BD Insider 194: Kenya gets more funding to drive e-mobility

Kenya gets more funding to drive e-mobility. We also covered the latest about BioNTech's vaccine factories in Africa and the landing of 2Africa in DRC.

BD Insider 194: Kenya gets more funding to drive e-mobility
Kenya's President, William Ruto

The Nigerian government says it plans to collaborate with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to stimulate startup listings. “We want to prioritise the ability of our technology companies to export products and we are targeting Africa first and then eventually start selling to the rest of the world,” says 'Bosun Tijani, Nigeria's minister of communications, innovation, and digital economy.

In 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the rules for listing on NGX’s Technology Board. However, startups with Nigeria—and Africa—as their primary market are considering going public on foreign exchanges like NASDAQ; where President Bola Tinubu rang the closing bell last week.

“We will continue to do a lot of work that makes us able to attract local capital and the tech startups come to the exchange, we are confident that there would be a very good audience of investors that would want to own a bit of their shares,” Temi Popoola, NGX's CEO said at a tech event on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, with Olugbenga Agboola, CEO of Flutterwave, in attendance. Agboola's company has been planning to go public on NASDAQ.


In today's letter, we will also explore:

  • the latest about BioNTech's vaccine factories in Africa
  • Kenya's e-mobility adoption efforts
  • 2Africa submarine cable in the Democratic Republic of Congo

And other noteworthy information like:

  • the latest African Tech Startup Deals
  • book recommendation, opportunities, interesting reads, and more

The big three

#1. BioNTech to halt South Africa-based vaccine facility plans

The news: Last year at the foundation laying ceremony BioNTech vaccine facility in Rwanda, the German biotech company disclosed that it would “set up additional factories in Senegal and South Africa”.

However, a Bloomberg report disclosed that BioNTech is halting its plans to build a South African factory. It will also “downscale its Senegal plant to a smaller-scale manufacturing site or possibly an R&D center,” the report added. “Plans for a manufacturing facility in South Africa haven’t moved forward in six months, and there has been no communication with potential local partners since late March,” an undisclosed source who is familiar with the issue told Bloomberg.

BioNTech maintains that its “goal of helping to democratise access to innovative medicines remains unchanged.” 

Why it matters: In 2022, BioNTech, which is the biopharmaceutical company that co-developed the first approved mRNA-based vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine), disclosed that the factories will “be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines targeted to the needs of the African Union member states, which could conceivably include the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and BioNTech’s investigational malaria and tuberculosis vaccines”.

With this revised plan, production and distribution of BioNTech-produced vaccines is likely going to be slow.

BioNTainer: A platform for localised and sustainable mRNA production
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The German biotech company shipped the first BioNTainer for its Rwandan-based mRNA manufacturing facility in March this year. According to a statement seen by Bendada.com, the Rwanda facility is expected to become “the first node in a decentralised and robust end-to-end manufacturing network in Africa”.

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#2. Kenya signs $60 million deal with US aid agency to drive urban mobility

The news: Kenya is not slowing down on its e-mobility plans. On Wednesday, Kenya's President William Ruto signed a $60 million deal with US foreign aid agency, Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for the acquisition of electric buses to ease traffic congestion in the Nairobi Metro Area.

Why it matters: The deal which is dubbed “The Kenya Urban Mobility and Growth Threshold Program,” will address the following; Integrated Transport Planning Project, the First and Last Mile Connections Project, the Detailed Land Use Project, and the Blended Finance for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project.

“This planned investment will strengthen our transport and land sectors and will generate benefits for the people of Nairobi, as well as for all Kenyans,” says Njuguna Ndung’u, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Economic Planning of Kenya.

Zoom in e-mobility: “The Blended Finance for BRT Project aims to catalyse private financing to support the acquisition of electric (or other low emissions) buses to operate one or more lines of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, currently being prepared for the Nairobi metropolitan area,” according to a statement on MCC's website. This will cost $12 million of the total amount.

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There are over 1,350 electric-powered vehicles on Kenyan roads as of February 2023

Know more: In April, the European Union approved a $378 million financing for Kenya to boost the country’s Bus Rapid Transport System which will only be run by electric vehicles. According to Kenya's president William Ruto, “The adoption of electric mobility is a high-priority intervention to address the challenges of pollution, adverse health effects, and fuel costs which raise the cost of living.” Ruto launched Kenya's national e-mobility programme earlier this month.

Private sector players are already pioneering the e-mobility movement:

Last week, Swedish-Kenyan EV startup, Roam (formerly Opibus) launched The Roam Move, Kenya's first locally manufactured electric bus

In 2022, BasiGo, a Kenyan cleantech startup raised a $4.3 million seed to kick off an Electric Vehicles (EV) assembly plant in Nairobi and to launch the sales and delivery of its electric buses. By 2027, BasiGo says it intends to deploy over 1,000 mass transit electric buses to transport operators in Nairobi.


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#3. 2Africa submarine cable lands in DRC

The news: Meta (formerly Facebook) and the 2Africa consortium has laid the 2Africa cable in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), off Muanda in the Kongo-Central province.

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The 2Africa consortium is made up of telecom operators China Mobile International, Bayobab (formerly MTN Global Connect), Orange, center3 (formerly stc), Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC.

The arrival of 2Africa cable in Muanda follows successful African landings earlier this year in Port Said in Egypt; Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo; and Nacala, Mozambique.

Why it matters: This submarine cable will connect more than three billion people across three continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), offering an economic potential that should ultimately boost data transfer and develop business opportunities in the DRC and throughout Africa.

“Service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis at 2Africa landings,” according to a statement on 2Africa website.


💰 State of Funding in Africa

Flapmax, a leading data, and AI technology company has selected 12 African startups for the second cohort of the FAST Accelerator startup program, created in partnership with Microsoft to help strengthen and scale Africa's digital ecosystem.

Out of the 12 startups in the cohort, nine are Nigerian, and one each from Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana. Also, fintech startups dominated the cohort.

The sector also took the lead in the total value and number of venture capital investments from last week. Find a summary below.

Source: BD Funding Tracker

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • Safaricom faces court challenge over M-PESA trade secrets: Safaricom is currently embroiled in a legal battle over an alleged intellectual property infringement, Jolomi reports.
  • Seven platforms transforming Africa's creative industry: Africa's creative economy currently employs an estimated 5 million people and accounts for $5 billion in GDP across Africa, these seven platforms serve as a needed catalyst to the success of these creatives.
  • Portal for MFB licence applications: The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday announced that it has unveiled a digital platform for the submission of Microfinance Bank (MFB) licence applications.
  • How African startups can navigate the funding winter: Funding to the continent dwindled in Q3 2022, creating a 'funding winter.' Three seasoned investors joined us at The Investor Clinic to share insights on how to navigate the season.

💼 Opportunities

Jobs

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

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

Other opportunities

  • Research & Data Fellowship: OCCRP is seeking applications for its new 8-week hybrid Research & Data Fellowship. They're looking for 6-8 fellows who are excited to learn about OSINT, research, & data. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis till Sept. 29.
  • Become the next YC-backed startup: Y Combinator is accepting applications from startups for the Winter 2024 funding cycle. The deadline for on-time applications is October 13.
  • Innovating for the African Bitcoin ecosystem: Btrust Builders has launched the Build for Africa, a hackathon that allows African Bitcoin enthusiasts to build solutions that solve African challenges and increase Bitcoin adoption in Africa. The winning idea will win about $5000.
  • For African tech startups: Applications are open for the 2023 MEST Africa Challenge. Only early-stage startups in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa, are eligible to apply for the $50,000 in equity prize.

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