Adebayo Adesanya: Senior Software Engineer and Slayer of Code Dragons

Top software develops are moving out of Nigeria en masse in search of greener pastures abroad, and the Lagos-born Adebayo Adesanya is an ideal example of a great loss to the Nigerian tech ecosystem. Adebayo Adesanya went from working with Andela in Lagos to joining the tech team of Candis, a Berlin-based firm that automates accounting processes.

The Lagos-born Adebayo Adesanya acquired his Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information System from Covenant University, and he started his professional career as an Intern, Airtel KYC Support Personnel for Seamfix Nigeria. He later moved on to other companies including Grappeline Technologies, L5Lab, Kamdora and Konga, before landing as the Technical Team Lead in Andela in 2017.

However, Adebayo’s motivation for leaving the country was never for more money as he always had a marginal increase in pay. According to him, “I love challenges. Its plethora of possibilities interlaced with solutions makes it seem like a clandestine code, which has to be deciphered. That is why I became a Software Developer and that is what makes me curious about life and my career”

But, “there are no rewards for long service,” he said. So, while he had never been one of the abroad fanatics, he began to seriously consider relocating. He had offers from prominent tech companies in Nigeria, but he didn’t think any of them could fulfil his career needs, and he was of the opinion that he had seen all that the companies had to offer, and a gig outside the country would expose him to new experiences.

Currently, Adebayo works at Candis.io as a Senior Software Engineer, an opportunity he got after signing up on the job platform, Honeypot, where companies in Europe hire developers regularly. Though he got two good offers from German companies, he opted for Candis.io, because, as he says, “The product was both interesting and challenging, and the team seemed like a great one to join.”

At Candis, he works on a team of full-stack software engineers in maintaining and innovating on the Candis Financial Accounting Platform in other to provide easy to use Automated Accounting for small and medium-sized companies, and every day, he “slay new dragons.”

He works in a diverse team with people from across the world. Despite this, he is still the only black person out of the 70 employees working at Candis. According to him, he jokes about being the odd man out, saying, “I joke at work that I don’t have to do anything to stand out. I stand out by default.

 

 

Opera-Owned OPay Formally Launches OBus Barely a Week after OTrike

Opera-owned OPay launches OBus, a bus hailing service, last Saturday in Lagos. This launch is coming barely a week after the introduction of OTrike in Aba.

Currently, Opera runs one of the biggest startups in Nigeria, and in its plan to become a multi-service commercial Internet platform, it has added personal loans, tricycle hailing, food hailing and now a bus hailing service to its platform within the past months.

The launch of OBus comes not too long after the launch of OTrike, a tricycle hailing service in Aba. With OBus, OPay appears to be on its way to beat the market dominance odds to becoming the go-to platform in Nigeria for quite a number of services.

As it is still in its Beta phase, OBus is only available in few locations in Lagos State, operating along the CMS-Ikeja routes. You can only access the OBus service using the updated OPay app. According to an OPay staff, “OBus is like normal buses but it is more comfortable and supports cashless payments.”

To pay for bus trips, you have to use an OBus card, it is a QR-enabled card that comes in different denominations — as low as ₦200 ($0.55) and as high as ₦2000 ($5.51). You can purchase the cards at different designated bus stops from OPay agents.

Payments are made by placing the card over a sensor reader inside the bus. The sensor then reads the ticket barcode which was generated through the mobile app before the trip and withdrawal will be made immediately.

An OBus Card can be used for multiple trips until the credit is exhausted. Alternatively, payments can also be made through the OPay wallet, as with other OPay services.

One can only wonder what line of service the Norway-based company will go into next, and its next product line, given its heavy $50m funding. Perhaps, this is a means of proving to investors how effectively the recent funding is being utilised.

Regarding concerns about his company’s speed of product and services expansion, the OPay staff explains it away as a means of testing new waters.

“I admit that OPay is moving very fast. However, I believe we will learn from experience, just like Gokada which is having its share of challenges already.”

 

 

Elegbe: Financial Inclusion, Elections and Technology in Nigeria

Last week in New York, Verve, the 11-year-old Pan-African payment card brand owned by Interswitch, extended its reach to countries outside Africa to allow users make transactions in 185 countries around the world. Verve in partnership with Discover Global Network, a leading US card platform, released the Verve Global Card which allows for international and cross-border transactions.

