Ethiopia takes on Facebook, Facebook Marketplace expansion, EcoCash users to pay more, acquires

August 25, 2021 · 4 min read
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Good day,

Chimgozirim here,

What we’re discussing today:

  • Ethiopia takes on Facebook, others
  • Facebook launches Marketplace in 37 African countries
  • EcoCash users to pay more
  • acquires

Ethiopia to build local alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp

Social media apps

The Ethiopian government plans to build local alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and the video conferencing platform, Zoom.

Since last year, Ethiopia has been involved in an armed conflict between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The conflict has seen supporters of both sides take to social media to show support and push each party’s agenda. 

Shumete Gizaw, Director-General of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), has accused Facebook of deleting accounts and posts that were “disseminating the true reality of Ethiopia.”

Referencing China, Gizaw asked rhetorically, “Why do you think China uses WeChat?” This reference to WeChat is troubling as the platform is widely considered a tool for monitoring the Chinese people and could indicate the real purpose of these plans. 

He also disclosed that the country would use local talents to build these platforms.

In the past year, the Ethiopian government has shut down access to Internet services, drawing the ire of local and international observers. 

Suggested read: Sub-Saharan Africa lost $237.4 million to Internet censorship in 2020 

Ethiopia’s desire to build local alternatives to existing social media platforms is not surprising. As more Africans have begun acquiring smartphones, social media has become an outlet for them to speak out against political authorities, with several governments moving to limit or stop the use of these platforms. 

Countries like Uganda and Nigeria have had various forms of social media-regulating bills floated. Ethiopia’s move to build its local platforms is, however, a bold move and seems like a desperate action by the government to control information in the country. 

Facebook Marketplace launches in 37 African countries

Good news: Yesterday, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Marketplace in 37 sub-Saharan African countries and territories, including Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

Until now, Facebook Marketplace was only available in four African countries — South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria. 

Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa, commenting on the launch, said, “Increasing the availability of Marketplace to 37 more countries and territories in sub-Saharan Africa reinforces our ongoing commitment to helping connect communities and support buying and selling through one simple online destination.”

Facebook Marketplace marked the social media giant’s entrance into the eCommerce space as it allows Facebook users to buy and sell items in their immediate community. In its early days, some users exploited the platform to sell drugs and guns, leading Facebook to add filters to increase security. 

More charges for EcoCash users

Users of EcoCash, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile money platform, will pay more in transaction fees from Sunday, September 19, 2021, after the company received approval from regulatory bodies.

After its last review of transaction charges in January 2021, users will pay about 10% more when making transactions. Per The Herald, EcoCash subscribers will pay $9.38 when sending $100 to a registered user, up from the previous charge of $8.01.

Also, consumers buying Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) electricity tokens will pay $9, up from $7.76,  while those buying goods valued at $100 will pay $8.91, up from the previous charge of $7.71. However, charges on transactions above $3,000 will not increase with users continuing to pay charges of 1.91% for sending money and 1.85% for making bill and merchant payments. acquires Co-Founders, Sophia Alj and Ismael Belkhayat

Moroccan eCommerce startup, has announced the acquisition of mobile credit book application, for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2020 by Sophia Alj and Ismael Belkhayat, Chari is an eCommerce platform for traditional retailers that allows them to order and receive goods within a day. 

In July, it became the first Moroccan startup to get into Y Combinator and raised money from Orange Ventures and Plug and Play. is a phone-based credit book app that allows traditional convenience stores to manage loans given to their customers. Using an app that is available on the Google Play Store, retailers can record loans which they can then share with their debtors, making it easier to collect the loans. Already, the startup claims to have onboarded 15,000 active stores across Morocco.

Explaining the rationale behind the acquisition, Belkhayat said, “ users are the right target for Chari. We believe there can be many synergies between the two apps, and we want to grow both in parallel with the end goal of starting to offer financial services to all of our customers.”

What I’m reading

Watch How China Handles Afghanistan. Read.

How to foster powerful relationships in a virtual world. Read.


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Chimgozirim Nwokoma

Chimgozirim Nwokoma


Accidental writer, covering Africa's startup landscape and its heroes. Find me on Twitter @chigo_nwokoma.

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