SA’s Competition Commission slams Vodacom-Vumatel deal

May 21, 2024
6 min read
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Victoria from Techpoint here,

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

  • SA’s Competition Commission slams Vodacom-Vumatel deal
  • 6 startups building hardware startups in Nigeria
  • BritBox to pull the plug in South Africa
  • Nigeria suspends cybersecurity levy 

SA’s Competition Commission slams Vodacom-Vumatel deal

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The Competition Commission is sounding some serious alarms about Vodacom's plan to snag a stake in Vumatel's parent company. They're basically saying it's a bad move that'll mess up the telecoms game.

Representing the Commission, Advocate Daniel Berger made it clear: this merger would shake up the industry. The case is set to roll from May 20 to July 19, 2024, and it's all about Vodacom grabbing a 30% slice of Maziv, the big boss behind Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA).

If the deal gets the green light, Vodacom's forking out a hefty R6 billion plus a bonus chunk based on Maziv's value, along with handing over its fibre assets worth R4.2 billion. Initially, the deal's total value was R13.2 billion, with Vodacom eyeing the option to bump its stake to 40%.

Essentially, Vodacom's offering up its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) gig to Vumatel and its fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) and fibre-to-the-site (FTTS) gigs to DFA. But hold up, Vodacom's long-distance network is off the table.

The kicker? If this goes through, Vodacom gets some serious say-so in Maziv's operations, even with a minority stake. 

Why the fuss? Well, the Commission's worried about Vodacom's already hefty influence in the mobile game, combined with DFA's dominance in providing dark fibre to fibre and mobile network operators. And now, with Maziv in the mix, they'll have a tight grip on the fibre scene.

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And let's not forget the potential for Vodacom to cosy up with DFA, possibly shutting out the competition and weakening rivals. The Commission thinks giving the thumbs-up to this merger would mean big, irreversible changes in the telecoms landscape.

Their solution? Slam the brakes on this merger before it even starts. They reckon that's the only way to stop the ripple effects from messing things up even more.

6 startups building hardware startups in Nigeria


Building a hardware startup in Nigeria is tough, which is why most startups focus on software. But despite the challenges, six Nigerian startups are bravely taking on hardware.

In Nigeria's tech scene, software startups dominate due to the high funding needed for hardware. AI and robotics expert Olusola Ayoola emphasises the importance of funding, time, and expertise for hardware success.

Kemisola Bolarinwa, inventor of a smart bra for detecting breast cancer, champions more women in STEM, highlighting the need for diverse talent in hardware development.

Despite the hurdles, these Nigerian hardware startups are pushing forward. Globally, the US, China, Germany, the UK, and Japan lead in deep tech, showing the significance of hardware in tech innovation.

Hardware is crucial—without it, we'd have no smartphones or computers for software. That's why Bolu curated six Nigerian companies making waves in hardware.

One example is Koolboks, a Nigerian startup tackling the unreliable power supply with solar-powered refrigerators. Instead of buying one outright, users pay a monthly fee as low as ₦25,000 for the service. Founded by Ayoola Dominic and Deborah Gael in 2018, Koolboks raised $2.5 million in 2022 to expand across Nigeria.

Curious about the other startups? Check Bolu’s latest for the full story! 

BritBox to pull the plug in South Africa


BritBox, the streaming service by BBC Studios and ITV, is calling it quits in South Africa come August 2024. They're shifting focus to more lucrative markets, they say. This decision comes after three years of bringing British content to South African screens.

Annual subscribers got a heads-up on May 2, 2024 — they're getting switched to monthly plans at R99.99 ($5) per month. No need to lift a finger, it's all automatic. MultiChoice Group even added BritBox to its DStv offerings in June 2023.

Surprisingly, South Africa was a big deal for BritBox, with 2.5 million international subscribers attributed to it. BritBox's CEO called South Africa one of their most enthusiastic markets in terms of streaming activity.

But the streaming scene in South Africa is cutthroat. Prime Video, Netflix, Showmax, DStv, BritBox, Apple TV, Disney+, and Stream Premium are all vying for attention. Amazon Prime Video seems to be the crowd favourite, with a stellar rating on app stores.

Despite BritBox's exit, the South African streaming market is booming. Statista predicts it'll rake in $3.3 million in 2024 alone. And with a growth rate of over 10% per year, it's on track to hit $4.9 million by 2028. That's some serious cash in the digital entertainment game.

Nigeria suspends cybersecurity levy 


Last week, the Nigerian government hit a pause on the proposed 0.5% cybersecurity levy slapped on various financial institutions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). 

Per Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, the government has temporarily suspended the policy while it undergoes some review. 

This swift action comes just two weeks after the House of Representatives called on the CBN to backtrack on the directive, citing concerns from different quarters.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chewed over the issue and plans to delve deeper into it in future sessions.

This levy buzz kicked off on May 6, 2024, when the CBN announced the levy affecting financial institutions, telcos, and the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It was set to kick in on May 20, 2024, tapping into electronic bank transactions.

Financial bodies were meant to snip off this levy from electronic transfers and funnel it to the National Cyber Security Fund. Those who flouted the rule would be fined 2% of their annual turnover.

Kingsley Chinda, a House of Reps member, flagged the directive as murky, warning of potential misinterpretations. He stressed the urgency of fixing this to avoid piling more trouble on Nigerians already grappling with subsidy cuts on fuel and electricity.

In case you missed it

What I'm reading and watching


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  • Explore this website to find multiple job opportunities in Data that align with your preferences.
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Have a terrific Tuesday!

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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