1 MAY, 2023
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Happy Labour Day 💪🏾
Twitter is working on a feature to allow publishers to ask users to pay per click for articles. This means if you see an article you want to read on TechCabal’s Twitter page, you’ll have to pay to read that specific article.
Much is still unknown on how Chief Twit Musk plans to pull off this micro-payments feature, but Musk himself says it will be a win-win for everyone.
KENYA APPROVES SPYWARE FOR PHONES
Kenya wants to curb the sale and distribution of fake phones and its solution is a spyware software on every mobile device in its territory.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Kenya approved the installation and use of the Device Management System (DMS) on all mobile phones to help curb counterfeit devices.
A six-year journey: The use of DMS was first proposed in 2017 by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) which, at the time, was already testing the DMS across the country. DMS would reportedly use mobile networks to remotely access devices’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and ban those that were counterfeit.
The proposal was blocked in 2018 but the Court of Appeal, in 2020, overturned the block and allowed the CAK to continue developing DMS. By October 2022, CAK revived the application for roll out to much public outcry.
Privacy concerns: Mobile network providers, especially Safaricom, have pushed against the use of the DMS, stating that the software would allow Kenya’s communications regulator to access customer data including calls and messages.
In October, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) also petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the DMS for the same privacy concerns. The Supreme Court dismissed all appeals citing that the CAK via its regulatory act had the power to monitor compliance with its laws.
This approval will see to the creation of an Equipment Identification Register (EIR), which will detect all devices, isolate the illegal ones, and deny fake devices service.
Big picture: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a similar yet more robust registry, the Régistre des Appareils Mobiles (RAM), which registers devices including phones, tablets and laptops, by matching the 15-digit IMEIs to buyers. With RAM, users can get stolen phones blocked and the DRC can monitor counterfeit devices registered within its territory.
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SA FIRM TO PAY $3.4 BILLION FOR CRYPTO FRAUD
Once again, it appears South Africa has found itself at the centre of some of the world’s biggest crypto fraud cases.
What’s up? A federal US court in Texas has ordered the CEO of a South African firm to pay $3.4 billion for bitcoin fraud. This is now the biggest fraud case involving bitcoin.
In July 2022, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, head of Mirror Trading International (MTI), was charged by the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) for running a $1.7 billion bitcoin scam. From 2018 to 2021, Steynberg, via his firm, told customers that his firm would help trade bitcoin.
By the end of 2021, however, the firm had misappropriated over 29,421 bitcoin worth $1.7 billion from over 23,000 victims.
While Steynberg was charged with the $1.7 billion fraud in 2022, a federal judge last week ordered him to pay $3.4 billion—$1.7 billion in restitution to victims, and another $1.7 billion as a penalty.
Victims may get nothing: Last year, MyBroadBand reported that the liquidators of MTI recovered 1,281 bitcoin frozen by its former brokerage in Belize, FXChoice. The liquidators immediately sold the bitcoin and received R1.1 billion (~$65 million) for the assets.
Unfortunately, victims of MTI’s fraud may not receive their dues as several government agencies are after the firm for one fee or the other. The South African Revenue Services (SARS) slapped the firm with a $55 million fine for back taxes while liquidators of MTI and Steynberg are also clamouring for legal fees which reportedly cost over $13.3 million.
At this point, Steynberg is considered a fugitive from South African authorities while MTI has been declared a pyramid scheme.
OPENAI RAISES $300 MILLION
OpenAI, parent company of ChatGPT and DALL-E, recently closed a $300 million raise.
This funding round, which includes participation from Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive and K2 Global, brings OpenAI’s valuation to $27 billion—$29 billion.
Another investment? TechCrunch reports that this round is separate from a January 2023 undisclosed funding round with Microsoft. At the time, Microsoft announced that it was extending its partnership with OpenAI and investing billions more in the AI company. Sources at TechCrunch, however, noted that Microsoft’s investment was worth $10 billion.
At this stage, neither investors nor OpenAI have commented on the latest funding event or what OpenAI will use it for.
Already, OpenAI’s products have gained popularity with users across the world with its ChatGPT reaching 100 million users within four months of launch. OpenAI’s success has also spurred other tech companies to incorporate AI into their systems. Examples include Google’s Bard, Canva Magic, and even Dropbox which recently laid off 16% of its staff, in a pivot to AI.
TC INSIGHTS: GAMING FOR GOOD
Picture this: virtual battles, racing games, and candy-crushing everywhere! According to a 2021 report by Carry1st and Newzoo, between 2015 and 2021, the number of mobile gamers in sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled to 186 million people, with countries like South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia leading the charge.