In a recently conducted interview with thisdaylive, Mitchell Elegbe, the Managing Director of InterSwitch Group, spoke on the new Verve Global Card as the evolution of financial inclusion in Nigeria, and went on to discuss how the adoption of technology can change the outlook of the electoral system in Nigeria.

Accessing the financial inclusion journey in the country, Elegbe opined that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented lots of “improvement and new policies” towards achieving the financial inclusion targets in the country. As an instance, he mentioned the Payment Service Banks (PSBs), which is targeted at mobile network operators (telcos), because of their wide-reaching distributions.

Speaking on barriers to achieving the financial inclusion targets set by CBN, Elegbe said that for some financial inclusion is unnecessary, because they lack money which is a fundamental requirement for financial inclusion. He also said that, “For some others, it is in and out – as money is coming in, it is going out, so why should I save it. So, what that basically means is that the kind of transaction you need to do for them to be financially included should be an in and out kind of transactions, because they don’t have enough money to save

To buttress his point, he gave a convincing illustration, saying, “there are people that every day they would leave their houses to collect items from distributors, go to the roadside to sell them, like the hawkers in traffic. Those guys live from hand to mouth. If you tell them to bank their money, you would be wasting your time because their bank is in their pocket. The only way they would even listen to you is if you can create a product that looks at what they do. For instance, they always have issues with ‘change’ when someone buys from them in the traffic, that is why you see them always chasing cars. But if you give them a solution that eliminates the need for ‘change’ they would adopt it, because you have solved a problem for them.”

Explaining the root of the current financial inclusion crisis in the country, he said, “But what is happening is that some of us who wear suit and tie are designing products for people who don’t wear suit and tie. We don’t understand their lives and what they need most. But you can see that sometimes if you understand the way people live, it is easier to find solutions for them. So, one of the learnings for me is that if you want to solve my problems, you need to understand my problems and you need to feel it. Once you do that, then it is easier.”

On the issue of election challenges in Nigeria, Mitchell Elegbe claimed that technology is the solution. Speaking on this, he said, “There are easier ways to carry out voting that would not cost the entire country what it cost us today. Today, it is too expensive to conduct an election. So, like you rightly said, we have a combination of technology that can be used. There are people that have registered for national identity card, there are people who have Bank Verification Number (BVN), driver’s licence and so on.

So, once you know these people, we now have to make the various data base talk to each other, so that you can easily find out if someone has voted using his driver’s licence and he is attempting to vote again using his BVN. So, because you can see that person from the data base, you disallow that. We all know about blockchain. One of the big uses of blockchain is called the Single Source of Truth, which all of us can see what is happening because of the way it is designed. Blockchain will be a good solution to use for elections. The truth is that there is a way to make it happen and there is technology that can be used to make it a lot easier

 

Sim Shagaya, Ex-Konga Boss Joins the Plateau State Government in an Advisory Capacity

Sim Shagaya resigned as CEO of eCommerce company, Konga in January 2016, and today, Friday, August 16th, 2019, he joined the Plateau State government as an advisor.

As founder and CEO of one of the most valued eCommerce companies in Nigeria, Shagaya led Konga to a successful showing in the Nigerian eCommerce space, and he oversaw many funding rounds worth a combined sum of $127 million. In 2014, he was named in Forbes’ list of “10 Most Powerful Men in Africa.”

Now, it is expected that the Harvard-educated former military officer will leverage his knowledge of economics and profound understanding of the technology business to help Plateau State revive its economy which has been ravaged and battered by religious and intra-ethnic clashes in recent times.

The ex-Konga CEO took to his Twitter page today saying, “I’m pleased to share that I’ve been invited and accepted to serve as a member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Executive Governor of Plateau State. This is a part of Nigeria that I care deeply about and I hope I can be of significant service

The news of this followed with multiple congratulations as Nigerians expressed hope that Sim Shagaya will be able to boost the economy of the State, and create awareness about the beauty, climactic condition and abundant food in the State.

Bosun Tijani AFCFTA Ecosystem Meetup in Kigali: Ezekwesili Addresses African Youths on Making AFCFTA a Success

Yesterday, August 15 2019, over 80 people from 30 African countries gathered in Kigali, the Rwandan capital to discuss the creation of a solid framework to guarantee the success of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA)

The AFCFTA is a trade agreement signed by all 54 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018. It entered its operational phase on 7 July, 2019 at a summit in Niger. The goal is to unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, remove 90% of tariff on goods across the continent, and heat up commerce within the continent itself.

