TechCabal Daily – Africa’s Helios Towers Pulled Off a Successful $364 million London IPO Despite Brexit Uncertainties

Join innovators, thought leaders, founders, investors, policymakers from across South-South/South-East (and from the wider Nigerian Startup/Tech Ecosystem) in Uyo (South-South Nigeria) as the two regions meet to network, have startup & tech conversations and have fun. With over 60 parallel sessions (spread over 4 days) and over 5,000 participants, #StartupSouth is reputed as the biggest Startup/Entrepreneurship conference in the South-South/South-East. Attending the conference is free but registration is required. Register to attend here. There’s an opportunity for exhibitors here.

Helios Towers, one of Africa’s biggest telecom infrastructure operators, has completed a $364 million initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. Founded in 2009 by Nigerian private equity company, Helios Investment Partners, Helios Towers builds and operates telecommunication towers. It controls 6,800 towers in five African countries including Ghana, Tanzania, DR Congo, Republic of Congo and South Africa. The company made $356.05 million in revenue in 2018, and its client base includes companies like MTN, Airtel and Vodacom.

Helios initially pursued an IPO in 2018, but it cancelled the plan due to political instability in some of its African markets. It reactivated the listing plan in August this year. With the uncertainty caused by the impending Brexit, Helios priced its shares at £1.15 ($1.47), which was the low end of its price range according to Bloomberg. But on the first day of trading, its share price rose by 6.50% to give the company a valuation of over $1.45 billion.

The total value of online payments in Nigeria has reached N49.35 trillion ($135.4 billion) for the first six months of 2019. Data from the Nigerian InterBank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) shows that this is a roughly 34% gain from the same period in 2018. It suggests that Nigerians are now more comfortable using paperless transaction options such as ATMs, POS terminals, mobile money, internet gateways and mobile apps. The growth of paperless solutions was the intended outcome when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the cashless policy in 2011. However, the gains recorded so far could be reversed as the Nigerian government is set to implement a VAT on all online transactions starting in January 2020.

After launching the first “made in Africa” smartphones in Rwanda, Mara Phones will launch another phone manufacturing plant in South Africa this week. The plant has the capacity to produce 1.2 million devices and will create thousands of jobs. Like Rwanda, the new plant will manufacture the Mara X and the Mara Z. Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, is expected to launch the plant as part of a new District-Based Development Model.

The #JollofRoad team is currently in Cote d’ Ivoire – they are not supposed to still be in the country. But when they tried to make the trip to Liberia, the road was so bad they spent 90 minutes down a bush path. Like that wasn’t bad enough, they realised that the road after the Liberian customs border was much worse. This video showed how the road looked like. So the team had to go back to Cote d’ Ivoire and will head for Guinea instead. From there they’ll make a second entry to Liberia; hopefully this time, the roads won’t look mines. Visit every day to catch up on all the stories from the road!

10 African startups founders have been selected as the finalists for the first ever Africa Netpreneur Prize. Organised by the Jack Ma Foundation, the Africa Netpreneur Prize will provide $1 million grand prize to promising startups every year for the next ten years. For its inaugural event holding on November 16, the initiative has named 10 finalists including: Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO, Mumm (Egypt); Ayodeji Arikawe, co-founder, Thrive Agric (Nigeria); Temie Giwa-Tubosun, CEO at LifeBank (Nigeria); Mahmud Johnson, CEO of J-Palm (Liberia); Kevine Kagirimpundu, CEO of UZURI K&Y (Rwanda); Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda (Rwanda); Dr. Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren, founder of Black Swan (Nigeria); Chibuzo Opara, co-founder of DrugStoc (Nigeria); Dr. Omar Sakr, CEO of Nawah-Scientific (Egypt); and Moulaye Taboure, CEO of Afrikrea (Cote D’Ivoire). All ten innovators will pitch their startup innovations to Jack Ma, former Chairman of Alibaba, Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet, Joe Tsai, Vice Chairman at Alibaba and Ibukun Awosika, chairperson of First Bank Nigeria.

The JollofRoad experience is mostly about adventure, but it is also an exploration of what it means to do business in other parts of Africa. For the last five decades, political and business leaders have made the case for an integrated Africa; the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is the latest attempt to fulfil this. In this article, Aanu Adeoye explains how JollofRoad is promoting the idea for an integrated Africa.

Applications are open for the 2020 International Certified Professional Accountants and Startup Accelerator. The accelerator targets startups developing solutions to improve the accounting and finance profession and others that are developing regulatory technology solutions such as fraud detection and compliance controls. The programme promises $25,000 funding for cohorts, access to subject matter experts and access to an investor network needed for startup growth. Deadline to apply is November 30. Click here for more details.

Highline Beta, a Canadian venture capital firm has hired Andela co-founder, Ian Carnevale, as its new head of Growth Ops. Carnevale takes on the new role after more than 10 years creating and working in different startups. According to his LinkedIn page, he co-founded Street Capital, Andela, Bookneto, and LearnVille. At Highline Beta, Carnevale will help the company scale its venture innovation model and help it target startups and promising corporate opportunities in markets like the US and the UK.

PiggyVest co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Odunayo Eweniyi will speak at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting in Washington DC. She will speak at a 90-minute panel session on the theme “The Infrastructure Revolution: Integration, Investment And Innovation.” Alongside other world leaders, activists and investors, she will provide understanding about how regional innovation and investment in infrastructure provide better outcomes for countries.

The 4th edition of the Nigeria Fintech Week holds from October 28 to November 1, 2019. The conference will present numerous opportunities for fintech startups to get access to global funding and uncover Nigerian fund sources. Learn more here. Secure your seat by registering on the website or send your inquiries to

Kenyan IT pioneer and social entrepreneur, Juliana Rotich, has been announced the winner of the German Africa Award. She will formally receive the award from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on October 23. Awarded annually, the German Africa Award spotlights outstanding African personalities who have contributed in a remarkable way to pea­ce, democracy, human rights, economic development or culture on the African continent. Rotich is being honoured for her innovations such as Ushahidi and BRCK. Ushahidi is an election monitoring tool and crisis response platform. First developed for Kenya, the open source tool is now being used in over 160 countries for election monitoring and disaster management.

That’s it for today,

We’ll see you tomorrow!
– Abubakar

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