This number is projected to reach over 310 million by 2027 and grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.65% between 2023 and 2027, with an annual revenue reaching $2.27 billion—making it the fastest-growing online gaming market in the world. So it’s safe to say that Africa is on fire, and the gaming industry is the new gold rush in town.
The increase in mobile internet penetration and smartphone rates has been a game-changer. Imagine, 95% of gamers play games on their smartphones or tablets. With all the virtual adventures, puzzles, and sports games available, it’s no wonder that millions of people are tapping away at their smartphones. As the number of mobile internet users is expected to reach 712 million, the number of smartphone users is also projected to reach 678 million by 2025. So, it’s unsurprising that gaming startups are emerging to dig this goldmine even deeper.
But as the mobile gaming industry grows with the upsurge in the smartphone revolution and cheap mobile internet drive on the continent, so does the concern for gambling addiction. According to a report by GeoPoll, 54% of surveyed young male mobile gamers in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced some form of gambling addiction as a result of playing mobile games.
Now, gaming startups have a solution to save the day with a “play-to-save” concept. Gamers can save their winnings as digital tokens on a blockchain system, which they can use to pay for essential expenses in the future. It’s just like hitting the jackpot without having to worry about losing it all on a bad bet. For example, Nairobi-based Usiku Games enables more Africans to join national health insurance programmes with savings from playing games to pay for health insurance.
However, not all African countries are ready to accept tokenised monthly premium payments—just yet. But Jay Shapiro, founder of Usiku Games, believes that public-private working partnerships can resolve this. He suggests that national insurance funds work alongside gaming startups to bring young gamers into these tokenized insurance schemes, making money made on gaming platforms accepted by the government as legitimate means of insurance premium payments.
In conclusion, the growth of the online gaming industry in Africa presents untapped opportunities and a variety of challenges. Nevertheless, with proper regulation, innovation, and partnerships, the potential of games can be harnessed to strive for social good and positively impact the continent’s economic development while ensuring that gaming companies operate ethically and do not take advantage of their players.
THE WORLD WIDE WEB3
* Data as of 06:15 AM WAT, May 1, 2023.
Nigerian crypto exchange platform Roqqu has received regulatory licence to launch in South Africa. CoinTelegraph reports that the licence will allow South African users buy cryptocurrencies and withdraw funds in Rand on Roqqu’s platform.
Mastercard has launched a Web3 user verification service to curb fraud. CoinDesk reports that the Mastercard Crypto Credential is designed to ensure transactions between users’ wallets are verifiable and compliant, beginning with transfers of digital assets between countries.
REPORT: HOW HOUSEHOLDS SHAPE THE ECONOMY
How do informal household transactions shape Nigeria’s economy?
Our most recent report which was put together by TechCabal Insights and Sycamore, explores the relationship between family and social lending and the informal sector, why it exists, common challenges of family lending, and its implications for the Nigerian financial economy, as well as the possibilities therein, especially with the advent of digitalization in the space.
The report recommends several strategies to promote financial inclusion and improve access to finance for underserved communities in Nigeria, including the development of stronger credit scoring systems, the promotion of financial literacy, and the provision of peer-to-peer digital lending platforms.
Get ahead of the curve on the latest trends in the Nigerian informal finance market and the innovations in the space. Download the report here.
IN OTHER NEWS FROM TECHCABAL
Funding or not, Wimbart’s Jessica Hope believes tech PR is here to stay.
AfDB and Smart Africa Alliance team up for a $1.5 million digital trade and e-commerce project.
- Tek Experts – Technical Lead – Software Developer – Full time, Lagos Nigeria
- Venture Builder – Founder’s Factory – Full-time, Kenya
- Kuda Technologies Limited – Technical Lead, Backend Engineer – Full time, Lagos, Nigeria
- Vocalysd – Technical Co-founder – Full-time, South Africa
- Talent500 – React.js Developer – Full-time, Kenya
- Wazobia Technologies – Product Manager – Full time, Lagos, Nigeria
- Revelo Africa – Lead Front-end developer – Full-time, Ghana
- PressOne Africa – Technical Product Manager – Full time, Lagos, Nigeria
- Standard Bank Group – Software Engineer – Johannesburg, South Africa
- MTN– Controller, Fintech Business Development – Full-time, Ghana
- Moja – Frontend Engineer (Kotlin) – Full-time, Remote, Kenya
- Synnefa Green Limited – Junior Software Developer– Full-time, Kenya
- Staffrite – Chief Technology Officer – Full-time, Kenya
- Datadrive2030 – Data Analyst – Full-time, Capetown, South Africa
There are more jobs on TechCabal’s job board. If you have job opportunities to share, please submit them at bit.ly/tcxjobs.
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Written by – Timi Odueso & Ayomide Agbaje
Edited by – Kelechi Njoku
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