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16 Startups Selected to Join Visa’s Diverse Second Cohort for Africa Fintech Accelerator Program

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16 Startups Selected to Join Visa's Diverse Second Cohort for Africa Fintech Accelerator Program

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Visa has unveiled the African startups selected to join the second round of its continent-wide Fintech Accelerator program.
 
The program offers a concentrated 12-week period of personalized training and one-on-one mentorship for seed and Series A startups.
 
Participants gain exclusive access to resources, development opportunities, and potential funding.

This year’s cohort boasts a wider geographical reach, with startups from 28 African countries participating.
 
This signifies a significant increase from the inaugural program, which included representatives from 18 nations.
 
Another noteworthy aspect is the rise in female leadership within the chosen startups.  The percentage of female-led companies jumped from 43% in the first edition to a commendable 65% in the second.

The selected startups tackle a variety of challenges and opportunities in the African fintech landscape.
 
Their solutions span neo-banking, merchant payments, credit scoring, risk and identity management, embedded finance, social commerce, and escrow services, to name a few.

“Visa is committed to fostering innovation while promoting financial inclusion and accessibility across the ecosystem,” said Aida Diarra, Visa’s Vice President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Launched in June 2023, the Visa Fintech Accelerator program aligns with Visa’s ongoing commitment to propel Africa’s digital economy. This commitment includes a $1 billion investment pledge by 2027 to revolutionize the continent’s payments landscape.

The virtual program culminates in a live Demo Day where startups showcase their innovations to key players in the ecosystem, potential investors, angel investors, and venture capitalists.
 
Below are the selected startups:
 
  • AzamPay (Tanzania): A B2B marketplace facilitating smoother transactions for businesses.
  • Beem (Tanzania): Engaged in social commerce, Beem is enhancing how businesses interact with their consumers through social media platforms.
  • Aku (Nigeria): A neo-banking platform providing innovative banking solutions.
  • Cleva (Nigeria): Focuses on efficient money movement solutions to enhance financial transactions.
  • Curacel (Nigeria): An insurance management startup that leverages technology to streamline claims and reduce fraud.
  • E-doc Online (Nigeria): Specializing in open banking, they facilitate secure sharing of financial information.
  • Raenest (Nigeria): Enhances money movement capabilities with their financial technology solutions.
  • Bridgecard (Nigeria): Provides infrastructure to enable various financial services.
  • Truzo (South Africa): Offers escrow services to secure transactions and enhance trust between parties.
  • Bizao (Ivory Coast): A merchant payments solution aimed at simplifying the payment processes for businesses.
  • Hub2 (Ivory Coast): Focuses on providing essential infrastructure to enable various fintech services.
  • Chapa (Ethiopia): Provides merchant solutions to enhance business transactions.
  • Vaultpay (Democratic Republic of Congo): Focuses on merchant payments to aid businesses in financial transactions.
  • Iwomi Technologies (Cameroon): Specializes in money movement to facilitate better transaction processes.
  • Proboutik (Cameroon): Another merchant payments solution aimed at improving business transactions.

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Congo to Build Central Africa’s  First Fibre Data Center for $72.8 Million

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Congo to Build Central Africa’s  First Fibre Data Center for $72.8 Million

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The Republic of Congo has embarked on a major project to construct a national data center in the Bacongo district of Brazzaville.
 

This three-story facility will store and process the country’s digital data, marking a significant step forward in the nation’s digital transformation.

The project is funded with a total of $72.8 million, with the African Development Bank (AfDB) contributing $57 million and the Congolese government providing $15.8 million.

Construction will include the installation of a 600-kilometre fibre optic cable network connecting Congo to neighboring Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

The data center, expected to be operational by December 2024, will feature dedicated server rooms, monitoring and supervision spaces, conference areas, and essential energy and air-conditioning equipment.

This initiative positions the Republic of Congo to become the first Central African nation with a sovereign data center.

