Here are the highlights of tech around Africa for the week;
BasiGo secures $5 million debt funding, Flutterwave acquires 13 new licences to operate in the US and Starlink, illegal in Ghana.
- BasiGo secures $5 million debt funding
- Flutterwave acquires 13 new licences to operate in the US
- Starlink, illegal in Ghana
BasiGo secures $5 million debt funding
BasiGo, a Kenyan electric vehicle manufacturer, recently secured a substantial $5 million debt funding from the British International Investment (BII), a UK-based development finance institution and impact investor. The goal of this large-scale funding infusion is to increase the number of locally assembled electric buses in Kenya to 100. By replacing outdated, diesel-powered buses with more contemporary, ecologically friendly electric buses, the initiative is set to completely transform the nation's public transportation network.
The Pay-As-You-Drive financing model from BasiGo, a ground-breaking strategy that allows bus operators to purchase electric buses without having to pay astronomical upfront fees, is the central component of this project. Kenya's transition to sustainable public transportation is made possible in large part by BII's funding support; each BasiGo electric bus that is installed in Nairobi promises to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50 tonnes per year.
Co-founder and chief financial officer of BasiGo Jonathan Green highlighted a common commitment to developing scalable climate solutions in Africa while expressing excitement about the catalytic financial support from BII. Kenya's electric buses, which are powered by the nation's plentiful renewable energy resources, are particularly noteworthy. They promise to reduce CO2 emissions significantly, eliminate the need for imported gasoline, and provide cleaner, more economical modern transportation.
The enthusiasm was shared by Chris Chijiutomi, Managing Director and Head of Africa at BII, who recognized BasiGo as a pioneer in transforming public transportation in Kenya.
BasiGo has the potential to reduce five million tonnes of CO2 in Nairobi alone, according to BII, which has a 75-year history of investing for impact throughout Africa. In order to scale disruptive solutions that have the potential to change lives in African communities, Chijiutomi emphasized the alignment with BII's Climate Innovation Facility.
With the largest fleet of electric buses in sub-Saharan Africa, BasiGo, which was founded in 2021, has already made a substantial contribution to the introduction of electric buses to Nairobi's public transportation system. A major step toward creating a new green manufacturing hub for contemporary electric cars in Kenya is the assembly of the locally produced electric buses, which were made possible by funding from BII's Climate Innovation Facility. BasiGo hopes to deploy 1,000 locally built electric vehicles in Nairobi with the help of around 350 deposits from bus operators in that city.
Over 350 deposits from bus operators in Nairobi have been given to BasiGo, which plans to deploy 1,000 locally built electric buses across East Africa in the next three years, indicating a bright future for environmentally friendly and sustainable public transportation.
Flutterwave acquires 13 new licences to operate in the US
The Pan-African fintech powerhouse Flutterwave has acquired 13 new money transfer licenses, further solidifying its place in the US financial scene. Through its specialist remittance product, Send App, the company is now able to facilitate transfers to and from approximately 29 states in the United States. This strategic step further strengthens the company's capabilities.
Arizona, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota are among the states that are covered by the recently obtained licenses. The importance of this development was emphasized by Stephen Cheng, Executive Vice President for Global Expansion and Partnerships at Flutterwave. He underlined that these licenses demonstrate Flutterwave's capacity to deliver services in a safe and sound manner in addition to broadening the company's regulatory reach. Cheng also emphasized the significance of building trust with partners, customers, and regulators. This underscores Flutterwave's dedication to expanding its services and reach inside the financial industry, especially in the area of remittances.
This calculated action comes after Flutterwave declared four months ago that it will be bringing its cross-border payment services to the United States. The procurement of these licenses is consistent with Flutterwave's proactive strategy of working with regulators across multiple markets. It demonstrates their dedication to adhering to legal regulations and guaranteeing the security of client cash, which is crucial in the financial sector.
After encountering obstacles with Kenyan regulations the previous year, Flutterwave accelerated its quest of permits pertaining to remittances. Flutterwave received an International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO) license from the Reserve Bank of Malawi in November.
In order to expand its remittance service, Send App, to South Asia earlier, the business partnered with IndusInd, the sixth-largest bank in India. Furthermore, Flutterwave obtained a comparable license in Rwanda, demonstrating the business's commitment to negotiating a variety of regulatory environments and growing its remittance services internationally.
The founder and CEO of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola, stressed the growing significance of remittance flows, which are now a major source of outside funding for African nations. According to him, the goal of Flutterwave is to make payments easier in order to link Africa to the rest of the world and vice versa. With intentions to eventually broaden coverage to include every state in the United States and beyond, the obtained licenses are an essential first step in realizing this goal.
Starlink illegal in Ghana
Recently, Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA) released a warning against the alleged sale and use of Starlink equipment in the nation. The NCA, which oversees telecommunications in Ghana, made it clear that neither Starlink's operations nor any of their equipment had received type approval from the NCA. This notice, which was released on December 7, 2023, emphasizes how illegal Starlink's operations are in Ghana because it is against the Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775, for organizations to offer electronic communication services without the required license or authorization from the NCA.
The general public is also advised to exercise cautious and not use any equipment or services that are purported to be from Starlink by the NCA. Furthermore, those engaged in the service's operations or sales are instructed to stop right away. Enacted by legislation, the NCA guarantees the public that it will protect licensees' and consumers' interests by guaranteeing fair competition and participation in the market. Nevertheless because of its widespread use, the service was accessible in the nation even before official approval. The NCA is being vigilant because of indications that some local vendors are importing Starlink equipment, marking it up, and providing services without the required authorization.
Concerns in Ghana include the high cost of Starlink in comparison to traditional internet services and the recent hike in data plan costs by local mobile network providers, even though Starlink offers an option with faster speed and larger coverage. It raises concerns about how to strike a balance between innovation and regulatory monitoring. The conflict between technology improvements and regulatory compliance reflects the ongoing difficulties in obtaining dependable and reasonably priced internet connectivity in some locations.
The NCA's action is in line with previous measures taken by regulators in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, among other African nations, where the use of Starlink services without the required authorization has been warned against. The cautious approach is in reaction to information that equipment that does not have official licenses is being marketed and used in these nations.
Elon Musk's satellite-based internet service, Starlink, is scheduled to formally debut in Ghana during the third quarter of 2024.