Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly this week, Bosun Tijani, Nigeria's minister of communication, innovation and digital economy has released the agenda that he intends to pursue at the sidelines of the assembly in New York.
Tijani said his top priorities include: expanding the Universal Service Provision Fund, positioning Nigeria as a hub for AI training, and accelerating economic diversification through technology.
“By collaborating with global leaders and stakeholders, we aim to bring forth a brighter, digital and inclusive future for Nigeria. It is an opportunity to reinforce our global ties, understand emerging trends and co-design pathways that can elevate the prosperity of our nation,” he added.
Just as we did during the G20 meeting in India, we will bring you coverage of the UNGA as it affects Africa's digital economy.
In this letter, we will explore:
- the visit of Kenya's president to the Silicon Valley
- controversies around the Nigeria-UAE visa ban
- what's happening at CBN's helm
We also curated updates on the state of funding in Africa, other noteworthy information, and several opportunities.
The big three
#1. Ruto woos tech investors at Silicon Valley
The news: Kenya's president, William Ruto was at Silicon Valley in San Francisco last week to woo American tech investors and companies to invest in the East African country, as part of the US-Kenya Business Roadshow.
“Kenya is a full package investment destination; economically stable, entrepreneurial, secure, innovative with a favourable tax environment, skilled labour force, technological expertise, green energy credentials and a gateway for six undersea fibre-optic cables providing reliable data connectivity,” he said.
Know more: At home in Kenya, Ruto has been accused of increasing taxes for businesses, including those in the tech sector.
However, Ruto insists that “[Kenya has] a tax code that is simple to enforce, consistent, fair, and predictable”. “We have eliminated value-added tax on exported services and the tax on stock-based compensation for employees of startups, as well as the domestic equity requirement for ICT companies,” he said.
“Our country is not only a thriving economy of the hardest workers you can find anywhere,” Ruto said. In recent times, Kenya has been accused of poor labour laws that have led to the exploitation of Kenyan workers by Big Tech companies. Meta and Sama, its [former] main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa, have faced several lawsuits in Kenya over alleged unsafe and unfair working conditions.
#2. What we know about the UAE visa ban on Nigerian travellers
Zoom in: Last week, the Nigerian government announced that the 11-month visa ban by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been lifted and that the Gulf state-owned Emirates and Etihad would “immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria without any further delay,” Ajuri Ngelale, Nigeria's spokesperson, said.
As of Monday (September 11) when the news broke, a report from Emirates News Agency, the UAE-state media, which was posted by the UAE Embassy in Nigeria did not corroborate Ngelale's statements in detail. “The UAE President and Nigerian President explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration in areas that serve both countries’ sustainable economic growth, including the economic, development...,” reads the report.
Later that day, Ngelale told local media Channels TV that: “Every agreement comes with mutual responsibility. There is no free lunch. What I mean by that is the notion that floodgates will open up and we go back to business as usual. That is not what Nigerians should expect. I want to be very clear about this so that everybody can understand.”
Contrary to the widely circulated news, an anonymous UAE official told CNN that “there are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”
Context: A year ago, UAE's Emirates suspended all its flights in and out of Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate $85 million stuck in Nigeria. Later in October of the same year, the UAE imposed a visa ban on all Nigerian travellers.
#3. President Tinubu reforms Nigeria's central bank leadership
On Friday, Nigeria's president Bola Tinubu nominated Olayemi Michael Cardoso to serve as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He also approved the nomination of Emem Nnana Usoro, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor, and Bala Bello as deputies. If approved by the Nigerian Senate, all nominees will serve at the apex bank for a five-year term at first instance.
These nominations come about three months after Tinubu suspended former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele with immediate effect, following an ongoing investigation of his office and planned reforms in the financial sector, he was later arrested by the State Security Service (SSS). Per Reuters, Emefiele resigned last month.
💰 State of Funding in Africa
Barely a week after we reported that LipaLater is crowdfunding $1.2 million at a $30,000,000 valuation, the Kenyan fintech has announced that it secured $5 million in a privately placed debt issuance, and is planning to raise $20 million in both equity and debt “to spur our growth further as we work towards unlocking a $500 billion financial inclusion opportunity in urban Africa”.
Aside from Lipa Later, two other African tech startups also raised funding last week. Find below a summary of the activities.
- West Africa’s largest cloud infrastructure company, WhoGoHost, has acquired SendChamp, a Nigerian cloud communications startup that powers online messaging for African businesses for an undisclosed amount.
Here are other important stories in the media:
- “Mother-tongue e-books” for Nigerian kids: WhatsApp has partnered with NBA Star, Giannis to provide “mother-tongue e-books” for Nigerian kids through NABU, a digital publisher.
- Nigeria announces UAE-backed FX liquidity programme: Tinubu has announced that the country is working on a joint foreign exchange liquidity programme with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He disclosed this after a meeting with Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE president, in Abu Dhabi.
- Flutterwave hires 170 graduate trainees as full-time employees: Amidst global layoffs and rising unemployment, Flutterwave has hired 85% of its 200 graduate trainees as full-time employees, after a 12-month-long paid traineeship.
- Tech Nation is back: Six months after it ceased operations, Tech Nation, a UK organisation that endorses Global Talent Visa, is set to relaunch its operations in October.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Branch — Product Designer, Nigeria
- Mastercard — Director of Products, Nairobi
- Credpal — Product Manager, Lagos (Hybrid)
Data & Engineering
- Moniepoint — Cloud Infra Engineer, Lagos
- Bamboo — Senior Software Engineer, Remote
- Kuda — Data Analyst, Lagos
Admin & Growth
- Wakanow — Email Marketing Specialist, Lagos
- M-KOPA — Marketing Lead, Accra
- Brass — Business Lead (Payroll), Hybrid
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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