“We will finally be able to host video conferences and store our data locally, eliminating reliance on servers in Europe or elsewhere,” stated Michael Ngakala, coordinator of the Central Africa Fibre-Optic Backbone Project.

Previously, Congolese data was often stored outside the country, leading to the use of domain name extensions like “.fr” or “.com” instead of the nation’s “.cg” designation.

The new data center will enable Congo to host all public data domestically, while also offering data storage and backup solutions for telecommunication companies, banks, insurance firms, and other private businesses.

This development is seen as a major step towards advancing Congo’s digital economy and bolstering its digital security through increased control over its data.

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Secha Capital Launches Training Initiative to Cultivate Business Leaders in Africa

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Secha Capital Launches Training Initiative to Cultivate Business Leaders in Africa

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African impact investor Secha Capital has announced the launch of the Junior Operator-Investor Network (JOIN) program.
 

This initiative aims to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical experience in business management, operations, and investment.

“We are proud to launch the JOIN program to develop a new generation of operator-investors in Africa,” said Tebogo Masekwameng, a principal at Secha Capital.

The program leverages the expertise of Secha’s network of investors, entrepreneurs, and operators to provide participants with real-world skills needed to excel in the green and tech-driven African economy.

JOIN targets individuals seeking careers that combine hands-on business experience with investment knowledge.

Secha Capital is a black, female-founded growth equity firm focused on Southern African companies transitioning towards a sustainable, technology-enabled future.

Applications for the inaugural JOIN cohort, starting in June 2024, are now open.
http://bit.ly/SechaJOIN0624Cohort

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Nigeria to Build 90,000km of Terrestrial Fibre-Optic

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Nigeria to Build 90,000km of Terrestrial Fibre-Optic

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Nigeria’s government has launched a series of ambitious initiatives aimed at transforming the country’s digital landscape, according to Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy Minister Bosun Tijani.
 

A critical component of the plan involves the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) tasked with overseeing the deployment of an additional 90,000 kilometers of fiber optic cabling.

This substantial investment will significantly bolster Nigeria’s national internet backbone, paving the way for nationwide internet access.

The announcement builds on a collaboration between the Nigerian government and the World Bank, previously revealed in March by Tijani, to secure $3 billion in funding for network expansion. Specific details regarding additional project funding were not disclosed.

Upon completion, Nigeria’s total fiber optic coverage is expected to jump from its current 35,000 kilometers to a minimum of 125,000 kilometers.

This expansion will solidify Nigeria’s position as Africa’s third-largest holder of terrestrial fiber optic backbone infrastructure, following Egypt and South Africa.

The enhanced network capacity is anticipated to unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s existing eight submarine cables.

With only 10% of their data capacity currently being utilized, this project is expected to significantly increase data utilization across the country.

Leveraging its existing partnership with the Broadband Alliance, improved internet connectivity will specifically target educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and social organizations, according to Tijani.

Over 200,000 such entities are expected to be connected, ensuring a wider segment of Nigerian society benefits from internet access.

Addressing the high cost of RoW is crucial to ensuring equitable access to essential broadband services for all Nigerians, particularly those in remote areas.

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Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Africa (2024)

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Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Africa (2024)

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The Financial Times has released its list of the top 20 fastest growing companies in Africa for 2024.
 

These companies have shown remarkable growth, driven primarily by organic means, and have made significant contributions to their respective industries.

Here’s a closer look at each company and what they do.

