These are the Top 10 African Tech Stories of 2018. And, They Mean a Lot

I make this compilation with the hope that nothing exceeding happens within the last 4 days of 2018. Being that folks are on holidays, we may safely say that the best of 2018 has been.

So, here we go!

The news items have been so reviewed because they dominated the news space, changed the way we perceive things and highlighted individuals/groups that have been doing great stuffs albeit low-key for some time.

Lets get to the business of the day:

The Golden Anambra Girls

In August, a team of five Nigerian girls emerged winners of the $10,000 Junior Gold Awards at the 2018 Technovation World Challenge event which was held in California, USA. Their names are Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo, and Vivian Okoye.

The group (named “Save A Soul”) developed a solution called the “FD-Detector”, an app designed to help fight fake drugs.

How does it works? FD-Detector can determine the genuineness of a drug when users scan the barcode on the drugs using their mobile devices. In an economy plagued by fake drugs, this app is a masterstroke.

The team was celebrated by the country. They meet the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and were given scholarships, cash prizes of N1 million each, decorated with the Crest of Anambra State and issued a Certificate of Merit by the Anambra State Government.

UpNepa: 2 Nigerian Students created an App That Notifies Users of Electricity in Their Neighbourhood

UpNepa is a simple utility app which gives real-time information about the current state of power supply within a particular region or community. It was created by two students of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Salaudeen Taslim and Salaudeen Abdurrahman.

The app uses your location to find the nearest place where you can find electricity to charge your devices. UpNepa also has a feature–the Automatic mode, which informs you when last electricity was provided in a location. The app also allows you communicate with strangers in different locations and make inquiries on electricity in their neighbourhood.

Although this solution will help Nigerians manage their misery rather than help, it nevertheless is an exciting invention!

Konga became Yudala… Sorry Yudala became Konga

In Q1 this year, an interesting M&A deal occurred in Nigeria, Zinox group, an important Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), took over Konga, a popular Nigerian e-commerce service, KongaPay, its mobile payment platform; and KOS-Express, Konga’s logistics venture.

According to our report, the deal was concluded after months of negotiations between Zinox and Konga’s major shareholders, Naspers and Kinnevik. The company was with 184,000 subscribers acquired for an undisclosed price.

The first indication of a distressed within the new Konga was the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer, Shola Adekoya in March. He was replaced by a combo Nick Imudia and Prince Nnamdi Ekeh.

The companies were merged and they re-organised their strategy significantly (a combination of Konga’s online presence and Yudala’s brick and mortar retail business).

Paga Secured $10 Million Round

In September, leading Nigerian Fintech Startup, Paga raised $10 million in funding in a series led by the Global Innovation Fund, to join the league Nigerian big-boy startups… with this round of funding, Paga’s total funding went up to $35 million.

This move would see Paga tow the path of international expansion like prominent regional and global payment processing companies such as Paypal, Alipay, and Safricom’s M-Pesa. But Tayo Oviosu says that the company is not in competition with those guys but to build something that would surpass them.

As part of the $10 million dollars round, Global Innovation partners will take a board seat. Other investors in the round include Goodwell, Adlevo, Capital, Omidyar Network and Unreasonable capital.

E is out, GB is in!

Sometimes in October, there was a shakeup in Flutterwave Inc. Co-founder and long-serving CEO, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji stepped down from his role at the company to ‘focus on giving back to the startup community’ (in his own words).

Following this development, Co-Founder, Olugbenga Agboola (former CTO), replaced Iyin Aboyeji as CEO of the company.

This development followed the completion of a Series A Extension round of financing which has seen the financial services company raise over $20 million from a pool of investors. These investors include; Mastercard, CRE Ventures, Fintech Collective, 4DX Ventures, Raba Capital, Green Visor Capital and Greycroft Partners.

We were not exposed to further details.

Since then, E has not indicated his next moves (although we speculated about an Edtech). He has been upbeat about Mrs Oby Ezekwesili’s political ambition of recent, too.

