See you in 2024

·
December 29, 2023
·
4 min read
2023/2024

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Bonjour,

Here's what I've got for you today:

  • 4 stories you missed this week
  • Some interesting stories in 2023...

4 stories you missed this week

electric BRT

One: MaxAB, an Egyptian B2B eCommerce startup, and Wasoko, a Kenyan eCommerce startup, have agreed to a preliminary merger.

Wasoko and MaxAB, arguably Africa's largest tech merger, will have over 450,000 merchants as a combined customer base, providing essential goods to over 65 million local consumers in eight African countries.

Wasoko works with over 200,000 shop owners in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MaxAB, on the other hand, serves more than 150,000 shop owners in Egypt and Morocco.

Two: Beginning in January 2024, people in Dakar, Senegal, will have access to Africa’s first all-electric Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses. This move will reduce Dakar's transportation-related carbon footprint and lead to cleaner air.

The BRT route will connect 23 stations and 14 of the city's most populated districts from north to south via four lines — three express or semi-express lines and one 'omnibus' line.

The BRT system's designated bus-only lanes, fixed routes and stops, and predictable timetables will benefit up to 320,000 commuters daily, ensuring a comfortable and safe ride.

Zoom out: Early in the year, Kenya received $377.8 million (Sh50 billion) from a consortium of European agencies to build a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) lane in Nairobi to ease traffic congestion.

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Three: Airtel Kenya plans to invest over KSh 23 billion ($146.496 million) in the network expansion drive to increase its network infrastructure and the size of its customer base.

According to Ashish Malhotra, Airtel Kenya CEO, the company will build up to 1,000 network sites in 2024 and expand its 5G network coverage from 450 to 600 sites.

The company intends to add 25 more 5G sites across the country before the end of 2023, bringing the total to 475.

Four: The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has announced plans to develop a new regulatory framework to address Nigerians' rising indebtedness to loan apps.

Debt has become a major issue because Nigerian borrowers on these platforms have been defaulting on their loans.

So, in 2024, the regulator will build a central location where loan applications can receive information about individuals and their creditworthiness.

Some interesting stories in 2023

Money pouring on someone's hand like rain. Used to depict a naira float, following the country's announcement

Even though 2023 was a busy year, I was particularly interested in a few startups that, despite raising money, failed due to a lack of funding or other factors.

One is a Nigerian fintech company, Zazuu. It announced its closure in November 2023 after raising $2.2 million. The following month, another fintech startup, Pivo, shut down one year after raising $2 million.

Another occurred in March 2023 when Naspers closed Foundry, its technology investment fund focusing in South Africa, to streamline its business as venture capital declined globally.

Meanwhile, one story that made me sad was OkadaBook’s closure. This could be because I used the platform when I was younger. On November 30, 2023, the Nigerian digital publishing and bookselling platform shut down, citing difficult macroeconomic conditions.

Nonetheless, the Sama-Meta drama was one I couldn’t keep up with this year. To refresh your memory, 184 content moderators sued Meta and Sama, a San Francisco-based subcontractor promoting itself as an ethical AI company, to work in its hub in Nairobi.

The moderators were seeking $1.6 billion in compensation, alleging poor working conditions, including insufficient mental health support and low pay.

Further, one startup I don’t think I get is MarketForce, and this is why: In October 2023, the Kenyan B2B eCommerce platform downscaled its operations in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Rwanda to focus on Kenya and Uganda. It also halted its plans to expand into Ethiopia and Ghana via a partnership with Cellulant.

In August 2023, the company started a community fundraising campaign to raise $1 million. But the startup raised $2 million in July 2021 and $40 million in February 2022.

After slashing its headcount by 9% as a part of a reorganisation strategy in the country in July 2022, MarketForce announced it had reduced the number of routes it covered from 700 to 400 to improve efficiency in May 2023.

Earlier this month, Kenyan fintech startup Pezesha submitted a petition to liquidate MarketForce due to “outstanding debts.” Do you see why I do not understand what is going on with the company?

Moving on, one unexpected story for me this year was Payday’s acquisition by Bitmama six months after the cross-border platform raised $3 million.

More highlights of our coverage this year included the Patricia-hack reports, Copia Global suspending operations in Uganda to grow its Kenyan market, Chipper Cash terminating employees four times in a single year, KloudCommerce's demise, Lazerpay’s shutdown five months after laying off employees in November 2022, and Jumia Food shutting down in seven African markets.

Well, I am enthusiastic about 2024 and hope that the market and economic conditions will favour founders and teams so they can maximise their investment.

In case you missed it

What I'm watching

Opportunities   

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Enjoy your last weekend of the year, 2023!

Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.

She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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