M-KOPA, a leading fintech platform, today announced it successfully closed over $250m in new debt and equity funding to expand its financial services offering to underbanked consumers across Sub-Saharan Africa. This marks one of the largest combined debt and equity raises in the African tech sector, enabling M-KOPA to continue its rapid growth.
Over $200m in sustainability-linked debt financing was led and arranged by Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank and long-term strategic partner to M-KOPA. Other participating lenders include The International Finance Corporation (IFC), funds managed by Lion’s Head Global Partners, FMO: Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, British International Investment, Mirova SunFunder and Nithio. A further $55m in equity investment was backed by existing strategic investor Sumitomo Corporation, which is contributing $36.5m to the total raise and will engage closely with M-KOPA on new growth markets and products. Blue Haven Initiative, Lightrock, Broadscale Group and Latitude, the sister fund to Local Globe, also participated in the transaction.
M-KOPA’s fintech platform combines the power of digital micropayments with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to provide customers with access to productive assets. In markets where individuals have limited pre-existing financial identities and conventional collateral, M-KOPA’s flexible credit model allows individuals to pay a small deposit and get instant access to everyday essentials, including smartphones, electric motorcycles and solar power systems, and then graduate to digital financial services such as loans and health insurance. M-KOPA’s solution embeds credit into the product through a smart digital connection, giving customers ownership instantly, which they can pay off through micro-instalments over time. The company has sold over 3 million of these products through a unique direct sales model that includes more than 10,000 agents. M-KOPA’s operations started in East Africa and successfully expanded to Nigeria in 2021 and, more recently, Ghana. From 2020 to 2022, M-KOPA recorded a compound annual growth rate of 85% in new customer acquisition, and was recently recognised as one of Africa’s Fastest-Growing Top 100 companies by the Financial Times for two consecutive years, in 2022 and 2023.
WATRA Advocates E-Governance and Technology to Boost Jobs for Youths In Nigeria, W/Africa
WEST Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has advocated greater adoption of e-Governance and concerted effort to expand the digital economy in Nigeria and other countries of West Africa.
The executive secretary of WATRA, Aliyu Yusuf Aboki stated that this will boost investment and create quality jobs for young people in Nigeria and West Africa. He stated that despite the comparatively low rate of literacy in West Africa, there is a very wide scope for digitizing government services.
He said he sees the enormous opportunity for e-governance as he travels across the 15 ECOWAS states. He explained that governments at all levels could increase their taxes dramatically by digitizing the identities of taxpayers and tax collection processes. He also emphasized that there is a great opportunity to expand access to education and healthcare through digital tools.
WATRA is a regional organisation that has the mandate to promote the adoption and harmonization of regulations that stimulate investment in telecommunications and increase affordable access for citizens.
The WATRA boss cited the example of India where over 1 billion citizens, including the poorest citizens, could easily receive or make payments using their telephones through a government-supported platform, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
Other government-backed digital schemes in the country enable municipal governments to manage healthcare online and citizens to store and readily access government documents such as tax returns on their phones.
Aliyu pointed out that the digitalization of government services has transformed the lives of the 273 million Indians who are classified as living in poverty. While noting progress in the adoption of ICT to deliver and manage government services in West Africa, the WATRA boss emphasized the need to scale up existing schemes in the sub-region.
Africa’s Smartphone Market Declines 3.4% In Q1
Africa’s smartphone market declined 3.4 per cent quarter on quarter (QoQ) in Q1 2023 to total 17 million units, the lowest level of shipments since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Q1 2020. That’s according to the latest figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC), with the firm’s newly released Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker showing that rising inflation and local currency depreciations against the U.S. dollar have negatively impacted demand for smartphones across the continent.
Shipments of feature phones across Africa also declined in Q1 2023, although not to the same extent as smartphones. Feature phones remain relatively affordable and are still the preferred secondary device option for many consumers.
“Africa’s smartphone declined throughout 2022 amid weak consumer demand, and this has been exacerbated by rising inflation and higher device prices,” says George Mbuthia, a senior research analyst at IDC. “The average selling price (ASP) for smartphones grew QoQ due to high import costs and the fact that many vendors’ flagship devices are now equipped with 5G and have therefore moved up in price to the premium segment.”
Africa’s top 3 smartphone markets recorded a mixed performance in Q1 2023. South Africa and Nigeria both saw shipments decline QoQ, while the Egyptian market registered growth. South Africa was impacted by seasonality issues and weak demand, meaning vendors were unable to bring in new units while they continued to clear the channel. Egypt remains below its potential, but local assembly is picking up in the country and the government has now dropped its “letters of credit” requirement for vendors, both of which have helped the market to recover from its low base.
Transsion (Tecno, Itel, and Infinix) accounted for the largest share for smartphone shipments across Africa in Q1 2023, despite experiencing a decline in units. Samsung placed second, while Xiaomi came in third.
YouTube’s Alex Okosi Highlights The Need For A Comprehensive Digital Trade Strategy For Africa
YouTube’s Managing Director, Emerging Markets, EMEA, Alex Okosi, was among the key speakers at the Africa Debate 2023, which took place recently at the Guildhall in London.
Okosi’s session, titled “Building a Comprehensive Digital Trade Strategy for Africa,” highlighted the challenges facing Africa in terms of digital infrastructure despite advancements in digital trade and e-commerce. He debated the best path forward for a digital trade strategy, with a focus on the 7th protocol of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on e-commerce.
Joining Okosi on the panel were Michelle Chivunga, a Digital Trade Expert for AfCFTA and Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Global Policy House, who moderated the session, as well as Wayne Hennessy-Barrett, Chief Executive Officer, 4G Capital; Peter Njonjo, Chief Executive Officer, Twiga Foods; Toulay Oueslati, Head of Trade Finance & Commodity Trade Finance, Bank of Africa United Kingdom and Hardy Pemhiwa, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, Cassava Technologies.
Organized by Invest Africa, a leading business and investment platform with over sixty years of experience on the continent, and in partnership with Africa Finance Corporation, the event was in its 9th year and focused on Africa’s trade profile through a comprehensive programme of talks, discussions, and networking opportunities.
“I believe that digital trade has the potential to transform Africa’s economy and improve trade relations with the rest of the world. However, to achieve this goal, we need to address the challenges of infrastructure development, regulatory frameworks, and digital skills training,” Okosi said.
The panel discussion explored the future of African trade and how the private sector can best support and prepare for a more integrated and competitive African trade environment.
“Collaboration between governments, businesses, and financial institutions is crucial in creating an enabling environment for digital trade. This includes developing regulatory frameworks, financing solutions, and digital infrastructure,” Okosi added.
Okosi is a highly experienced television, content, and tech executive with over 25 years of experience building successful businesses and brands globally. He has a track record of identifying and scaling new business opportunities, generating multi-million-dollar revenue streams, and delivering profitable growth.
Currently serving as Managing Director, Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA, Okosi has been instrumental in driving the platform’s growth across key verticals, including music, gaming, TV/film, kids & family, news, and sports. In 2022, Okosi was named one of the UK Powerlist’s 100 most influential people of black heritage for the second year in a row.