Note #12: May 6 - 19 2017

Context and Thoughts

Africa Notes just keeps on growing: as I send out issue #12, I wanted to share a few statistics with you on Africa Notes performance: this newsletter is growing ~7% every 2 weeks, with a 12.1% clickthrough rate (13x industry average, according to Mailchimp), and 54.6% open rate (4x industry average). Thanks to everyone reading this, I’ve appreciated all of your feedback and support!

Infrastructure investments continue to grow in Africa: Google / IFC / Convergence Partners / Mitisui announced they are co-investing up to $100minto CSquared to “build wholesale metro fibre optic networks and enable internet access in Africa”, and Microsoft has announced 2 upcoming new Microsoft Cloud regions in South Africa for a 2018 launch.

Developer training remains a key sector in Africa, with Telkom subsidiary BCX investing ~$4.4mm in WeThinkCode [ZA], a coding school in South Africa based on the French coding school 42’s curriculum. An important differentiator from other coding schools in Africa is that WeThinkCode is a full-time (8-10 hours per day) coding school with a 2-year course, making it the longest-term (as far as I’ve seen) coding school in South Africa. [NG] is launching actual, physical stores in Nigeria; Gloo Fresh appears to be a different model than Amazon Go, focused on market growth with new customers instead of reinventing the physical store checkout process.

Industry and Ecosystem News

  • 500 Startups [US] successfully closes “500 Falcons” $15mm MENA fund, planning to invest in 100-150 startups link

  • TechCrunch announces plans to bring Startup Battlefield competition to Nairobi on October 11 w/ sponsor Facebook link link2

  • Microsoft announces plans to launch first Microsoft Cloud regions in two South African cities in 2018: Johannesburg and Cape Town link link2

  • Google, Convergence Partners, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Mitsui & Co. announced an investment of up to $100mm in CSquared, a “a wholesale broadband infrastructure project” link link2

  • Opera Software [NO / CN] announces that it will be spending up to $100mm to “grow the African digital economy, opening Kenya & Nigeria offices link

  • ccHub [NG] launched the Diaspora Challenge, searching for early stage startups, who will receive incubation + $15k funding from ccHub, and potential $250k seed-stage investment from Growth Capital [NG] link

Deals, Startups, and More

  • SweepSouth [ZA] raises capital for African growth via “$1mm+” Series A round led by Smollan, along with DraperDarkFlow (DDF), Identity Development Fund Managers, CRE Venture Capital link

  • BCX, a subsidiary of Telkom [ZA], invests ~$4.4m in WeThinkCode [ZA], a two-year developer training program for South Africa developers age 17-35 link

  • CarZar [ZA] receives $1.5mm funding from Vostok New Ventures [SE] as part of their Series A funding round link link2

  • Private equity firm Synergy Capital [NG] acquires the Nigerian and Ghanaian subsidiaries of Dimension Data [ZA], terms undisclosed link

  • Health wearables startup Vitls [ZA] receives “six-figures” in funding from “New York-based angel investors” as part of a still-open round link

  • E-commerce site [NG] to launch 23 “Gloo Fresh” physical stores in Nigeria over the next 2 years link link2

  • “Insurtech” startup AllLife [ZA] raises funding from Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund [US], terms undisclosed link link2