Planned telecoms union strike called off…for now

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April 5, 2024
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7 min read
Many tech workers spend long hours sitting and working on their laptops
Many tech workers spend long hours sitting and working on their laptops

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Privet,

Victoria from Techpoint here,

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

  • Planned telecoms union strike called off…for now
  • Detained Binance executive appears in court
  • NGX invests in Ethiopia's first Securities Exchange
  • Nigeria to increase electricity tariffs by 240%

Planned strike called off… for now

Many tech workers spend long hours sitting and working on their laptops
Many tech workers spend long hours sitting and working on their laptops

Remember the planned strike by the Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN)? They have called it off, at least for now.

According to a statement released by their General Secretary, Okonu Abdullahi, they are suspending the strike because they have resolved their disagreements with the subcontractors.

You might recall, PTECSSAN was gearing up for an indefinite strike starting yesterday over some beef they had with subcontractors linked to Huawei Technologies Nigeria Ltd. These subcontractors included Reime Group, Allstream Energy Solutions Ltd., Uppercrest Ltd., Tyllium Nigeria Ltd., and Specific Tools and Techniques Ltd.

But get this: after a meeting at the union's secretariat, they hammered out some agreements. The companies agreed to recognise the employees' rights to join the union, set up health facilities following the National Health Insurance Authority, and more.

The union's demands were serious; they wanted recognition, proper dues remittance, job regularisation, pension and health insurance compliance, and negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.

And despite the Ministry of Labour and Employment trying to mediate, the companies weren't playing ball. So, PTECSSAN was ready to strike. But it looks like they've found some common ground for now. 

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Detained Binance executive appears in court

Binance logo on a phone
Photo by Vadim Artyukhin on Unsplash

Yesterday, the Nigerian Government brought Tigran Gambaryan, an executive from Binance, to court in Abuja to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering. 

Gambaryan, a US citizen and Binance's head of financial crime compliance, was detained alongside Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan regional manager in Africa.

The charges against them include not paying value-added tax (VAT), company income tax, and failing to file tax returns. It also accused them of using the Binance platform to help customers evade taxes. 

The government alleges that Binance didn't register with Nigeria's tax agency, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), as required.

The suit claims that Binance didn't collect and remit various taxes as mandated by law and didn't issue invoices for VAT purposes, making it hard to determine and pay taxes by users.

Gambaryan, facing charges of laundering over $35 million, didn't enter a plea during the court appearance and will be formally arraigned on April 8 and 19 for the money laundering and tax charges, respectively.

Binance has not been charged directly, but Gambaryan could face charges on the exchange's behalf. His lawyer argued that Gambaryan wasn't in a decision-making position at Binance and couldn't be held accountable.

In response, Binance requested Gambaryan's release, stating that he was hired in 2021 to improve compliance and had assisted law enforcement in seizing billions of dollars in assets from cybercriminals.

Looks like this legal showdown is just getting started. Let's see how this plays out.


PiggyVest may go public in "a few years"

PiggesVest founders

PiggyVest, a Nigerian fintech, might be gearing up to go public in a few years! Somtochukwu Ifueze, the company’s CEO, spilled the beans at an event hosted by another fintech, Kora.

So, PiggyVest, started in 2016 by the CEO and three other co-founders, has been on a mission to make saving money digital for Nigeria's young crowd. And boy, have they been successful! With nearly 5 million customers and over ₦1 trillion paid out to users, they're making waves.

But here's the kicker – instead of just selling out, they're eyeing an IPO as a more viable option. 

They even acquired Abeg, now known as Pocket, in 2022, diving into the social commerce scene and racking up over a million customers.

Now, PiggyVest isn't the only one with IPO dreams. Flutterwave's been talking about it too. But while Flutterwave's valuation is sky-high, PiggyVest's is a bit murky.

But get this: PiggyVest's been pretty thrifty with their cash, raising way less funding than other fintech giants in Nigeria. Their CMO even mentioned how being on a tight budget forced them to be smart about their moves.

As for where they'll IPO, well, the Nigerian Stock Exchange seems like a prime candidate. And with local investors already eyeing the tech scene, this could be a game-changer for the Nigerian startup world.


NGX invests in Ethiopia's first securities exchange

NGX

The Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) just snagged a stake in Ethiopia's very first securities exchange! 

It didn't spill the beans on how much they coughed up, but Ethiopia managed to rake in $26.6 million in fundraising, blowing past its target set back in 2023.

The Ethiopian Securities Exchange (ESX) was gunning for $11.07 million to kickstart operations, all part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's push to revamp the economy.

The Ethiopian government is keeping a 25% slice of the ESX pie through Ethiopian Investment Holdings, with private and institutional investors nabbing the rest.

NGX, alongside big shots like FSD Africa and Trade and Development Bank Group, threw cash into the pot to get the exchange off the ground.

ESX CEO Tilahun Kassahun couldn't contain his excitement, boasting about the influx of cash and confidence from investors.

And guess what? NGX, with its hefty market capitalisation, is flexing its muscles, bringing in expertise to help ESX get its act together, from setting up the bourse structure to marketing.

Thanks to NGX's help, ESX now has a rule book to steer its ship.

But it's not just international players getting in on the action – local banks, insurance firms, and private entities all chipped in too.
With the exchange slated to launch soon, Ethiopia's hoping to lure in even more foreign investors, despite its economy still being pretty state-controlled.


Nigeria to increase electricity tariffs by 240%

electricity

The government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), just dropped a bombshell on electricity tariffs. 

What is it? They decided to crank up the prices for Band A customers to ₦225 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a jaw-dropping 240% increase from the previous ₦68 per kWh.

Now, who are these Band A folks? Well, they're the lucky ones who supposedly get up to 20 hours of electricity every day. But let's face it, does anyone actually get that much power in Nigeria?

This price hike has got people up in arms, especially the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). They're shouting from the rooftops about how this move will drive manufacturers out of business and slam the brakes on the already struggling economy.

So, why the sudden increase? According to Musiliu Oseni, the Vice Chairman of NERC, they're pulling the plug on subsidies because they just can't keep shelling out ₦2.9 trillion on electricity every year. 

So, starting April 3, 2024, Band A customers will have to foot their own bills without any government help.

NERC is trying to calm the storm by saying this won't affect other customer categories for now, but who knows what the future holds?

In the midst of all this chaos, some power distribution companies are getting demoted because they're not delivering the promised 20 hours of electricity. 

Meanwhile, Nigeria's Minister of Power spilled the beans about plans to pay off debts to power generation and gas supply companies. Maybe that'll help boost power levels nationwide. Let's keep our fingers crossed!


In case you missed it

What I'm reading and watching  

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  • Zyolix is looking for a UI/UX & Product Designer for Saas Website. Apply here.
  • Apply for the product manager role here.
  • Lemonde Payments is looking for a Product UX Designer. Apply here.
  • 0x is hiring a Senior Software Engineer (Full-Stack). Apply here.
  • A US-based company is looking for a Junior Software Engineer to join our miniExtensions team. Apply here.
  • Seedstars has announced  INFUSE 2024, a global invitation for innovative applications aimed at fortifying health systems against climate threats and improving immunisation delivery. Apply here.
  • Explore this website to find multiple job opportunities in Data that align with your preferences.
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Have a fun weekend!

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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