Estonia, or Dubai that allows global companies to remotely incorporate and operate in a free zone without a physical presence in one.

“Within the Itana digital free zone startups will have the benefit of a stable policy environment, tax and capital repatriation incentives, and the freedom to operate remotely without the need for an expansive physical presence within the free zone. I’m looking forward to the global businesses from Nigeria that will emerge from this,” Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a founding investor at Itana, added.

Know more: The Itana community will also have access to their forthcoming flagship 72,000 sqm “live-work-build” campus, Itana District, sustainably designed within Alaro City (in Lekki Free Zone, just outside of Nigeria's commercial city, Lagos), where they will host both permanent residents and visitors from the digital community for networking events, coworking, coliving, and more.

The first phase of its development is set for completion by 2027.


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The news: Vodafone has partnered with Amazon's Project Kuiper, a low earth orbit satellite constellation, to provide 4G/5G services to underserved communities in Africa.

Know more: Project Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to the companies’ core telecom networks. This means Vodafone and Vodacom will be able to offer 4G/5G services in more locations without the time and expense of building out fibre-based or fixed wireless links back to the core networks.

“Vodafone’s work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the estimated 40% of the global population without internet access, supporting remote communities, their schools and businesses, the emergency services, and disaster relief. These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services,” Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, said.

Zoom out: In July, Safaricom disclosed its plan to launch a satellite internet service to compete with Starlink. The telco says it is partnering with US-based AST SpaceMobile to launch the service. Vodafone is also one of the investors in AST SpaceMobile, setting the stage for this collaboration.


💼 Opportunities

  • AWS Startups Builds Accelerator: Pre-MVP founders can apply for the AWS Startup Builds Accelerator 2023 before September 22, to get needed training and support to launch.
  • For African founders: A Founders Factory Africa initiative for idea-stage founders. Participants will receive a monthly stipend, an experimentation budget, and access to experts to help them test and launch their ideas. Apply here.
  • For research and data experts: OCCRP is seeking applications for its new 8-week hybrid Research & Data Fellowship. Between 6-8 fellows will be selected to learn about OSINT, research, & data. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis till September 29. Apply here

🗞️ In case you missed it

  • AltSchool launched schools for businesses and creators: Following a 40% success rate in its tech schools of product, data, and engineering, AltSchool is now launching two new schools for Business and the creator economy
  • Wasoko entered DRC: The Eastern African e-commerce company has launched cross-border operations into the Democratic Republic of Congo via its hub in Rwanda, marking its second expansion within 6 months.
  • Anchor raised $2.3 million: Pan-African Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) provider, Anchor, raised a $2.4 million seed round to launch new products, invest in its licensing and compliance infrastructure, and evaluate expansion markets.
  • BTrust acquired Qala: Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z backed Btrust has acquired Qala, a Bitcoin talent development platform for an undisclosed sum. Following the acquisition, Qala has now been renamed to Btrust Builders.
  • Catalyst fund closed the first round of $40m fund: Pre-seed VC and accelerator, Catalyst fund has closed the first round of its $40 million fund, raising $8.6 million which will be invested in African cleantech startups.

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