According to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, “The success of the AFCFTA will be the real test to achieve the economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into a reality

On day one of the two-day summit held at the Co-creation Hub’s Design Lab, industry leaders in the technology and creative ecosystems were in attendance. The choice of Kigali as the location is significant, as it was there in March 2018 that almost 50 countries signed the AFCFTA agreement.

In an interview with TechCabal last week, Bosun Tijani, the founder of CcHub, said, “the aim of the meet-up is to come together as dual industries to iron out details and make a concerted effort to ensure readiness ahead of the July 2020 flag-off.”

The opening address was given by Tijani where he urged participants to seize what could be a momentous moment in African history, before going on to introduce the panellists for the first session. The panellists were Vuyisa Qabaka of South Africa, Simeon Umukori, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, and Ojoma Ochai of Nigeria, and Norbert Haguma from Rwanda.

The topics discussed by the panel ranged from what it means to be African, the various issues that need to be tackled for the success of AFCFTA, to the role of governments across Africa.

The outstanding moment of the panel occurred when Aboyeji, of Andela and Flutterwave, said young people need to take matters into their own hands and not wait for government intervention. According to him, “This is a grassroots movement. If we wait for the government, the agreement won’t work. We’ll wait forever.”

After the panel, Oby Ezekwesili, a one-time education minister in Nigeria and former World Bank Vice President gave a keynote speech.

In a tweet yesterday, she said, “Rewarding time in Kigali today! I spoke @bosuntijani -led Ecosystem meetup that ‘kick-starts opportunities to demonstrate immediate value of the free trade agreement in a short space of time, while building significant businesses that can create unprecedented value’.”

In her speech, she was full of praise for the spirit of can-do possessed by African youth who organised the meet-up, saying that the success of the AFCTCA depends largely on the younger generation.

Following this, the head of TRwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi spoke of Rwanda’s commitment to being a haven for ideas, strategically placing itself as a proof of concept nation”

After her speech, the participants were allowed to split into two groups to work on effective communication strategies to be deployed, and how to interact with African government to formulate policies as regards the AFCFTA.

The meet-up continues today.

Kobo360 Logistics Platforms Raises US$30 Million Funding

The Nigerian digital technology freight logistics startup, Kobo360 has raised a total sum of $30 million funding; part debt funding and part venture funding. It raised a $20 million Series A equity round led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Asia Africa Investment and Consulting Pte, and existing investors including the International Finance Corporation, Y Combination and TLcom Capital.

The company also announced that it raised an additional $10 million in local currency working capital from Nigerian commercial banks. This new funding round follows a $6 million seed investment last year led by the International Finance Corporation which enabled the company to expand to Togo, Ghana and Kenya.

In a statement on Wednesday, 14th of August, the company said it plans to broaden its reach in Africa significantly by entering ten new countries beyond its current operating markets of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Kenya by the end of 2020. According to the CEO, Obi Ozor, the final decisions on the 10 new countries will be made by the first quarter 2020.

With the funding, the team said it will “continue to scale the organisation, develop the technology offering, and accelerate supply growth.”

Kobo360 is also “planning to add 25,000 drivers to the platform in the coming months to power the recent Africa Trade Continental Agreement, expected to catalyse intra-African trade.

Speaking on this, Obi Ozor, Co-founder and CEO of Kobo360 said, “Our Series A allows us to invest in growing our talented team that is working hard on the ground to systematically address the inefficiencies within the African logistics sector, and strengthen our already extensive network of clients and truck owners across the continent.

We are also focusing on developing the partnership with drivers, ensuring that they are trained to use mobile-enabled technology, so they can convey goods seamlessly and earn more money. We are already seeing drivers running trips on the Kobo360 platform increase their monthly earnings by 40%, as we work together to mobilise logistics across Africa.

As a cross-border freight service, the company intends to maximise this funding to benefit from the Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) which was signed this year by all the 54 countries in Africa to reduce friction and barriers on Pan-African commercial activity.

The startup expects to have a voice in the final implementation of AFCTA, in addition to lower costs for its country-to-country freight movement. On this, Ozor said, “We’re going to do some policy work through the IFC so we can help shape AFCTA. The key to the deal is really logistics, so if the logistics component doesn’t work out the deal isn’t going to work”.