  1. Omniretail Inc. (Nigeria, E-commerce)

    • About: A leading online retail company in Nigeria, Omniretail Inc. provides a wide range of products, including electronics, fashion, and household items, through its robust e-commerce platform.
  2. Kyosk Digital (Mauritius, E-commerce)

    • About: Kyosk Digital specializes in providing digital solutions for retail logistics and supply chain management, helping small retailers streamline their operations and improve efficiency.
  3. Resourgenix Pty Ltd. (South Africa, Employment Services)

    • About: Resourgenix is a prominent employment services provider in South Africa, offering staffing solutions and workforce management services to various industries.
  4. Moniepoint Inc. (Nigeria, Fintech)

    • About: Moniepoint is a fintech company that offers mobile banking and payment solutions, aiming to provide financial inclusion for the unbanked population in Nigeria.
  5. Afex Commodities Exchange Ltd. (Nigeria, Fintech)

    • About: Afex operates Nigeria’s first private commodities exchange, facilitating trade and investment in agricultural products to improve market efficiency and farmer incomes.
  6. Chari.Co (Morocco, E-commerce)

    • About: Chari.Co is an e-commerce platform that supports small and medium-sized retailers in Morocco by providing access to a wide range of products at competitive prices.
  7. Enara Group (Egypt, Energy & Utilities)

    • About: Enara Group is an energy solutions provider in Egypt, focusing on renewable energy projects and utilities management to support the country’s sustainable development goals.
  8. Yellow Digital Retailers Ltd. (Mauritius, Energy & Utilities)

    • About: Yellow Digital Retailers offers affordable solar energy solutions to households and businesses in Mauritius, promoting the use of clean energy across the island.
  9. Kentegra Biotechnology Epz Ltd. (Kenya, Health Care)

    • About: Kentegra Biotechnology is a Kenyan biotech firm that develops and manufactures health care products, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices, to improve health outcomes.
  10. HearX Group Pty Ltd. (South Africa, Health Care)

    • About: HearX Group provides innovative hearing health solutions through digital platforms, offering services like hearing tests and affordable hearing aids.
  11. AfricaWorks (Mauritius, Real Estate)

    • About: AfricaWorks is a real estate company that offers flexible workspace solutions across Africa, catering to the needs of startups, freelancers, and established businesses.
  12. Mycredit Investments Ltd. (Nigeria, Fintech)

    • About: Mycredit Investments provides microloans and credit facilities to individuals and small businesses in Nigeria, helping them achieve financial stability and growth.
  13. Agro Supply Ltd. (Uganda, Agriculture)

    • About: Agro Supply is an agricultural company in Uganda that supports smallholder farmers by providing access to quality inputs, financing, and market linkages.
  14. Lapaire Glasses (Ivory Coast, Health Care)

    • About: Lapaire Glasses is a health care company that manufactures and distributes affordable prescription glasses, improving vision care accessibility in Ivory Coast.
  15. Deimos Cloud Pty Ltd. (South Africa, IT & Software)

    • About: Deimos Cloud offers cloud computing and IT services to businesses in South Africa, helping them leverage technology for improved efficiency and scalability.
  16. Alpha Morgan Capital Managers Ltd. (Nigeria, Fintech)

    • About: Alpha Morgan Capital is an investment firm in Nigeria that provides asset management, investment advisory, and financial planning services.
  17. Balancell Energy Pty Ltd. (South Africa, Manufacturing)

    • About: Balancell Energy specializes in the development and manufacturing of advanced energy storage solutions, including batteries and power management systems.
  18. Thrive Agric Ltd. (Nigeria, Agriculture)

    • About: Thrive Agric is an agricultural technology company in Nigeria that connects farmers with investors to provide the necessary capital and resources for increased productivity.
  19. Bisedge Ltd. (Nigeria, Logistics & Transportation)

    • About: Bisedge is a logistics and transportation company in Nigeria that offers supply chain management services, focusing on efficiency and reliability.
  20. Evolution Foods International Pty Ltd. (South Africa, Food & Beverages)

    • About: Evolution Foods is a food and beverage company in South Africa that produces a range of healthy and innovative food products for the local and international markets. 

 

Methodology

According to the Financial Times, the ranking was based on a combination of factors including:

      • Public data research by Statista to identify potential candidates.
      • Company applications with revenue figures verified by senior leadership.
      • Minimum revenue thresholds for 2019 and 2022 to ensure financial viability.
      • Focus on companies with organic (internal) revenue growth.
      • Verification and data cleaning by Statista to ensure accuracy.

