Category : Science & Tech

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 days ago

Days after pledging to expand internet, Ethiopia’s government shuts it off

Days after Ethiopian ICT officials made public pledges to improve net access, the government began playing on-again, off-again with the internet — shutting it down (almost completely) to coincide with the country’s national exams. Data provided to TechCrunch from Oracle’s Internet Intelligence confirmed intermittent net blackouts from June 11 to 14, with connectivity returning for brief periods during that time-span. Sources on the ground, including in the country’s tech community, confirmed to TechCrunch internet stoppage over the period. Mobile and IP connectivity in Ethiopia is managed by state-owned Ethio Telecom, though the government — led by newly elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde — has committed to break up the telecom and privatize it. On the reason for the outage, the government of Ethiopia has not issued a statement and a government official in charge of ICT policy did not respond to a TechCrunch inquiry. Press reports, and a source speaking to TechCrunch on background, said Ethiopia’s internet stoppage was done to stop students from cheating on national exams, which took place this week. Earlier this week I attended Ethiopia’s ICT Expo and first Startup Ethiopia event, moderating and sitting on panels with Ethiopian go...

Other News / Science & Tech - 1 week ago

Africa Roundup: Jumia’s post-IPO earnings, Gokada’s $5.3M raise, Facebook’s fake-news purge, Joe Montana’s fintech investment

Jumia held its first post-IPO earnings call and weathered a short-sell assault in May, with Wall Street showing confidence in the Pan-African e-commerce company. On the numbers, key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) — the total amount of goods sold over the period — grew by 58% to €240 million. Marketplace revenue grew 102% to €16 million, and gross profits as a percentage of GMV grew by 6.5% in Q1 2019. Overall, Jumia’s operating losses for the period widened to €45.4 million from €34.3, and negative EBITDA increased to €39.5 million from €30.2. So the startup’s still losing money — see the big losses reported in the IPO filing — but is improving its ability to earn. CEO Sacha Poignonnec also shared a longer-term revenue strategy on Jumia’s Q1 earnings call. The startup plans to convert its JumiaPay and Jumia Logistics capabilities to standalone services across Africa. Founded in Lagos in 2012, the company currently operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries — from B2C consumer retail to travel bookings. For Jumia, going public has been an up and down affair. After becoming the first tech startup operating in Africa to list on a major exchange (the NYSE in April), the company saw its share rise 70% after listing on the NYSE in...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene

Jumia may be the first startup you’ve heard of from Africa. But the e-commerce venture that recently listed on the NYSE is definitely not the first or last word in African tech. The continent has an expansive digital innovation scene, the components of which are intersecting rapidly across Africa’s 54 countries and 1.2 billion people. When measured by monetary values, Africa’s tech ecosystem is tiny by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards. But when you look at volumes and year over year expansion in VC, startup formation, and tech hubs, it’s one of the fastest growing tech markets in the world. In 2017, the continent also saw the largest global increase in internet users—20 percent. If you’re a VC or founder in London, Bangalore, or San Francisco, you’ll likely interact with some part of Africa’s tech landscape for the first time—or more—in the near future. That’s why TechCrunch put together this Extra-Crunch deep-dive on Africa’s technology sector. Tech Hubs A foundation for African tech is the continent’s 442 active hubs, accelerators, and incubators (as tallied by GSMA). These spaces have become focal points for startup formation, digital skills building, events, and IT activity on the continent. Prominent tech hubs in Africa include CcHub in Nigeria, Pan-African in...

Other News / Science & Tech - 2 weeks ago

DHL brings Africa eShop to 20 countries in a competitive nod to Jumia

DHL is expanding its DHL Africa eShop business to 9 additional markets, upping the presence of the global shipping company’s e-commerce platform to 20 African countries. DHL went live with the digital retail app in April, bringing more than 200 U.S. and U.K. sellers — from Neiman Marcus to Carters — online to African consumers. Africa eShop operates using startup MallforAfrica.com’s white label fulfillment service, Link Commerce. Payment methods include local fintech options, such as Nigeria’s Paga and Kenya’s M-Pesa. DHL’s move to offer Africa eShop to 20 of the continent’s 54 countries comes a month after Africa’s most visible (and well-funded) e-tailer, Jumia, went public. Jumia — which operates consumer retail and online service verticals in 14 African countries — raised more than $200 million in an NYSE IPO. There’s a competitive e-commerce scenario brewing between the two platforms. DHL Africa eShop touts itself as “Africa’s Largest Online Shopping Platform.” Jumia said, “We believe that our platform is the largest e-commerce marketplace in Africa,” in its SEC F-1 filing. It’ll take a little more time to shake out the stats behind each company’s branding claims. DHL didn’t respond di...

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 weeks ago

Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz

In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxis are as common as yellow cabs in New York. That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business. Gokada has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT– approved helmets. The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh — a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle and car transportation company. For Gokada’s Series A, Rise Capital led the investment, joined by Adventure Capital, IC Global Partners and Illinois-based First MidWest Group. Coinciding with the round, Nigerian investor and Jobberman founder Ayodeji Adewunmi will join Gokada as co-CEO. Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride volume, while developing a network to offer goods and services to its drivers. “We’re going to start a Gokada club in each of the cities with a restaurant where drivers can relax, and we’ll experiment with a Gokada Shop, where drivers can get things they need on a regular basis, such as plantains, y...

Other News / Science & Tech - 3 weeks ago

These startups are locating in SF and Africa to win in global fintech

To become a global fintech player, locate your company in San Francisco and Africa. That’s the approach of payments company Flutterwave, digital lending startup Mines, and mobile-money venture Chipper Cash—Africa-founded ventures that maintain headquarters in San Francisco and operations in Africa to tap the best of both worlds in VC, developers, clients, and the frontier of digital finance. This arrangement wasn’t exactly coordinated across the ventures, but TechCrunch coverage picked up the trend and some common motives among these rising fintech firms. Founded in 2016 by Nigerians Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave has positioned itself as a global B2B payments solutions platform for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad. Clients can tap its APIs and work with Flutterwave developers to customize payments applications. Existing customers include Uber,  Booking.com and African e-commerce unicorn Jumia.com. The Y-Combinator backed company is headquartered in San Francisco, runs its operations center in Nigeria, and plans to add offices in South Africa and Cameroon. Flutterwave opened an office in Uganda in June and raised a $10 million Series A round in October. The company also plugged into ledger activity in 2018, becoming a p...

Other News / Science & Tech - 4 weeks ago

Facebook’s latest account purge exposes Africa’s misinformation problem

Facebook last week purged a network of hundreds of pages, groups and Instagram accounts it labeled as producing “coordinated inauthentic behavior” toward Africa. The activity originated in Israel and was largely targeted toward Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia. It was mostly political in nature and primarily paid for by Archemedes Group, a global political consulting firm, Facebook said. This isn’t the first case of social media platforms used as vehicles for political manipulation in Africa. Cambridge Analytica, the controversial big-data actor employed in Brexit and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory, was active on the continent before and after both events. On its recent Africa related deletions, Facebook said: The people behind this network used fake accounts to run Pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement. They also represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians. The Page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents. The activity took place over 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events...

LOAD MORE