Copia Global to lay off 1,000 staff or shut down

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May 20, 2024
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7 min read
Copia Global
Image Source: TechCrunch

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Kamusta,

Victoria from Techpoint here,

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

  • Copia to lay off 1,000 staff or shut down
  • CBN may collect customers' social media handles
  • Spiro gets $50 million debt funding to expand EVs in Africa
  • NCC suspends issuing MVNO licences

Copia to lay off 1,000 staff or shut down

Copia Global
Image Source: TechCrunch

Five months after announcing a $20 million Series C extension round, Copia Global, a Kenyan B2C eCommerce startup, is reportedly considering layoffs or closing shop. 

Per TechCabal, these layoffs could affect over 1,000 employees, which would be a huge cost-cutting move.

Copia CEO Tim Steel said that future uncertainty might force the company to lay off employees and impact salary payments. Copia might have to close if job losses do not help. 

Steel explained that by law, Copia has to give all staff a one-month notice of potential redundancies and hold a one-month consultation period with those affected. 

Launched in 2013 by Tracy Turner and Jonathan Lewis, the company has raised $123 million across seven funding rounds. In November 2023, it disclosed a campaign to increase sales via its mobile app. 

Cracks began to appear in 2023, despite claims of success in last-mile delivery and developing a fulfilment system for remote customers. After two years of operation, in April 2023, it closed its doors in Uganda and let go of over 700 workers.

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Copia announced in July 2023 that it would pause its expansion plans to expand into Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and Mozambique to concentrate on remaining profitable and providing better customer service through streamlined procedures and cost-cutting.


CBN may collect customers' social media handles

CBN building
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. [PHOTO CREDIT: Ehud Kaduna]

Remember this? House of Reps asks the CBN to stop banks from collecting clients' social media handles  

Here’s what happened: In July 2023, the House of Representatives requested the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) temporarily halt the application of the directive instructing banks to collect and verify customers' social media handles.  

The case was brought by Lagos-based lawyer Chris Eke, who argued that this rule, found in Section 6(a)(iv) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations, 2023, was undemocratic, unconstitutional, and clashed with Section 37 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. He also sought a permanent injunction to stop the CBN from enforcing this regulation.

In response, the CBN filed a preliminary objection, questioning the suit's validity and arguing that the regulation did not interfere with personal privacy.

And now? Last Friday, a Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that the CBN’s regulation, which requires banks to ask for their customers' social media handles as part of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process, does not violate privacy rights.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba sided with the CBN, finding that the preliminary objection had merit and dismissed the case. 

He compared providing a social media handle to giving an email address or phone number, which are standard ways for banks to contact customers and perform due diligence. Therefore, he ruled that the regulation did not infringe on privacy rights.

Justice Dimgba noted that having a social media account is meant for public visibility, and it would be unreasonable to consider the CBN's request as a breach of privacy.

He also pointed out that the lawyer's claim was speculative, as there was no evidence that any bank had asked him for his social media handle or that he even had an account with a financial institution affected by this regulation.

In conclusion, the judge suggested that if a customer didn't want to share their social media handle, they could choose not to do business with banks that require it and find other options.


Spiro gets $50 million debt funding to expand EVs in Africa

Electric bike

Indian-based EV company Spiro has raised a $50 million debt funding from Afreximbank to beef up its operations in existing markets, including Benin, Togo, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana. It also plans to expand to Cameroon and Morocco this year.

Spiro, which claims to be the biggest electric motorbike operator in Africa, mainly focuses on two-wheelers. It has 11,000 motorbikes and 300 battery-swapping stations in Benin and Togo, where it started out. 

It’s also rolled out 800 bikes in Kenya since September 2023 and 300 in Rwanda. Next on its list? Launching 1,000 motorbikes in Uganda before 2024 wraps up.

Its CEO, Kaushik Burman, spilled the beans at the African CEO Forum in Kigali, sharing their ambitious goal of hitting 1 million 2-wheelers in five years.

Spiro isn't just about fast battery recharge and swapping stations, it’s also diving into Internet-of-Things tech, mapping, and even cooking up a ride-hailing app. Picture Uber, but without needing bikes. 

These features will let it track their bikes and batteries and keep tabs on usage.  It’s also aiming to be the Uber of electric ride-hailing, complete with payment features for drivers and riders.


NCC suspends issuing MVNO licences

NCC

Last week, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced a temporary halt on issuing new communication licences in three areas: Interconnect Exchange, Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), and Value Added Service (VAS) Aggregator. 

This pause began on May 17, 2024, nearly a year after the NCC granted MVNO licences to 25 companies to help serve Nigeria's unserved and underserved regions.

If you’re wondering what the licences mean for these companies, read Bolu’s article here: The new NCC MVNO licences could make data cheaper in Nigeria

Back to the story: The NCC says this break is needed to review competition, market saturation, and dynamics within these sectors. So, it won't accept new applications during this period but will continue to evaluate pending ones.

MVNOs operate by leasing radio spectrum from established Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to provide specialised services to customer segments.

For instance, Interswitch got a Tier 5 MVNO licence in May 2023 through its subsidiary, Systegra Technologies Limited, for 500 million naira (about $1.08 million). This licence lets Interswitch offer affordable 4G or 5G services to Nigerians, especially in rural areas.

An Interconnect Exchange Licence, on the other hand, allows multiple independent entities to interconnect and transfer electronic communications, while VAS aggregators serve as a central point for VAS providers, simplifying connections to network operators.


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Have a productive week!

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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