Note #4: Oct 3 - 23 2016

context and thoughts

as October comes to a close, there’s been a lot happening in South Africa over the last 3 weeks in terms of investment and government policy:

investment: as i researched this 4th issue of Africa Notes, South Africa continues to see the highest # of tech startup investment deals in SSA. (AFAIK, since not all startup investment/acquisition deals are publicly announced)

policy: South Africa’s recently published National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper represents a potentially massive change to South Africa’s communications and Internet ecosystem, not to mention its postal system and beyond. i touched on this in the last issue of Africa Notes when i mentioned it had been tabled, and have spent some time reading over it since then – it’s an extremely wide-ranging document, and anyone tracking South Africa’s Internet or telecoms future should make time to read it over. (South African publishers are already reviewing some of the questions raised by the ICT White Paper)

When it comes to how it specifically the ICT White Paper could impact spectrum allocation, there is an evaluation by My Broadband which says “The paper calls for radical changes in the telecommunications market, including the creation of a Wireless Open Access Network (OAN). All unassigned high-demand spectrum – essentially LTE spectrum – will be set aside for the OAN.“ This would mark a huge change from South Africa’s current spectrum auction model.

as for where South Africa goes from here, according to an ITWeb interview with the CEO of ICASA, “there are a number of dynamics at play when one publishes a white paper. One of those dynamics is they must then decide, in the white paper, those issues that are going to be in the legislation. Unfortunately, in SA, legislation takes 18 months to two years to finalise. So, we have got a nice fight ahead of us in Parliament regarding the legislation that is going to be put in place.”

and finally, taking a look at Nigerian startups, i recently read two articles that i wanted to highlight: one describes the need for more Nigerian startups to announce their funding rounds (please! i only link to what’s actually been written about publicly) and Nigerian startups beyond Lagos. As the Nigerian startup ecosystem grows, i expect to see more focus on Nigerian tech beyond Lagos in the future (even during Y Combinator’s short visit to Nigeria they made sure to visit both Lagos and Abuja).

pan africa

  • ecosystem GSMA estimates that African smartphone adoption will surpass 50% by 2020 as device costs drop link


  • invest Safaricom’s Spark Venture Fund invests in mobile education startup Eneza Education link

  • invest transport startup Magic Bus Ticketing (“Uber for buses, but offline”) wins Hult Prize for $1mm seed funding link

  • startups finalists announced for Pivot East startup conference & pitch competition on Nov 15th in Nairobi link

  • startups skills training and accelerator program GE Lagos Garage relaunching in Lagos in mid-November link

  • startups CoLab innovation hub launches in Kaduna link

  • startups Ingressive and Starta planning “High Growth Africa” startup workshop and pitching event in Lagos for mid-November link

  • startups East African music streaming and download service Mdundo reaches over 1mm users link

  • startups Naspers-owned VOD service ShowMax launches in Kenya with M-PESA payment support and low-bandwidth optimization link
    payments Twinpine releases their Kenya mobile trends report for 2016 link

  • ecosystem Kenyan mobile phone subscribers grow 9.9% from April to June 2016, up to 39.7mm subscribers link

  • govt #StopFilmBill trends as Kenya’s controversial “Film, Stage Plays and Publications Act 2016” proposes to regulate VoD, games, OTT services aka mobile apps, and more link link2 link3

  • govt Kenya’s Kozna Techno City signs deal with Tel Aviv Global to create JV opportunities between Kenyan and Israeli startups link link2


  • startups Uber launching used vehicle loans available w/ low interest rates for top drivers link

  • startups Netflix deploys their first West Africa streaming server in Lagos w/ Spectranet link

  • payments KPMG is planning their FinTech Summit 2016 for Nov 22nd in Lagos link

  • payments PayPal announces Nigeria is their 2nd largest market in Africa within 1 year of launch link

  • payments Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) blocks all foreign-currency transactions on credit cards denominated in Naira link

  • hubs LeadSpace coworking space launched in Lagos by Passion Incubator link

  • ecosystem Chinese emerging market smartphone company Tecno announces plan to start manufacturing devices in Nigeria link

  • ecosystem Huawei launches $6mm innovation and training center in Lagos link

  • ecosystem ROK Studios launching Nollywood-only DSTV satellite channel on Nov 1 link

  • govt Nigerian Senate uses e-voting system for their first time to add transparency to voting link

  • govt Minister of Communications sees ICT sector to employ 40+ million Nigerians, more important than oil & gas industry link

  • govt National IT Developer Agency (NITDA) announces plan to train 60 million Nigerians in digital literacy within 3 years link

  • govt Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) updates guidelines to open up the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to mobile money, payments and more link

south africa

  • invest e-learning startup The Student Hub raises $300k from angel investors link

  • invest used car marketplace CarZar raises funding from Silvertree Capital link

  • invest TriTech Media purchases 20% stake in public transportation startup GoMetro link

  • invest 51% of MiBRAND marketing app purchased by Universal Technology Holdings link

  • invest lending startup LulaLend raises new funding round from Accion Venture Lab link

  • payments payments startup Peach Payments expanding into Kenya, Nigeria, and Namibia link

  • payments ABSA partners with mobile bill payment platform walletdoc link

  • hubs Sw7 launches new coworking space in Rivonia, Johannesburg link link2

  • hubs Bandwidth Barn launches new coworking space in Cape Town focused on “high-speed” (300mbps) access for customers link

  • ecosystem Mobile operators giving free bandwidth to university students to access study materials link

  • ecosystem Lenovo launching Motorola smartphones in South Africa (starting w/ Moto Z) link

  • ecosystem Thomson Reuters Data and Innovation Lab launches in Cape Town link link2

other sub-saharan africa countries

  • invest Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) invests $50k seed in Ghana-based Ghalani (farm management platform for agricultural aggregators to work with thousands of small-holding farmers) link

  • invest Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) invests $50k seed in Ghana-based TroTro Tractor (mobile platform for farmers to request and prepay for tractor services) link

  • invest business loyalty Ghanian startup Loystar wins NGN 1mm (USD $3k) seed funding from Arise investment syndicate link

  • invest Innovate Ventures launches new Somali startup accelerator program, first 12 startups accepted link

  • startups Rwanda begins testing of drones for delivery of blood to remote hospitals w/ US healthcare delivery-by-drone startup Zipline link

  • govt Ethiopia bans use of social media during current state of emergency link