BD Insider 199: Telkom Kenya gets new ownership

Is there an Opay account in your name that you didn't create? Local regulators are investigating the company for possible privacy breaches.

BD Insider 199: Telkom Kenya gets new ownership
Telkom in Kenya

August saw the formation of a Kenyan parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the operations and activities of Sam Altman's crypto initiative, Worldcoin, within the nation.

Just last week, the committee not only recommended the company's closure but also advised that "necessary legal action" be pursued against Worldcoin and its Kenyan partners.

Recall that earlier in August, the Kenyan government suspended the operations of Worldcoin in the country over financial, security and privacy concerns.

Still in Kenya, we bring you news about the launch of the AWS Development Centre in Nairobi, and the acquisition of a majority stake at Telkom Kenya by UAE-based, ICA.

We also covered the investigation of Opay Nigeria by consumer protection and data privacy regulators.

The big three

#1. AWS launches development centre in Nairobi

The news: Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Wednesday inaugurated a new African Development Centre in Kenya. This facility will serve as the home to AWS Research & Development teams, contributing to the generation of new, high-level positions in software development, cloud support, and software engineering.

The new hub in Kenya is AWS' second establishment in Africa, with the first hub located in Cape Town, South Africa.

Why it matters: “The decision to open a new development centre in Kenya is evidence of the trust that AWS has in our people and in our economy. I look forward to our continued collaboration with AWS as it deepens their commitment to our country,” William Ruto, Kenya's president, said during the launch.

President Ruto at the AWS Development Center in Nairobi

According to Uwem Ukpong, vice president of global services at AWS, this centre will enable the local market to tap into an incredible pool of technical talent. “With a steady injection of home-grown talent on Kenya’s side, we can continue to enhance our commitment to Kenya’s economic development. This is a win-win for all involved,” Ukpong said.

AWS in Kenya: AWS, like many other global companies, is increasing its presence in Kenya and expanding throughout Africa. Since August 2022, they've introduced outposts and plan to set up local zones in Kenya.

They're also partnering with the Kenyan ICT authority to provide AWS Academy training to 10,000 Kenyan students.

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#2. UAE-based ICA to acquire a majority stake in Telkom Kenya

The news: Infrastructure Corporation of Africa LLC (ICA), based in the United Arab Emirates, is set to acquire a 60% stake in Telkom Kenya from London-based private equity firm Helios. This transaction follows a competitive process.

Why it matters: The Kenyan cabinet recently revoked a previous administration's deal with Helios for the nationalisation of Telkom Kenya, citing “governance challenges” during the last transaction.

This change introduces an element of uncertainty for foreign investors, as abrupt policy shifts are typically viewed unfavourably. However, the finance ministry clarified that it had abandoned the nationalisation plan and initiated a search for a new strategic investor. ICA emerged as the chosen investor and planned to inject capital to upgrade Telkom's infrastructure.

Under the new arrangement, Helios will transfer the majority stake to ICA, although the financial details of the deal remain undisclosed. Helios acquired a 60% stake in Telkom Kenya from Orange in 2016.

Know more: While the smallest operator compared to Safaricom and Bharti Airtel, Telkom Kenya manages key assets critical for government communications, including a national fibre-optic network. Its management has long advocated for industry reforms to curb the dominance of Safaricom in the telecommunications sector.

Telkom Kenya, the third-largest telecom in the nation, lost 1.62 million subscribers between March last year and this June due to a crackdown on unregistered SIM cards.

#3. Authorities are investigating Opay Nigeria for potential consumer rights breaches

The news: Nigeria's consumer protection and data privacy regulators—Nigeria Data Protection Commission, Nigerian Consumer Protection Commission and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said they are investigating Opay Nigeria for “possible consumer violation”.

What we know: Last week, several Nigerian X users made claims that they possessed Opay accounts despite not having personally registered them. Opay has since refuted these allegations. According to Adekunle Adeyemi, Opay's head of marketing, “After conducting our investigation, we have determined that these accounts were indeed established by their rightful owners at various times, primarily during the years 2019 and 2020.”

During that aforementioned time frame, the company executed extensive user acquisition campaigns across its various verticals, including ride-hailing (ORide), food delivery (OFood), and fintech services (OKash). These initiatives involved promotional activities and influencer marketing efforts. “I used the phone numbers of several of my family members to create accounts for their giveaways,” a source, who pleaded anonymity told

“It is also important to note that OPay has never created nor does it operate any account on behalf of any individual,” the company said in a statement.

💰 State of Funding in Africa

Last week, Google selected 11 African startups for the first cohort of its “Google for Startups Accelerator: AI First” programme.

The selected startups include three startups from Nigeria; Famasi Africa, Izifin and Vyz. Others are Avalon Health (South Africa), Chatbots Africa (Ghana), Dial Afrika Inc (Kenya), Fastagger Inc (Kenya), Lengo AI (Senegal), Logistify AI (Uganda), Garri Logistics (Ethiopia) and Telliscope (Ethiopia).

These startups will undergo a 10-week accelerator journey, beyond benefiting from Google’s AI expertise and a $350,000 allocation in Google Cloud Credits. 

Meanwhile, find below how four African startups jointly raised over $28.4 million last week.

📰 Noteworthy

Here are some of the important stories in the media:

  • Northern Nigeria's startup hotspots: The 2023 Northern Nigeria Tech Ecosystem report from TechTankLabs reveals that Kano, Kaduna, and Abuja, host the majority of startups in Northern Nigeria, surpassing the halfway mark in the regional startup landscape.
  • Stears transition to B2B: Pan-African data and intelligence company, Stears today announced its transition from B2C to B2B. The company has also launched intelligence solutions for businesses and professionals.
  • Inside 'Bosun Tijani’s plan for Nigeria’s digital economy: 'Bosun Tijani has launched a blueprint for Nigeria's digital economy spanning five interconnected pillars: knowledge, policy, infrastructure, innovation, entrepreneurship & capital, and trade.
  • AfriChange Foundation to offer $2500(CAD) grant to international students: Africhange is launching a foundation as an initiative to give back to the community by helping young Nigerians who want to study abroad to achieve their dreams.

💼 Opportunities

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

Product & Design:

Data & Engineering:

Admin & Growth:

Other opportunities

  • For healthtech founders: The Halcyon Fellowship has opened applications for founders at the MVP stage building innovative solutions in healthcare Apply by October 21, 2023
  • 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

We are attending:

  • Moonshot Conference: TechCabal is hosting the inaugural edition of its Moonshot conference. bringing together Africa’s tech ecosystem in person to network, collaborate, share insights and celebrate innovation on the continent. Get your tickets here.

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