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Focus Africa News Roundup- Issue #47

Every fortnight we compile a list of important news updates and events covering the East African FINTECH, MFGTECH, CLNTECH, and AGRTECH sectors.

For a downloadable copy of Africa’s Issue #47

Tanzania mobile money levies reduced following public outcry

A new tax on mobile payment transactions has been introduced by the Tanzania Government in July. The aim of this new levy was to help raise tax revenues and expand access to social services such as healthcare, higher education, and access to clean water. No levy was imposed on regular bank transfers, however.

As consequence of the public outcry that followed the announcement, the government agreed to review the charges and consequently reduced the new levy by 30% on September 1st.

As mobile money was, and still is,  critical in the digital and financial transformation of the country the new levies are expected to reduce overall mobile transactions in the following months. Although the country’s unbanked will have few digital alternatives to the current use of Wakala networks, we are expecting many will revert to cash, at least partially, in an effort to lower expenses,. The mobile money agents — Wakala — will probably take a hit as their transaction commissions decrease. How significant this effect will be on the Wakala network is still too early to tell.

Wakalas and mobile payments played a key role in promoting financial inclusion and a transitioning towards a cashless society in East Africa. In the wake of the economic havoc that COVID-19 has left in the region, priorities have shifted, hopefully temporarily, in a different direction.

FINTECH

Kenya’s Mobile money agency transactions up 45pc
Cash handled by mobile money agents in the eight months to August jumped by more than Sh1 trillion compared to a similar period last year, indicating a continued recovery for individuals and businesses from the pandemic-induced economic struggles.

Payabill launches online payment solution for SMEs
Payabill, a South Africa-based fintech lender, has developed a product where it takes the risk of settling the bills of international suppliers directly for SME’s.
Eli Michal is the Co-Founder & CEO at Payabill

New Channel Between Thunes and M-Pesa Is Opening Out Africa’s Cross-Border Payment Capabilitie
The cross-border payments company Thunes has announced the launch of a new service corridor for users of M-Pesa Tanzania, enabling Tanzanians to efficiently move
money from their M-Pesa mobile wallets directly to any bank account in Kenya and Rwanda.
Sandra Yao is the Senior Vice President, Africa at Thunes
Epimack Mbeteni is the M-Pesa Director at Vodacom Tanzania

mySafaricom App Brings Send to Many, Save Favourite M-PESA Agents Features
It is a one-stop shop for subscriptions, M-PESA, Home Fibre, Newspapers and kind of bunches most of Safaricom services together.  Safaricom apps are some of the most useful utility tools in Kenya. mySafaricom and M-PESA apps have amassed millions of downloads – and for good reason – because they work and are an epitome of which services Kenyans can relate to.
Peter Ndegwa is the CEO at Safaricom PLC

Biniyam Getu Chooses Panamax as its Digital Financial Services Vendor
Panamax is elated to announce that it has been chosen as the
Digital Financial Services vendor by one of the long-standing business entities in Ethiopia, BinGet Group. After achieving various milestones, BinGet Group plans to offer a comprehensive digital financial service called Wallet Transact.
Biniyam Getu is the CEO at BinGet PLC

Chipper Cash Extends Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer Service to South Africa
Chipper Cash, an African fintech start-up, has extended its peer-to-peer instant money service to South Africa. In addition to being able to use the remittance service, South African users will be able to buy, sell, and transfer cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and the USDC stablecoin.
Ham Serunjogi is the Co-founder & CEO at Chipper Cash

MTN Uganda Partners with KFC to Reward Pulse Customers with Data Bundles
MTN Uganda Partners with KFC to Reward Pulse Customers with Data Bundles. MTN Uganda last week launched a partnership with popular fast food joint KFC, as it continues to heighten the lifestyle experience of the Telecom’s youth segment customers registered for the
MTN Pulse service.
Susan Kayemba is the Senior Manager Digital Services at MTN Uganda

Vodacom Tanzania expands M-Pesa transfers in East Africa
Vodacom Tanzania has announced it now allows for direct money transfers from M-Pesa to bank accounts in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda and other mobile wallets. Vodacom has broadened the reach across East African Markets for Tanzanian-based businesses and individuals.
Hisham Hendi is the CEO at Vodacom Tanzania
Sitoyo Lopokoiyit is the CEO at M-Pesa

Somalia is on the Cusp of Becoming the World’s First Cashless Society
The Somali Central Bank introduced a central payments system in August which connects the nation’s 13 lenders, and formalises digital payments, making payments
easier for people across the country.

