24 APRIL, 2023
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Good morning ☀️
A new WhatsApp feature that will roll out soon will allow receivers to stop disappearing messages from disappearing. Basically, if you receive a message set to automatically delete, WhatsApp will allow you to press a button to ask the sender to allow you to keep the message forever.
Sounds unnecessary and complicated? Don’t blame Meta, they’ve probably fired all the employees in charge of UX and product. 🤷🏾♂️
STARLINK IS NOT COMING TO SOUTH AFRICA
It’s been months since Starboy Elon Musk’s internet service launched in Africa.
In January, Nigeria became the first African country to receive the service. A month later the service launched in Rwanda, with blessings from the country’s ministry of ICT and innovation.
According to Starlink’s availability map, the service is set to launch in 19 more African countries in 2023, with Zambia, Angola and Kenya scheduled for a Q2 2023 launch. Sixteen countries—Uganda, Tunisia, Ghana and Egypt inclusive—are scheduled for a 2024 release, while 18 more countries have unconfirmed launch windows.
South Africa, Africa’s largest internet-consuming nation, is however missing from Starlink’s chart.
Things are going South: Earlier this month, the Democratic Alliance claimed that the South African government was blocking Starlink’s entry into the country with its harsh telecommunications guidelines.
For Starlink to launch in South Africa, it needs the IECS and IECNS licences. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) requires all companies that apply for these licences to have 30% of their equity held by “historically-disadvantaged groups”. That means South Africa wants Musk to give up a large stake in his profitable venture, so he can offer services in the country.
Zoom out: ICASA, last week, mentioned that it had met with Starlink twice but was yet to receive an official licence application, an event everyone knows might never happen. 🤷🏾♂️ . Kenya had a similar rule but President William Ruto recently reversed the law which required foreign businesses to have 30% Kenyan ownership to operate in the country.
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TWITTER REINVENTS VERIFICATION
On behalf of TechCabal, I’d like to wish all previously-verified readers a warm welcome back into the fray. How does it feel to fall from grace?
Last Friday, true to his promise, Chief Twit Elon Musk and his Twitteroos effected the new legacy verified wipeout. All Twitter users—over 407,000 of them—who were previously verified under the old administration lost their blue ticks, and only Twitter Blue subscribers now have the verified marks.
Friends in high places: If you still want the blue beetle tick without paying the $8 entry fee, there’s still hope—all you have to do is have millions of followers and join Musk’s posse. After the wipeout, celebrities took to Twitter to announce the loss of their social status, but some like horror writer Stephen King and family man LeBron James were still verified even without subscribing to Twitter Blue. Both had tweeted weeks ago that they would not pay for the service.
Musk, moments after King’s tweet, charitably revealed that he was personally paying the Twitter Blue fees for a few persons.
Fight the blues: Now, many more celebrities including pop star Lil NasX, Patton Oswalt, and Nigerian activist Aisha Yesufu who have been verified by force are looking for ways to rid themselves of the blue mark. Critics believe that Musk’s action is misleading and misrepresents the celebrities, many of whom have active followers who could be influenced into paying for the struggling Twitter Blue.
So far, Twitter Blue reportedly has just about 385,000 subscribers, but it’s presently unclear how many of these people are actually
willing paying subscribers. It’s still a long way off from the 50 million Twitter Blue subscriptions it needs to stay afloat.
Come on, Elon, you can do it. Pave the way, put your back into it. 🎉
ALTECH GROUP RAISES $18 MILLION
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is bringing the energy for funding news.
Last week, DRC-based cleantech company Altech Group announced an $18 million raise in debt financing. The company, which has over 4,500 employees covering 22 provinces in the DRC, wants to use the money to provide more Congolese households with access to solar energy.
Who funded the raise? Altech’s raise was led by the Energy Entrepreneurs Growth Fund (EEGF) Triple Jump and Rabobank. It also received support from Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA Funds), SIDI (Solidarité Internationale pour le Développement et l’Investissement), Kiva, Whole Planet Foundation, and EquityBCDC. The grants were provided by Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge and ANSER RDC.
What’s next? Altech has reportedly sold over 350,000 solar products, affecting the lives of 1.7 million Congolese. Now, co-founder Washikala Malango says that it will use the funds to target households in rural, peri-urban and urban areas.