The company’s plan is to use a part of this new funding to build out its Global Logistics Operating System. GLOS (shortened form) is a blockchain-enabled platform that will help the company to transition to more supply-chain services.

Launched in 2017 by two Nigerian entrepreneurs – Obi Ozor and Ife Oyedele II, this latest funding has made Kobo360 the second top-funded transport and logistics startup in Africa with investors betting on the company’s ability to meet a rise in demand for cargo deliveries while riding on the back of the AFCFTA.

Facebook Partners with Africa Check as it Expands its Fact-Checking Coverage to Yoruba and Other Local African Languages

Yesterday, on August 14 2019, Facebook – the popular social media platform announced its partnership with Africa Check – an independent fact-checking organisation to add several local languages including Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Sotho, Afrikaans as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme.

In essence, the focus of this partnership is top combat the spread of fake news in local languages, and to ensure that Africans assess accurate news on Facebook.  The social media giant announced in January this year that it will be investing $300 million in local news globally, an investment with the aim of fighting against the spread of misinformation.

Speaking on this, the Facebook Head of Public Policy, Kojo Boakye said, “We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities. Our third-party fact-checking programme is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook. We know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to this.”

Fake news will be tackled in Nigeria using major languages such as Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa; in South Africa, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele; Swahili in Kenya and Wolof in Senegal.

The Executive Director of Africa Check, Noko Makgato commented saying, “We’re thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, it also means we’ll be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information.”

The Facebook Fact-Checking Programme was first launched in Kenya in 2018. With this programme, stories that are identified as fake are moved down the news feed and tagged with warnings that prevent users from reposting or sharing to reduce the dissemination of false news.

OPay Expands to Eastern Nigeria: OPay Launches in Full Force in Aba with OTrike

Founded by the same guys who run the Opera browser and Okash, the OPay startup has established its footing in Eastern Nigeria with the recent launch of OTrike in Aba, southeast of Nigeria.

Over the past 18 months, bike hailing startups have become major players in the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, with each competing for market share and traction. Among these startups, OPay is one of the most recognised for its aggressive advancements and user-friendly discounts.

This disruptive startup first started in 2018 as a mobile payment platform focused on the massive unbanked population in Nigeria. Since then, it has diversified into the bike hailing service, ORide and the food delivery service, OFood.

ORide launched first in May 2019 in Lagos, but it has since expanded into other major cities like Ibadan. Nearly a year after its entry into the Nigerian market, this startup has come up with another strategic service involving commercial tricycles (popularly known as kekes).

This new tricycle hailing service, referred to as OTrike, is making its debut in Aba. Just like ORide, discounts apply for trips less than NGN400 within the first launch month (August). Users can take trips to anywhere in Aba for NGN20, while it costs NGN50 to hire a private charter.

Located in Abia state, Aba city is popular for its market and its numerous business men and women. The city, with an industry-driven population of 2,434,265, has a market of those that patronise “keke-napeps” for transporting themselves and their goods from one destination to another. We expect that this market is large enough to adequately accommodate OTrike without eliminating independent tricycle operators.

Similar to ORide, OTrike is accessible via the OPay app, residents of Aba can utilise it in transporting to and fro any destination in the city

The launch of OTrike follows from the $50 million funding which OPay raised early last month with Source Code Capital, IDG Capital and Sequoia China as lead investors.

 

Gokada Shuts Down, Really? Here are the Reasons for the Shutdown – the Gokada 2.0 Initiative

Yes, the news is true. From Wednesday, August 14th 2019, the motorbike hailing service, Gokada, has partially shut down its operations after the CEO faced “operational” hurdles during a ride. All Gokada pilots are currently off the road and the Gokada app has been shut down.

A check on the Gokada app shows that it is currently undergoing maintenance work. A message on the app reads that, “Gokada is currently undergoing a scheduled relaunch of our service. We will be back online better than ever, August 26th! Sorry for the inconvenience.”

That’s right, Gokada is not shutting down permanently. Also, Gokada is not shutting down according to the perceived reasons of too much competition, insufficient funds, and what have you. According to the CEO and Co-Founder, Fahim Saleh, it all started when he took a trip which was supposed to last 5 mins from the Mainland Bridge to Victoria Island, but turned out to be 15 mins.

