BD Insider 228: Multichoice hit in ₦7.9 billion fraud

Inside: Nigeria wants to launch another national ID, Kenya's e-mobility policy and Hauwei's $10 million cloud credit grant for African startups.

BD Insider 228: Multichoice hit in ₦7.9 billion fraud
Multichoice Nigeria

At the Lagos Cloud Startup Summit last week, Huawei announced a cloud credit grant of $10 million to empower 100 Nigerian startups.

This investment, spread over two years, provides each participating startup with access to up to $150,000 in cloud resources. The company also plans to launch a local cloud service in Nigeria by 2024.

We will bring you more details as it unfolds.

In this letter, we explore:

  • Nigeria's latest national ID card
  • how Multichoice was defrauded of ₦7.9 billion
  • Kenya's e-mobility policy

We also have updates on the state of funding in Africa, other noteworthy information such as BD Insider Perspective and several opportunities.

The big three!

#1. Nigeria wants to launch another national ID card

The news: The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), along with the Central Bank and Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), is launching a new national ID card that doubles as a debit card.

Powered by AfriGO, the national domestic card scheme, this multi-purpose card allows access to social services, financial transactions and even works offline. This initiative aims to boost financial inclusion for Nigerians nationwide.

According to Kayode Adegoke, NIMC's spokesperson, "Only registered citizens and legal residents with the National Identification Number (NIN) will be eligible to request the card. The card, which will be produced according to ICAO standards, is positioned as the country’s default national identity card."

When the card is launched, eligible citizens will be able to apply for the card online, at any bank branch, through participating agencies, or at any NIMC office across Nigeria.

Rewind: The latest ID card with debit functionality isn't the first attempt. In 2014, the Goodluck Jonathan administration partnered with Mastercard for a similar electronic ID card that could also serve as a voter's card. However, that pilot program targeting 13 million Nigerians failed.

Some analysts are sceptical, questioning whether this initiative will fare any better considering the ongoing challenges with accessibility faced by many Nigerians in obtaining the current physical cards.

Zoom in: When AfriGO, debuted last year, Kabir Shittu, COO of Sudo Africa (a Nigerian fintech providing card-issuing tools), hinted to that the central bank might use various initiatives to drive its adoption. "...CBN might ask everyone to come on board as they did with eNaira," he said at the time. Looks like it's coming to pass.

#2. Multichoice hit in ₦7.9 billion fraud

The news: The Nigerian subsidiary of Multichoice, the South African company behind DSTv, the popular satellite television service, reportedly lost ₦7.9 billion in a fraudulent foreign currency exchange deal, according to Premium Times.

The botched currency exchange deal centred around Akintunde Giwa, a Nigerian forex broker, and JNFX Limited, a British currency exchange firm. Court documents reveal that JNFX had a representative named Ashay Mervyn, who was also a director at Frontier Financial Technologies Limited, a Nigerian company. Giwa, acting as a middleman, allegedly facilitated the fraudulent transaction.

Giwa had a long-standing business relationship with MultiChoice Nigeria, providing foreign currency exchange services (Naira to USD) for their operations.

How it happened: Per reporting by Premium Times, MultiChoice Nigeria paid ₦7.9 billion (₦7,914,209,196.50) to Giwa. He then forwarded these funds to JNFX Limited, supposedly on behalf of MultiChoice contracts.

However, details showed that the money instead went into accounts controlled by Giwa and then to accounts designated by JNFX through Mervyn. In exchange, dollars were supposed to be deposited into a MultiChoice Africa (London) account at Standard Chartered Bank.

However, MultiChoice did not receive the equivalent amount in dollars (approximately $16.2 million).

Similar scams have recently hit other African companies, including Ghanaian fintech firms Float and SDQ Financial. 

And now? In a decisive ruling, the court found in favour of Giwa's claim of deceit against JNFX and Mervyn. Hence, Giwa was awarded a summary judgment, meaning a decision based solely on the presented evidence without trial, for the full amount plus interest. This decision was reached after careful consideration of the arguments and evidence presented by both sides.

