What happens when you leave four journalists with differing opinions and a podcasting machine in a room? The Techpoint Africa Podcast, that's what.
If you are an avid listener, then you've probably not missed the last three episodes where we've discussed everything from hope as a service to why there seems to be a lot of white founders in Kenya. You can catch up on all of that here, with links to all your favourite streaming platforms.
This week's podcast takes you on a continental tour, beginning with Nigeria, going on to Kenya, and then Sudan and Uganda.
First on the list is the recent news of the Kogi Internal Revenue Service (KIRS) sealing 70 telecom base stations, including hub sites that serve as connecting points for other states. From what we've learned so far, the KIRS believes it is owed certain levies and dues by telecom companies and has received a court order legitimising its actions.
Why is this important, though? Turns out this could lead to a telecommunications blackout, not just in Kogi State — a state in Nigeria's North Central region — but in nine other states bordering Kogi, including Abuja, Nasarawa, and Ondo.
There was quite a bit to unpack here, ranging from states and their penchant for interesting policies to enabling business environments — which appear to be the very last thing on the states' minds. We also found an interesting titbit that put everything in perspective, which you can find here.
Fun fact: In 2021, Kogi State generated ₦23,266,375,259 ($56 million) internally. This is almost double the amount it received from Nigeria's federal government.
Moving on from Kogi State and its internally generated revenue drama is the news of Meta (formally Facebook) and Kenya's August 2022 elections.
To enhance transparency in political advertising, Meta is introducing its transparency tool for electoral and issue ads that will provide more information about political advertising on Facebook and Instagram ahead of the elections.
Essentially, the ads will have a "paid for by…" banner and be stored on Meta's Ad Library for seven years.
Another fun fact: Meta introduced this tool in Nigeria's 2019 elections.
But Emmanuel Paul believes there's a big picture here that needs to be examined. "I'm just seeing a dystopian future and I don't know why I'm so pessimistic," he says
Big tech seems to be getting bigger and bigger every day. He argues that Meta's decision could have other implications we might not be seeing, like bias or possible influence on elections. But not everyone agrees with him. We had an interesting discussion during the podcast, which nicely segued into our last story: Y Combinator's (YC) unusual interest in certain African countries.
This year's YC Demo Day was held from March 29 to March 30, 2022, with Nigeria topping the list of countries after the US and India. But that's not the story here.
This year's batch includes African countries like Sudan, Uganda. Interestingly this is not the first time YC is investing in startups outside the Big Four as we saw with Senegal's Wave, but it is indicative of a growing interest in East and North Africa.
On the face of it, that appears to be a good thing. A startup getting into YC is one of the greatest validators there is. But this also raises the question of the supposed silence of the local investment scene in these countries and the long-term effects this could have on the economy.
The circular nature of Africa's economic problems also play a role here as well. For example, with increasing forex sourcing problems, Nigerian banks have reduced dollar spending limits on naira debit cards.
We discussed all of this and more, including ways for you to circumvent the current dollar spending limits. You can listen below or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts (search for "Techpoint Africa Podcast"). Also tweet at us with your favourite snippets from the podcast using the hashtag, #TechpointAfricaPodcast.