While narrating this disappointing experience, he asked some pertinent rhetorical questions, “How could I be the CEO of Gokada, the company that pioneered motorcycle ride-haili9ng in Nigeria and be experiencing this?”

Speaking further, he said, “I was disappointed in Gokada but most of all, I was disappointed in myself. I told the pilot to pull over to the side of the road, I would hop over the median and wait for an Uber. ‘This is what it has come to,’ I thought

The problem Saleh faced is not uncommon among users of the various ride-hailing platforms in Nigeria. Even with the Google Maps for navigation, this problem is still prevalent. What’s more, some drivers are known for the uncouth act of taking longer routes to the destination in a bid to maximise profit.

As a way forward, Saleh, after his criticisms, have said that there will be a change in the perception of bike taxi in terms of convenience, safety and transparency, starting from Gokada. He further announced the Gokada 2.0 initiative which involve;

  • brand new bikes of much better quality
  • Drivers retrained on hygiene, customer service, navigation use and driving
  • New Bluetooth helmets, adhering to maximum speeds and all traffic laws
  • Happier Drivers

Apologising to users on the temporary shutdown, Saleh said, “Big problems require big solutions. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you in the short term. But in the long run, we firmly believe that when you want to get somewhere fast, safe, and hassle-free – there won’t be any other app you’d want to open than Gokada. Stay safe. Stay green

Read Full Story of Saleh Experience

In a medium post, Fahim Saleh narrated his full experience,

“Well, a little over a week ago I had taken a Gokada hoping to avoid traffic to get to the mainland bridge from VI. From there I planned to take a car. I opened the Gokada app, requested, got a pilot, and waited patiently for him to arrive. I called to confirm my location which the pilot said he knew. 5 minutes pass by.. and the pilot had not moved. Another 5 minutes pass and the pilot was going in the wrong direction. After 15 minutes and three phone calls, the pilot finally arrived at which point I’m thinking it might have been faster to take a car all the way through. Upon questioning the pilot, I learned that he didn’t use GPS on his phone because the earplugs he had were broken. Irritated, I motioned him to get started with the ride as I was in a hurry. It should be pretty obvious how to get to the mainland bridge from VI, so I didn’t concern myself with providing him directions but I knew from Google Maps using the best route, it should only take 10–15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, we were still on the road. I hastily took out my phone and did a quick input of the directions to the bridge and realized we were still 15 minutes away. This pilot had taken a long route to get to the bridge, one that would have been completely avoided had he used the map. I motioned that I would direct him based on the Google Maps navigation. Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the bridge I directed the pilot to a wrong turn which would have required us to turn all the way around. At this point, it was obvious that a car would have been much faster even with all the traffic.”

 

ARNERGY SOLAR Searches for More Partnerships

Are you interested in seeing Nigeria with 24 hours of electricity, powered by clean solar energy? If yes, then you should listen to the Arnergy’s clarion call for partners.

Yesterday, August 8, Arnergy tweeted saying, “We are looking for partners. At Arnergy, we are keen on spreading the benefits of solar energy across the board.”

ARNERGY is a Nigerian cleantech company that designs, manufactures and commoditises rent to own solar energy solutions. Its goal is to provide affordable and reliable solar energy solutions to businesses and homes.

With over five years’ experience in business and over 2000 paying customers, Arnergy has been delivering energy solutions for productive use all over Nigeria. It does this by deploying services, products and systems that power the operations of various businesses and improve the economy status of clients.

The company has reduced pollution and carbon emission in specific regions, and it is now recognized as a distributed utility that reduces the pressure on the national grid and allows the local grid to serve industrial zones.

Arnergy recognises that reliable supply of electricity is a major challenge for hospitals across Nigeria. Consequently, it has designed systems to solve power supply reliability issues for quality healthcare delivery. If you’ll love to partner with Arnergy to achieve this and other of its electricity-related goals, then you can apply here. Based on the company statement, application suitability is for,

  • individuals with B2B sales skills
  • individuals passionate about energy for reliability for small businesses
  • Skilled installers and engineering technicians who would love to join the fast-growing network of a distributed utility company
  • individuals who believe in the future of renewable energy to power reliability for small businesses.

Arnergy is reducing the energy poverty in Nigeria, and it is making small and medium-sized enterprises to operate profitably with flexible payment for energy services.