Note #7: Feb 28 - March 10 2017

Context and Thoughts

African startups continue joining Y Combinator (with Ghana & Nigeria leading the pack) I’ve been tracking the number of African startups entering Y Combinator – very impressive to see the beyond-exponential growth from 2014 to 2016, hopefully that trend will continue through the end of 2017.

Fibre infrastructure in Africa expands with Facebook laying down 500 miles of fibre in Uganda, and African connectivity firm Liquid Telecoms is laying down twice that amount (1,000 miles!) of fibre infrastructure in Zimbabwe.

Industry News

  • South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) “relaxes” controls on sales, transfer and assignment of intellectual property from South Africa, but does not remove them link link2

  • Google Launchpad Accelerator program now accepting applications for the first time from Sub-Saharan Africa startups in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa link

  • .africa TLD (top level domain) continues moving forward towards a 4 July 2017 general availability launch link

  • 12 Kenyan banks now accepting/issuing Verve cards (owned by Interswitch [NG], accepted in 19 African countries), further positioning Verve as a growing African Mastercard/Visa competitor link

  • Facebook announces plans to 500 miles of fibre in Uganda in partnership with Airtel and BCS link

  • African connectivity provider Liquid Telecom is rolling out a 1,000 mile fibre network at a cost of $14mm to connect 16 regions in southern and eastern Zimbabwe link

Deals, Startups, and More

  • Scholarship search engine edtech startup ScholarX [NG] expands reach from Nigeria into Ghana link

  • Smallholder farmer agritech startup GreenFingers Mobile [ZA] closes seed investment round (terms undisclosed) from Hivos Food and Lifestyle Fund link link2

  • Reunert [ZA], a JSE-listed ICT firm, acquires 51% interest in South African startups Terra Firma Solutions (home solar PV systems and software) and Ryonic Robotics (robots to inspect pipelines and dangerous/confined areas) link

  • African payments startup Zoona [ZA] raised an additional $1mm funding from the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, funded by the IFC (International Finance Corporation and Mastercard Foundation, to launch a new mobile wallet product and reach 300,000 new users link

  • Business payments startup Yoco [ZA] has raised its Series A round (amount undisclosed) from Quona Capital [USA] and Velocity Capital [NL] link

  • IoT platform startup IoT.nxt [ZA] raises R100mm in funding from Talent Holdings to launch their London office and grow into European markets link

  • Transport data startup WhereIsMyTransport [ZA] announces completion of “world first” map of Cape Town’s formal and informal (minibus taxi) transport networks link