#3. Kenya launches national e-mobility draft policy

The news: Last week, the Kenyan government launched its e-mobility draft policy which aims to rev up the local scene by encouraging companies to build and assemble electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.

Kenya's transport minister, Kipchumba Murkomen, explained that the new e-mobility policy goes beyond just cars. It will guide the development of electric options for all transportation – including roads, trains, aeroplanes, and even ships. This policy will help Kenya move from gasoline-powered vehicles (internal combustion engines) towards cleaner alternatives.

"To promote faster adoption of EVs, we have begun the process of assigning green-coloured number plates to all-electric vehicles, including two-wheelers. Special plates will help raise awareness about EVs among the general public and encourage more people to consider switching to e-mobility," Murkomen said.

As of last year, there were at least 1350 EVs on Kenyan roads.

Know more: Kenya has been at the forefront of EV adoption in Africa. “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," President William Ruto said at the launch of Kenya's national e-mobility programme last year.

Kenya's electric vehicle industry is getting a boost from private companies too. Companies like Roam (formerly Opibus), a Swedish-Kenyan electric vehicle startup, and BasiGo have set up shop in Kenya to assemble electric vehicles locally.

💰 State of Funding in Africa

African tech VC funding declined 51% in Q1 2024

In Q1 2024, startups on the continent raised about $369 million across 64 publicly announced deals, a 51.36% plunge from the previous year according to BD Funding Tracker.

Equity funding accounted for 67% of deals, with debt funding inching up to 14.90% and undisclosed mixed deals (combining equity and debt) capturing the remaining 18.43%.

Africa's "Big Four" markets—Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt – continued their reign, securing 91.22% of the funding pie in Q1 2024. This dominance stands in stark contrast to other emerging markets like Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tunisia, and Côte d'Ivoire, which collectively raised only one deal each (except for Tunisia with two), ranging from $314,000 to $5.9 million.

We published an in-depth analysis of last quarter's funding trends.

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • Football has a big problem: The beautiful game can turn ugly when fans take their frustration on players online. In this article, Daniel Adeyemi talks to experts about the herd mentality that leads to this cyberbullying, the consequences and the remedy.
  • Microsoft faces legal battle in South Africa: The antitrust agency of South Africa, the Competition Commission wants to investigate Microsoft Azure's cloud computing licensing practices in the country.
  • Ghana is Africa's latest country to get a digital library: YouScribe, a France-based, Orange-owned reading service provider with operations in Africa, has expanded its offering to Ghana. The provider has over one million audio and eBooks, newspapers, press titles, and educational documents.
  • Why Nigeria’s currency is rebounding against the dollar: Nigeria’s naira is recovering from record lows hit this year, following interventions by its central bank through interest rate rises and the direct sale of dollars to foreign exchange bureaus, Semafor Africa reports.
  • uLesson founder wants to back more African entrepreneurs: Sim Shagaya, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of uLesson has announced his new venture The Honey Badger Fund (HBF), a fund for backing "extraordinary Africans".
  • Thepeer shuts down: Three-year-old seed-stage African API fintech, Thepeer is shutting down after raising nearly $2.5 million in funding.

💼 Opportunities


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

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

Other opportunities

  • AI in Journalism: The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development is inviting journalists and technologists to apply for an AI in Journalism Fellowship. Deadline: April 19, 2024.
  • For West African journalists: FactCheck Africa is accepting applications for its AI Journalism Fellowship in West Africa. The program emphasizes the significance of ethical considerations in the integration of AI tools within journalism. The deadline is April 27.
  • App testers in Ghana and Nigeria: Earn up to $30 daily by testing mobile apps in the Diaload Tester Pool program. Diaload is a software development company revolutionising app testing and collaboration is looking for people with a keen eye for detail and a love for mobile apps to provide valuable feedback to app development teams.
  • For early-stage founders: Norrsken Accelerator is accepting applications for the 2024 cohort. The 2024 cohort will take place at Norrsken House in Stockholm from July to September 2024. Selected startups will receive up to $125k in funding.

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