So far, per Crunchbase, Altech Group has raised $27.1 million since its founding in 2013 with its last funding round being a $180,000 debt financing round in March 2022.
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TC INSIGHTS: WHAT THE TECH ECOSYSTEM SCANDALS OF 2022 HAD IN COMMON
In addition to layoffs and the economic downturn in 2022, the African tech ecosystem was hit by a wave of scandals that shook the sector to its core. According to Benjamindada.com, there were six notable scandals that took place in the African startups, including Bento Africa, Flutterwave, Capiter, Kloud Commerce, Risevest, and Healthlane. While the details of each scandal were unique, there was a common thread running through all of them—a lack of adherence to best corporate governance practices.
According to a survey by the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA), 62% of African tech startups did not have a formal board of directors, and 73% did not have an independent director. Additionally, only 26% of startups had a written code of ethics, and only 32% had a formal process for reporting ethical concerns. These findings underscore the urgent need for African tech startups to prioritise sound corporate governance practices.
The prevalence of founder-led companies in the ecosystem have also contributed to a culture that makes it easier for founders and executives to engage in unethical activities without checks and balances. This particularly because most early-stage startups focus on building products and securing funding while often overlooking sound corporate governance practices. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, chairman of Tekedia Capital, believes corporate governance is not just about checklists. “It’s rather a culture where founders, investors, and employees understand the importance of accountability and ethical behaviours to ensure long-term success.”
Investors also have a role to play by prioritising companies that demonstrate a commitment to sound corporate governance beyond achieving returns or a substantial exit. “Investors need to be more diligent in conducting due diligence on potential investments and should not shy away from removing themselves from problematic startups rather than working to ensure founders in their portfolio behave ethically,” Eghosa Omoigui, managing partner at EchoVC Partners, noted.
In conclusion, the scandals in the African tech ecosystem serve as a wake-up call for the sector to prioritise establishing corporate governance structures. By also implementing formal codes of ethics and clear policies for reporting ethical concerns, startups can build trust with their employees and stakeholders and reduce the risk of scandals. Ultimately, a strong commitment to corporate governance will help to build a more sustainable and trustworthy African tech ecosystem.
THE WORLD WIDE WEB3
* Data as of 06:10 AM WAT, April 24, 2023.
What will you do now that AI can sing like your favourite Nigerian musicians? TechCabal examines how artificial intelligence is now being used to mimic singers, and what Nigerian artists think. Upcoming rapper Portable, for example, believes that no one—not even AI—can sing like him.
A new study shows that over 30% of the crypto investment videos on TikTok are misleading. CoinTelegraph examines DeepGambl’s report which analysed over 1,000 crypto investment videos and found one in three misleading. About 47% of the crypto content creators examined were also just trying to make money by pushing crypto services; they didn’t actually believe in crypto.
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IN OTHER NEWS FROM TECHCABAL
Where does YC’s scaleback leave Africa’s tech ecosystem?
Why cloud-based infrastructure will not solve reliability issues in Nigerian banks.
- The SaaS Accelerator Program: Africa 2023 has opened applications for its accelerator programme to enable early startups in Africa to receive funding. Selected startups will receive up to $70,000 in funding. Apply by September 7.
- Growth4Her, a 6-month investment program, is calling for applications from founders in West and Central Africa. Apply by May 8.
- Young Impact Associate (YIA) fellowship which is funded and implemented in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation is open for applications. Apply by May 15.
- WEMA Bank Hackaholic 4.0, a startup competition that enables founders and innovators to blitzscale their ventures, is receiving applications from Nigerian designers, developers, and creative thinkers. Apply before May 1.
- Innovation for Ecosystem Restoration, an accelerator for entrepreneurs championing ecosystem restoration throughout sub-Saharan Africa, is open for applications. Apply by May 14.
- Football club, Paris Saint-Germain, is looking for a startup that can develop a collaborative platform that can solve the challenges of product development in Africa. Apply before April 30.
- Wise Guys SaaS Accelerator Program is looking to help SaaS startups level up through tailored guidance and support from world-class mentors and experts. Apply before September 7.
What else is happening in tech?
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Written by – Timi Odueso & Ayomide Agbaje
Edited by – Kelechi Njoku
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