Paystack Raised $8 Million in Series A funding

Nigerian payment processing company, Paystack also raised $8 million in Series A funding from global payments giants –Visa, Tencen, and Stripe. That was another big round in the Nigerian Tech space.

This also includes follow-on funding from the likes of Y Combinator, angel investors Tom Stafford (Managing Partner at DST Global), Gbenga Oyebode (founding partner of Aluko & Oyebode and Board member of MTN Nigeria), and Dale Mathias (Co-founder, Innovation Partners Africa).

You can read it all…

The follow-up investment for the Lagos-based FinTech startup brought its total investment to date to about $10 million, having raised $1.3 million form both local and foreign investors in 2016 (of which Chinese online giant, Tencent and Y Combinator was a part of).

The company has since embarked on an expansion drive, beginning first with Ghana.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Got On Twitter Board. Omobola Johnson on WWW Foundation

In 2018, Some Nigerian woman represented the country in power corporate places across the globe. In July, Nigeria’s former minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was appointed to the board of popular social media company, Twitter.

We’re adding Ngozi (@NOIweala) and Bob (@authorzoellick) to the Twitter board. Welcome! Sadly we’re also saying farewell to our friend Marjorie (@marjscar). She’s been an amazing advocate for journalists everywhere, and pushed us constantly to better inform people. Thank you M.

— jack (@jack) July 19, 2018

She was appointed to the board alongside Robert Zoellick, the former President of the World Bank between 2007 and 2012. Dr Okonjo-Iweala joins the board to replace Marjorie Scardino.

Similarly, Dr Omobola Olubusola Johnson assumed a new role on the Board of Directors of the World Wide Web Foundation, at the end of October 2018, 3 years after being appointed the honorary chairperson of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).

Dr Johnson was appointed as the second-ever honorary chair of A4AI on September 1, 2015, and has since proven vital in the decision making of the body as well as “led high-level advocacy efforts to drive down the cost of the internet”.

Andela went to Kigali!

In July, Foremost tech talent development Company, Andela announced that Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is its next African city stop, in the bid to further its pan-African expansion. According to Andela, this will allow talent across Africa to access training and employment.

Andela noted that the choice of Kigali is owing to its strategic location, broadband access, government policy and the youthful population of the region. We reported then that Andela will launch the Kigali tech campus in December and applications for talent recruitment will begin in August.

We are not sure the company kept to its timeline.

Subsequently, Nigeria’s premier incubation hub, Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), has joined the Kigali league. It announced that Kigali as the location for its design lab which is meant to be launched in February 2019.

Tobi Akinpelu Developed MavenSticker

Early this month, Oluwatobi Akinpelu, decided to tinker with the Whatsapp Stickers idea and came up with something truly Nigerian and fun to use. The app comes with fun stickers that transform boring Whatsapp chats into a fun dialogue.

The app was among the trending apps on the Playstore for a number of weeks.

MavenSticker is preloaded with all your favourite GIFs and meme photos. It organizes them into different appropriate categories (many that you would not have imagined).

Despite the volume, Akinpelu says that he has plans to add more stickers. He is currently digitizing more images. And he plans to add more categories very soon.

OLX goes the way of Efritin

In February, one of Nigeria’s most popular online services closed shop. According to our report, Naspers, owners of OLX, wants decided to shut down operations in all African countries except South Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya).

OLX is a classifieds listing website. It has a presence in over 30 countries and began operations in Nigeria in 2012. It had been the major player in the Nigerian market until competition from Jiji.ng became fierce.

OLX’s shutdown is similar to the shutdown of another popular classified website: Efritin.com. Efritin shutdown its operations in Nigeria in 2017.

Conclusion

With the benefit of hind-sight, I must say that 2018 was a year many big wins for the African tech space. Although we did not witness the emergence of any truly African Unicorn nor create a global impact product, we witnessed some exciting announcements.

And, it is my pleasure to refresh your minds about a few. Of course, you are welcome.

If you’d like to get featured on our Entrepreneur Spotlight, click here to share your startup story with us.

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