Here is the full report – https://www.ft.com/content/a1bc5d2e-046e-499b-b27e-4d057f9d8477?ref=

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MTN Rwanda Launches Biodegradable SIM Cards in Environmental Push

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MTN Rwanda Launches Biodegradable SIM Cards in Environmental Push

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MTN Rwanda is taking a groundbreaking step towards environmental responsibility with the launch of the nation’s first-ever paper-based, biodegradable SIM cards, dubbed “bioSIMs.”
 
This initiative marks a significant addition to the company’s sustainability efforts, aligning with Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy and the broader environmental goals of the MTN Group.

The telecom industry faces growing pressure to address its environmental impact.
 
With an estimated 4.5 billion plastic SIM cards produced in 2020 alone and a staggering 430 million tons of plastic waste generated annually, the need for eco-friendly alternatives is undeniable.
 
Biodegradable SIM cards are a recent innovation, and MTN Rwanda is among the frontrunners in embracing this technology.

These bioSIMs offer a solution by naturally decomposing over time, minimizing their environmental footprint.
 
They are crafted from 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, guaranteeing responsible sourcing of raw materials.
 
MTN Rwanda’s commitment extends beyond the SIM card itself, with the company optimizing packaging to further reduce its ecological impact.

Mapula Bodibe, CEO of MTN Rwanda, hailed the launch as a milestone in the company’s 25-year journey. “We aim to set a precedent for responsible business practices,” Bodibe said, “encouraging other industries to join us in building a greener future for Rwanda and beyond.”

The bioSIM launch is part of MTN Rwanda’s wider sustainability strategy, “Project Zero.”
 
The initiative includes transitioning a significant portion of their fleet to hybrid vehicles and installing solar panels at data centers.
 
These efforts contribute to the ambitious goal of the MTN Group – achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

While no timeframe for widespread bioSIM availability has been announced, the launch signifies a promising step in MTN Rwanda’s environmental leadership, setting a positive example for businesses across the region.

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South Africa Launches First Military-Focused AI Hub in Africa

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South Africa Launches First Military-Focused AI Hub in Africa

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South Africa took a significant step towards integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its national defense and security with the launch of the Defence Artificial Intelligence Research Unit (DAIRU).
 

The initiative, spearheaded by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies in collaboration with the Department of Defence, establishes DAIRU as the fourth hub under the Artificial Intelligence Institute of South Africa (AIISA).

This development positions South Africa at the forefront of AI research for military applications, aligning with the global trend of utilizing AI in defense operations.

The launch coincides with the National AI Summit held on May 5, 2024, where the importance of regulations for responsible AI development was emphasized.

The draft National AI Plan, shared during the summit, will undergo a pre-policy process to gather public and industry feedback before submission for official approval.

Lieutenant General Michael Ramantswana, Chief of Staff of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), hailed the DAIRU launch as a crucial milestone.

He stressed the importance of not only adopting existing AI technologies but also fostering innovation within the SANDF. Collaboration and resource sharing were highlighted as key factors in accelerating AI implementation.

DAIRU is expected to address critical needs in areas like AI capacity development, cyber defense, maritime and border security, countering illicit activities, and enhancing operational efficiency for the SANDF.

The initiative aligns with the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (PC4IR) recommendations, recognizing AI as a transformative force for both societal and economic progress.

This development in South Africa’s AI landscape paves the way for utilizing this powerful technology to strengthen national security and contribute to broader socioeconomic advancement.

