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7 - 11 - 2018

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MTN Rwanda is looking to raise about $56 million in debt financing from local banks in the country. The funds will be used to upgrade its network infrastructure and to extend it across the country. This is expected to improve the quality of its service and to help retain customers. However, the funding request is subject to approval by MTN Rwanda's board which will meet to discuss it soon. The telco is facing competition from Airtel Rwanda which recently acquired Tigo thereby displacing it as the market leader. Also, recall that Airtel Africa recently raised a $1.25 billion pre-IPO funding. MTN has been poaching management executives from Airtel. It hired the latter's Chief Technology Information Officer, Fabrice Ndatira in August. Before then, it also recruited Chantal Umutoni Kagame, Deputy CEO at Airtel as Chief Business and Corporate Affairs Officer. MTN is looking to regain market dominance despite regulatory setbacks. MTN Rwanda was slammed with an $8.5 million fine in 2017 for breaching license guidelines and recently the Group has been facing issues in Nigeria, one of its key markets. Although Airtel Rwanda currently looks like it has the upper hand, MTN Rwanda appears determined to win the battle.

Visa has appointed Aida Diarra as Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for Sub-saharan Africa. Diarra will oversee Visa's operations in forty-eight markets across Sub-Saharan Africa. Before Visa, she was Regional Vice President for Africa & Managing Director at Western Union for over four years.

Private equity firm, Ethos has launched a R1.2 billion fund for AI startups in South Africa. The firm has raised R600 million out of the target fund. Some of the investors in the AI fund are Ethos Capital and Standard Bank. The fund has so far invested in Channel VAS (fintech) and Vertice MedTech Group (healthtech).
Music streaming service, Boomplay, has signed a multi-year agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG). Under the agreement, Boomplay will distribute music from UMG's labels in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia via its platform. UMG recently launched Universal Music Nigeria in July to boost its presence in West Africa.

SA startups, Last Mile for BOP, Mobile Schools Health and VIA Global Health have made it into the second cohort of the MAN Impact Accelerator in Germany. The accelerator supports social ventures in the field of mobility, transport, and logistics. The accelerator is run by vehicle manufacturer, MAN and Yunus Social Business.

Saafricom has launched MPesa Global, a money transfer and remittance service in partnership with Western Union. The service will allow anyone in the world send money to any MPesa customer in Kenya and vice versa. MPesa has 21 million active users while Western Union has 500,000 agents.

Uber Eats is looking to increase its workforce in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EMEA) as part of its plans to increase market share amidst local rivals. Number of staff in EMEA will increase from 300 to 900 in 2019. While Uber Eats represents 10% of Uber's bookings, it doesn't have the user base that competitors like Just Eat and Deliveroo have.

Digital credit platform, Mines.io, is looking for an Application Support Analyst. Interested candidates will need to have 1-3 years related work experience with some spent in customer support or application support. See other requirements and apply here.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Romeo Kumalo (former Vodacom Group exec.) has started a tech-focused South African investment firm. The firm, called LLH Capital Ltd., will raise $200m in an IPO next year and will invest in internet-related businesses and industries such as drones and car tracking. More details on the fund are expected in Q1 2019. These are interesting times for SA startups in terms of funding. Last month, Naspers also announced plans to invest $314m in SA startups over the next three years.

During Bloomberg's New Economy Forum this week, Strive Masiyiwa, Econet's CEO, implied that Africa's telecoms infrastructure relies heavily on China's ZTE. Masiyiwa said "if Trump managed to shut down China's ZTE, half the telecoms infrastructure in Africa would have shut down within 60 days".  It is unclear what infrastructure Masiyiwa is referring to but ZTE is a provider of network elements such as base stations etc. It is also tough to verify ZTE's market share in Africa outside mobile phones but a good number of its customers are outside China. During the 2000s, majority were mobile network operators in developing countries, according to Wikipedia. Masiyiwa's statement leaves its readers with many questions than there are answers.

You are invited to TC Townhall, Fintech 2.0, holding in partnership with Softcom on November 30. The forum will take a look at the next generation of financial technologies in Nigeria. Speakers include Adia Sowho (MD, Mines.io), Gbenga Agboola (CEO, Flutterwave), Titi Odunfa (MD, Sankore Investments), Dr. Yinka David West (Academic Director, LBS), Yvonne Johnson (fintech angel investor) and Yomi Adedeji (CEO, Softcom). Limited seats are available, signup here to be notified when registrations go live.

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