[Africa Tech Review] Duncan Mochama: Consumer Appetite for Digital Payments Takes Off in Africa
As the world went into pandemic lockdown in 2020, consumers in Africa shifted their spending habits to embrace contactless tap-and-go payments and online shopping.
As stores closed and social distancing took hold, retailers worldwide moved their businesses online, embraced e-commerce, and explored the potential of new ways to pay. In countries like Kenya, the adoption of new payment technologies is rising, and consumer appetite for new, fast and flexible digital experiences continues to grow according to new research released by MasterCard this week.
Mastercard unveiled this research just a few days after it announced a new investment in Rwandan female-focused eCommerce platform Kasha.Combining online and offline capabilities, Kasha’s platform allows women across rural and urban locations to make confidential personal care orders.
This week, Microsoft also detailed several projects aimed at intensifying Nigeria's move to become a more digital economy. Still in Nigeria, Airtel announced the appointment of C. Surendran as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria with effect from August 1. The Federal Government also approved the extension of the deadline for National Identity Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification to the 30th of June, 2021.Thomson Reuters and Adapt IT announced a new collaboration to enable more businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain competitive advantages through the technology solutions both provide.
We also covered news on a number of African startups this week. Kenyan digital banking platform and fintech company Kwara was selected for the first cohort of the Ninja Accelerator programme. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expanded the accelerator program (NINJA Accelerator) to Kenya back in February. Another Kenyan startup Lami Technologies, which aims to democratize insurance products and services for low-income Kenyans raised $1.8 million in seed funding. Atlanta-based startup Outsource Monetic announced that it has officially commenced commercial and technical operations in West and Central Africa. South African fintech enabler, Ukheshe Technologies, announced the appointment of Anton Coertzen as President of Strategic Partnerships.
This week, Google also announced a new programme to offer new scholarships for Android, Web and Google Cloud development to developers across Africa. The programme will be offered in partnership with tech talent companies Pluralsight and Andela. At the same time Vodafone and Google Cloud also announced a new, six-year strategic partnership to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics. We have a whole column about what this means for Africa. You can read about it here.
After rebranding from Liquid Telecom to Liquid Intelligent Technologies Group, the company has spent this week unveiling its new identity in the countries it operates in. The company started with Uganda and Zambia on Thursday. The company says it’s transforming from just being a telecommunications and digital services provider to a full one-stop-shop technology group.
MTN was also in the news this week. The telco announced it will begin its first commercial installation of Supersonic AirFibre on May 3rd in South Africa. In Rwanda, the company became the first mobile network operator to list its shares on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE). It also released its first quarter results announcing a strong and resilient operational and financial performance with growth in service revenue exceeding medium-term guidance, driven by gains in data and fintech revenue.
Last month Twitter finally announced that it is coming to Africa. The social media company said it was setting up a new office in Ghana which will serve as its African headquarters. This it said is also in line with its growth strategy. And now reports now indicate that Twitter CEO and Founder Jack Dorsey will settle in Ghana for six months to help set up the new office.
Other top highlights of the week include Vodacom unveiling a package to connect jobseekers to employment opportunities, and Ayoba, the African messaging app, launching a new version of its Android app (0.38) which offers users access to voice and video calling.