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African Biotech Startup Syndicate Bio and SOPHiA GENETICS Partner to Improve Access to Cancer Diagnostics in Africa

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African Biotech Startup Syndicate Bio and SOPHiA GENETICS Partner to Improve Access to Cancer Diagnostics in Africa

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Nigerian biotech company Syndicate Bio has partnered with SOPHiA GENETICS, a leader in cloud-based healthcare software to improve access to advanced cancer diagnostics in Africa,
 

This collaboration aims to address the critical need for wider availability of comprehensive genomic profiling and liquid biopsy testing across the continent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in February 2023 that Africa faces a significant cancer burden, with an estimated 1.1 million new cases diagnosed annually and roughly 700,000 deaths.

Data suggests this number could rise to nearly one million deaths per year by 2030 without decisive interventions.

Through this partnership, Syndicate Bio will offer cutting-edge liquid biopsy testing, a minimally invasive approach that can benefit patients who currently lack access to traditional diagnostic methods or have to travel outside Africa for testing.

“Our collaboration with SOPHiA GENETICS is focused on enabling the widespread use of precision medicine in oncology across Africa,” said Abasi Ene-Obong, Founder of Syndicate Bio.

“We believe this will significantly improve patient outcomes on the continent.”

Ene-Obong elaborated on the potential of the partnership, stating, “By combining Syndicate Bio’s scientific expertise with SOPHiA GENETICS’ AI-powered technologies and data-driven solutions, we have a unique opportunity to revolutionize cancer care in Africa. This includes non-invasive cancer analysis, predictive genetic testing, and the implementation of effective precision medicine strategies.”

SOPHiA GENETICS recognizes the far-reaching impact of this partnership. The company’s Chief Medical Officer acknowledges that Syndicate Bio’s implementation will not only benefit Africa but also contribute to a comprehensive dataset that will provide valuable insights for shaping the future of global healthcare.

Syndicate Bio, launched in September 2023 by former leaders of African genomics startup 54gene, is dedicated to driving advancements in genomics and precision medicine initiatives, with a primary focus on Africa.

In October 2023, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigeria’s National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to establish a foundation for transformative genomic studies.

This collaboration aims to gain a deeper understanding of diseases prevalent in Nigeria and identify potential targets for drug discovery. NIMR will play a crucial role in ensuring ethical oversight throughout the research process.

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CatalyzU and Future Africa Launch “How to Startup” Fellowship to Empower African Entrepreneurs

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CatalyzU and Future Africa Launch "How to Startup" Fellowship to Empower African Entrepreneurs

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CatalyzU, a tech-driven platform that supports African talent, has partnered with Future Africa, a pan-African venture capital firm, to launch the “How to Startup” Fellowship.
 

This seven-week online program equips aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to build successful businesses in Africa.

The program kicks off on May 23, 2024, and applications close on May 14. It targets startup founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, startup employees, and corporate innovators seeking to launch ventures within Africa.

Developed by experienced African founders and venture capitalists, the fellowship promises an immersive learning experience beyond traditional entrepreneurship education.

Participants will receive hands-on training, live learning sessions, and gain insights from real-world case studies, all designed to address the unique challenges and opportunities of the African startup landscape.

The curriculum covers essential aspects of building a startup, including idea validation, minimum viable product creation, navigating legal and financial hurdles, and fundraising strategies.

The program boasts renowned instructors like Iyinoluwa E. Aboyeji, Co-founder of Andela, Flutterwave, and Future Africa, and Mia Koschitzky-Kimani, Managing Partner at Future Africa and Co-founder of DukaConnect.

Upon completion, graduates join the Young African Catalyst network, a community of over 200 African founders and VCs, offering ongoing support and potential partnerships.

“We’re thrilled to empower the next generation of African startups,” said Karl Nchite, Co-founder and CEO of CatalyzU. “Africa’s entrepreneurial scene is vibrant and rapidly growing.

By providing practical experiences and access to industry leaders, we equip entrepreneurs to turn innovative ideas into thriving businesses.”

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until spots are filled. This initiative follows CatalyzU’s rebranding in July 2023 and its acceptance into Techstars Toronto alongside other startups from Canada and emerging markets.

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