[Africa Tech Week] Duncan Mochama: African fintech startups are attracting a lot of attention from investors
This has been a very interesting week for African fintech startups. In our last Africa tech review article, we highlighted how these startups are now diversifying to offer a wide range of complementary services. This week has not been different. In Kenya, Wapi Pay has raised $2.2 Million in pre-seed funding to scale up global payments and remittances between Africa and Asia. Another Kenyan fintech startup Cellulant successfully rolled out Tingg, a digital payments platform enabling businesses and their consumers to accept and make payments seamlessly in Ghana.
Still on startups, Bolt this week raised €600M in a Series E funding round led by Sequoia Capital. This fund now increases the company’s valuation to more than $4.75. Naspers, through its early-stage tech investment vehicle Naspers Foundry, also announced that it has invested $8.3 million (R120 million) in Naked, a South African artificial intelligence (AI)-driven insurtech startup that offers full digital insurance to cars, homes, and valuables. Twenty-five African female-founded tech startups were also selected for the second edition of The Future is Female Mentorship Program. This is a PR and communications mentorship program dedicated exclusively to African female tech founders.
A number of new appointments were also made this week. Telkom South Africa announced the appointment of Serame Taukobong as Group CEO Designate with effect from 01 October 2021.Ola Williams has been announced as the new Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria while IBM named Saad Toma as General Manager in the Middle East and Africa regions. SAP Africa appointed Tracy Bolton as its new Chief Operating Officer for the Africa region. Bolton, a 25-year IT industry veteran who has held several leadership positions at SAP over the past nine years, will be squarely focused on customers’ success.
Microsoft, through its 4Afrika initiative, this week partnered with the IFC to make digital tools and training resources more accessible to small-scale farmers, and agriculture-linked small businesses, to support digital transformation in Africa's agribusiness sector, modernize supply chains and boost farmers' productivity and incomes.
On matters cloud, Google Cloud and SAP SE announced an expanded strategic partnership to help customers execute business transformations, migrate critical business systems to the cloud, and augment existing business systems with Google Cloud capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). A recent report also highlighted how Africa needs 700 data centre facilities to meet growing demand for capacity and density in today’s digitally-driven operating environment. This is easier said than done given the power, land, and water requirements of modern data centres. And yet, this has become a non-negotiable at a time when cloud adoption has accelerated and become a top business priority.
This week, Orange announced that its customers will now be able to accelerate their digital transformation with higher-capacity satellite connectivity services provided jointly by SES Networks and Orange. Kaspersky also released a new report showing that the overall number of financial malware attacks in Kenya has decreased in the first half of 2021, when compared to the same period in 2020, 29.3% of the 7 962 attacks recorded in the country targeted corporate users. Another cybersecurity firm Sophos also acquired Refactr, which develops and markets a versatile DevSecOps automation platform that bridges the gap between DevOps and cybersecurity.
Other top highlights of the week include Infobip partnering with Senegal mobile operator Expresso to provide WhatsApp-based customer communication services, SITA announcing a new technology deployment offering passengers enhanced check-in and bag drop self-services with Ethiopian Airlines at Bole International Airport (ADD) and The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) disbursing its Export-IT’s cash rebate on ICT exports of the local ICT companies.