Nigeria's e-hailing drivers join nationwide strike

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June 3, 2024
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7 min read
Bolt Uber

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Victoria from Techpoint here,

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

  • Nigeria's e-hailing drivers join nationwide strike
  • Gro Intelligence shuts down
  • Internet crackdown hits South African private school students
  • iyris’ $16 million Series A

Nigeria's e-hailing drivers join nationwide strike

Bolt Uber

Following a disagreement with the government over a new minimum wage, Nigeria's two largest labour unions, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), declared an indefinite strike to begin today, June 3, 2024.

Consequently, the Nigerian ride-hailing drivers’ union, the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON), has reportedly told its members, including Bolt and Uber, to stop services. 

This directive, shared in a circular by union president Comrade Adedamola Adeniran, calls for a nationwide service suspension to protest the government's economic policies.

Other than demanding a new minimum wage, the strike also calls for a rollback of electricity tariffs from ₦225/KwH to ₦65/KwH, and the removal of electricity usage band categories. 

Comrade Ayoade Ibrahim, AUATON's General Secretary, believes that meeting the strike's goals will give Nigerians more disposable income, leading to more ride orders and other benefits.

This strike hits e-hailing companies at a tough time, as they're already struggling with declining ride orders and revenues. Many Nigerians are turning to cheaper alternatives due to the harsh economic climate.

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Thus, revenue losses for these companies could be huge, depending on how long the strike lasts.


Gro Intelligence shuts down

agritech
<em>Photo by <a href="https://www.pexels.com/@quang-nguyen-vinh-222549" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quang Nguyen Vinh</a> from <a href="https://www.pexels.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pexels</a><a href="https://www.pexels.com/creative-commons-images/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> (cc0)</a></em>

Gro Intelligence, a Kenyan-born agricultural insights platform, is reportedly shutting down after failing to secure enough funding to stay afloat. 

Despite securing last-minute funding in February 2024 and laying off 60% of its staff, the company recently informed its remaining employees that it would shut up shop, keeping only a skeleton crew to wind things down.

The company, which has a presence in the United States, is currently being investigated by the SEC for potential investor fraud or misrepresentation. It is also facing lawsuits from former employees for allegedly violating labour laws during the layoff. The SEC is reportedly investigating communications and presentations made to investors, but has not commented on the case.

Gro Intelligence was founded in 2012 by Sara Menker and aimed to build the world's largest agricultural data platform. It secured an $85 million Series B round in January 2021 from investors like Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures and was listed as one of TIME's 100 most influential companies that year. 

However, by February 2024, employees were informed the company couldn't make payroll, and Menker stepped down as CEO, though she remained involved in business development and fundraising.

Gro Intelligence primarily generated revenue from Unilever but struggled to expand its client base. The company had attempted to market itself as a food security platform to various governments without much success. 

Despite its ambitious goals, Gro Intelligence's journey is ending. The company had claimed to build the world's largest climate data platform, using data from various sources to predict crop yields and provide insights. However, a combination of strategic missteps and financial challenges ultimately led to its downfall.


Internet crackdown hits South African private school students

laptop

Independent Institute of Education (IIE), a private higher education institution in South Africa, urges parents to keep a close eye on their kids' online activities by installing Internet monitoring software.

They've also put the kibosh on Whisper, an anonymous social media app, due to concerns about its inappropriate content, including sexual discussions and solicitations. 

Parents at schools like Crawford, Pinnacle, Trinityhouse, and Abbotts College received a heads-up about the ban via a letter from the IIE.

IIE's group psychologist, Nasrin Kirsten, expressed worries about Whisper's anonymity, fearing it could jeopardise children's safety. The app has been blocked on school networks, and parents are encouraged to use software like Net Nanny to keep tabs on what their kids are up to online. 

Kirsten emphasised that Whisper exposes youngsters to unsuitable discussions and solicitations, including sexual content.

The ban has the support of Klikd app co-founders Pam Tudin and Sarah Hoffman, who agree that anonymous platforms can lead to cyberbullying. Tudin pointed out that the cloak of anonymity can fuel gossip and hurtful comments, contributing to cyberbullying. 

In July 2023, Unesco also called for a ban on smartphones in schools to improve learning, reduce disruptions, and shield students from cyberbullying.


iyris’ $16 million Series A

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

iyris, formerly known as RedSea, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi-based agritech startup has scored $16 million in Series A funding to fuel its growth. 

The Ecosystem Integrity Fund (“EIF”), a climate and sustainability fund based in San Francisco led the round with support from big names like Global Ventures, Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF), Kanoo Ventures, Globivest, and Bonaventure Capital.

What's the plan with all that cash? The company plans to expand its sales coverage for their SecondSky greenhouse covers and nets. It’s also doubling down on developing innovative heat-blocking products and resilient plant genetics. 

Its goal? To revolutionise sustainable food production and make life easier for farmers facing tough climates.

Speaking of tough climates, iyris is all about helping farmers boost their crop yields, cut input costs, and stretch out those growing seasons. Its SecondSky greenhouse covers and shade nets are game-changers, shielding plants from infrared heat radiation while still letting in the light they need to thrive.

And guess what? Farmers in countries like Egypt, Morocco, and the UAE are already jumping on board. But it’s not stopping there. It’s also working on breeding plants that can handle salt, heat, and drought like champs.

With its tech, iyris aims to slash energy and water use by up to 90%, giving growers a leg up in tough conditions. 


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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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