Traders defy central bank directive on momo-pay charges
Mobile money users have complained about the charges being imposed on them by businesses for transactions carried out through momo-pay codes.
Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi is the CEO at MTN Rwanda

Uganda’s gnuGrid raises $612k seed round as it pivots into fintech space
Ugandan startup gnuGrid has increased the size of its seed funding round to US$612,500 as it pivots its product offering to move into the fintech space.

Airtel Rwanda Partners with Canal
Airtel Rwanda and Canal+ Rwanda have launched a partnership, enabling customers to easily make subscription payments. The partnership announced at a joint press conference today provides
clients of both CANAL+ and Airtel a simpler, instant and secure payments method using Airtel Money.

Airtel customers can receive money from 129 countries, free of charge
Airtel Money has partnered with World Remit to allow customers to receive money from 129 countries, free of charge. World Remit is an international money transfer service that allows people across the world, to send money directly to Airtel Money wallets in a fast, affordable, secure and easy way to use.
Ismail Ahmed is the Founder & Chairman at WorldRemit

Kenya’s Pezesha raises 7-figure sum in seed extension led by Nigeria’s Greenhouse Capital
Kenya-based pan-African fintech startup, Pezesha has announced it has closed a seven-figure sum in a seed-extending round. The round was led by a Nigerian Venture Capitalist firm, Greenhouse Capital Partners. It was also supported by GHC’s sister company Venture Garden Group (VGG) with on-lending liquidity.
Hilda Moraa is the Founder & CEO at Pezesha

AGRTECH

$4.2mn in funding for Nigerian Agritech startup Releaf
Nigerian Agritech startup, Releaf, has received over $4mn in funding and grants. The team works with 2,000 smallholder’s farmers in the palm oil sector. Nigerian startup Releaf has secured $4.2mn in seed funding and grants, to help farmers and factory workers across Africa increase efficiency. 
Ikenna Nzewi is the CEO & Co-Founder of Releaf

Kenyan, Nigerian firms secure Sh165m grant to boost farmin
A Kenyan and Nigerian firm have won a Sh165 million ($1.5 million) grant to fund expansion plans for providing services to smallholder farmers. Heifer International picked Hello Tractor, a Kenyan firm, and Nigeria’s ColdHubs as winners of the inaugural Agriculture, Youth and Technology (AYuTe) Africa Challenge.

Micro Insurance Company and Lofte Kesho to partner for Digital Solutions
The two are partnering to offer digital solutions to livestock farmers to improve their economic well-being. Lofte Kesho, an integrated FinTech and AgriTech player, was created to help farmers collateralize animals as assets for financial benefits such as loans, working capital, cow replacement loans, and investment loans.
Wairimu Njoki is the Country manager at Micro Insurance

TMX’s online commodity trading boost prices of green grams, Sesame.
Online commodity trading introduced by Tanzania Mercantile Exchange has boosted prices of green grams and sesame which have almost doubled since last year, and enabled local commodities to get clients globally. The online trading and communication has also made it easier to get local farmers produce and supply global markets.

Nigerian agri-tech startup Zowasel raises $100k financing from Guinness, Promasidor
Nigerian agri-tech startup Zowasel has received US$100,000 financing from Guinness Nigeria and Promasidor Nigeria, a leading pan-African consumer packaged food manufacturer, at the UN World Food Programme Zero Hunger Sprint.
Jerry Oche is the Co-founder and CEO at Zowasel

UNCDF Agritech Challenge 2021 open for innovative Agritech solutions
The United Nations Capital Development Fund has partnered with Atal Innovation Mission, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rabo Foundation to launch the Agritech Challenge 2021. This should address issues faced by smallholder farmers around climate change, productivity, and supply chains. 
Preeti Sinha is the Executive Secretary at UNCDF
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