Much ado about crypto, Korean electric cars, YC’s first Ivorian startup

February 08, 2021 · 4 min read

Good day,

Múyìwá Mátùlúkò here

Today we are discussing

  • Central Bank of Nigeria vs cryptocurrency
  • Electric vehicles coming to Nigeria and Apple
  • Y Combinator’s first startup from Cote d’Ivoire

CBN vs cryptocurrency

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Since 2017, Nigeria’s apex bank had a passive stance on cryptocurrency. But things are changing in 2021.

You are probably aware by now that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned financial institutions from facilitating cryptocurrency-related transactions. This means that while Nigerians are still free exchange cryptocurrency peer-to-peer, they can no longer exchange fiat currencies for digital currencies. Partaking in cryptocurrency will become extremely difficult for the average joe.

The big picture. According to Paxful, Nigeria is second only to the US in global Bitcoin trading. Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency in the world by a wide margin

During the nationwide #EndSARS protests in 2020 against police brutality, the CBN allegedly blocked bank accounts of activist groups so, many protesters switched to anonymous Bitcoin donations. Also, in 2020 alone, Nigerians traded well over $400m worth of crypto. In the wake of the protests, a number of frontliners either had their accounts frozen, passports seized or were detained

So for many Nigerians, this seemingly new CBN directive is extremely dubious. Just last night, the CBN attempted to justify its decision in an official statement that can simply be summarised, “China and other countries did it too, we are only trying to protect you”.

Meanwhile, Arise TV reports that the restriction was motivated by intel from the FBI about online scammers using cryptocurrency to siphon ill-gotten money back to Nigeria. The CBN, however, does not acknowledge the FBI’s involvement in its official statement.

Read further: What the CBN’s crypto order means for you going forward.

Hyundai and Kia’s electric cars

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Last Friday, Director-General of Nigeria’s IT regulator, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi unveiled what is being touted as “Nigeria’s first electric car” in the country’s capital city of Abuja. You may recall that Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu also unveiled the same car in Lagos in November 2020.

“First electric car”? Not quite. To put it accurately, the Hyundai Kona Electric is actually the first electric car to be assembled in Nigeria. And as the name gives away, it is not of Nigerian origin, but this tweet gives design credit to the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC).

Quick facts about Kona Electric

  • Assembled in Nigeria by Stallion Group.
  • Nigeria will be the 7th country – after South Korea, Czech Republic, China, India, Vietnam and Algeria – where it is assembled. 
  • Can be charged at home (slow) or specialised stations (fast); charging time ranges from 1 hour to 59 hours, depending on the method.
  • Can travel 482km on a single full charge.
  • Will set you back ₦24 million ($60,000) in Nigeria.

It might not be far-fetched that the Nigerian version was designed by the NADDC – they have rock star automotive designer, Jelani Aliyu at the helm of affairs – but it remains to be seen.

In other related news, if you noticed Kia Motor’s shares spike recently on the US stock market, it’s because the South Korean automaker just sealed a deal to build electric cars for Apple by 2024.

Dive deeper: The state of Nigeria’s automotive industry and its far-reaching effects.

Y Combinator backs its first Ivorian startup, Djamo?

Image by David Peterson from Pixabay

Last week, TechCrunch announced Ivorian fintech startup, Djamo as the first Cote d’Ivoire based startup to be backed by US-based accelerator, Y Combinator (YC).

Djamo is reportedly part of YC’s Winter 2021 batch but, as of this publication, I can’t find it on the accelerator’s Startup Directory. I am willing to chalk that up to an honest oversight. Anyway, you can learn more about what Djamo does by reading the article.

Why it’s a big deal. YC is widely regarded as the world’s most successful early-stage startup accelerator. Nearly every startup it touches turns to gold; so far, at least 125 of them are valued at $150m and above.

Household names like Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit and Stripe are all YC alumni. So are Nigeria’s Paystack – which was recently acquired by Stripe for over $200m – and Flutterwave, YC’s most valued African startup. So far, 40 African startups have made it to YC, but Djamo will be only the second with at least one Francophone-African founder.

Digging deeper. It’s no competition but, as far as West African startups go, Francophone West Africa is quite the underdog. According to the West African Startup Decade Report, of the 51 West African startups that each raised over $1m over the past decade (2010 to 2019), only two are of Francophone origin.

Beyond funding, the region’s tech ecosystem is generally perceived to be lagging behind its Anglophone counterpart, for reasons ranging from market readiness to language barriers.

But in all fairness, things are starting to look up. You should definitely read “How Francophone Africa tech players are breaking down barriers in search of recognition.”

Stuff that made my weekend

  • This 26-year-old from Jos built arguably Nigeria’s first sports car. Watch.
  • Reddit vs Wallstreet – GameStop, The Movie. Watch.
  • Elon Musk Interview: 1-on-1 with Sandy Munro. Watch.

Have a great day!

Múyìwá Mátùlúkò for Techpoint Africa.

Techpoint Africa

Techpoint Africa


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