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CBN, MTN Settle Out of Court

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  • $8.1bn Repatriation: CBN, MTN Settle Out of Court

Telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, said on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the Central Bank of Nigeria over the $1.8bn being demanded from it by the apex bank.

The $1.8bn demand by the CBN followed alleged forex remittances infraction by MTN.

Rather than yield to the demand, MTN, through its lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN|), sued the CBN and the Attorney General of the Federation before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

In the suit filed before Justice Saliu Saidu, the telecoms firm challenged the powers of the defendants to make the monetary demand from it and prayed the court to restrain them from coming after it.

However, at the December 4, 2018 proceedings in the case, the parties told the court that they were opting for an out-of-court settlement and prayed for a short adjournment to be able to talk.

When they returned to the court on Thursday, Olanipekun said his client had finally reached an agreement with the CBN.

He presented before the court a document containing the terms of the settlement between the parties, which he said, they would love the court to endorse as its judgment on the case.

Mr Henry Ejiofor, who stood in for CBN’s lead counsel, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), confirmed the position.

Counsel for the AGF, Olanike Idenu, did not oppose the application by MTN and CBN but urged the court to strike out the name of the AGF from the suit.

Justice Saidu thanked the parties for saving the precious time of the court and sparing it the rigours of litigation.

He struck out the name of the AGF from the suit and adopted the terms agreed upon by the parties as the judgment in the suit.

In the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, MTN had urged the court to declare that the CBN acted ultra vires its statutory powers when it wrote an August 28, 2018 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1bn.

The firm urged the court to hold that the CBN’s $8.1bn demand was “illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.”

The telecommunications giant urged the court to declare that “the 1st defendant’s decision in its letter of August 28, 2018, with Ref No GBD/GOV/COM/DGF/118/121, addressed to the plaintiff and titled, ‘Investigation into the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of the illegal capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited’ were reached in breach of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing.”

It also urged the court to void a September 3, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF, demanding $8.1bn as “penalties for the offence of ‘infraction of forex remittances’.”

MTN sought a court order “restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from giving effect to the decisions, demands and directives in their letters of August 28, 2018, and September 3, 2018, respectively.”

However, the CBN, in its statement of defence and counter-claim, urged the court to dismiss MTN’s suit, insisting that the telecommunications giant must refund $8.1bn to the Federal Government.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Facebook Launches 2021 Edition of “My Digital World” Across Sub-Saharan Africa to Meet Digital Literacy Needs

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Today, Facebook announced the launch of the 2021 edition of “My Digital World“. Originally launched in June 2020, ‘My Digital World is a digital literacy program which is accessible across Sub-Saharan Africa  and designed to provide young people and the general public with the skills needed to navigate digital spaces safely and responsibly. 

The 2021 edition of “My Digital World” is now accessible on the new website that hosts new updated content that is relevant to today’s realities.

The program provides educators and trainers with training and resources to reach young people across Sub-Saharan Africa, equipping them with information and skills to help them thrive in an increasingly complex and digitally connected world.

“Through My Digital World, Facebook is reaching learners across the region and shaping the Sub-Saharan digital community for the better,” Phil Oduor, Policy Programs Manager for Economic Impact and Digital Literacy at Facebook said, “Designed for young people aged 13 – 18 years in high-tech and low-tech communities, the content has adaptable step-by-step instructions to fit their needs and learning environment. The lessons help participants learn tangible skills such as protecting personal information, identifying reputable sources, understanding misinformation themes, and recognizing healthy online relationships.”

‘My Digital World’ lessons are divided across six content pillars:

●      Introduction to Digital Learning: Demonstrating to learners what the internet is, identifying information that can be shared over the internet, determining various methods for accessing information online, and identifying the benefits, roles, and responsibilities of digital citizenship.

●      Digital Foundations: Teaching learners how to leverage tools to protect their digital devices and their personal information online, as well as that of others.

●      Digital Wellness: Supporting learners’ ability to engage with others (both individuals and the larger collective) online in empathic and positive ways, protect their physical and mental health, and explore their identities.

●      Digital Engagement: Helping learners develop executive functioning, critical thinking, and the skills needed to evaluate and share media and information online, as well as engage with different cultures and contexts.

●      Digital Empowerment: Helping learners use technology and social media to create positive change and better opportunities for themselves, their communities, and the world.

●      Digital Opportunities: Preparing learners to create the next wave of technology and succeed in their careers and pathways.

Over the years, Facebook has trained thousands of African youths through existing digital literacy programs across Sub saharan Africa such as ‘Safe Online with Facebook’ in Nigeria, ‘Ilizwe Lam’ in South Africa and ‘eZibo’ in Zambia.  With the program also successfully implemented in Ethiopia, Côte D’Ivoire, Kenya and Senegal,  “My Digital World” will, this year, be launched in Ghana, in partnership with Junior Achievement Ghana.

All content is available and can be accessed for free, the program will be available in English, French, Kiswahili, and Amharic.

‘My Digital World’ partnered with organizations across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop the learning modules and resources in the curriculum. 

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Fund Raising

Autochek Secures $13.1M Funding to Scale Across Africa

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Automotive and Fintech company, Autochek has raised $13.1 Million in seed funding to expand its operations across Africa. 

Participants in its latest funding round include existing investors such as Golden Palm Investments, Enza Capital, Lateral Capital, TLcom Capital, and 4DX Ventures. First-time investors such as Mobility 54 Investment SAS, the venture capital arm of Toyota Tshusho, and ASK Capital also participated in the round.

Recall that last year, Autochek raised $3.4 Million in pre-seed funding to grow its markets in Nigeria and Ghana. That round also saw TLcom Capital, 4DX Ventures, and Golden Palm Investments in participation. The funding came months after Autochek acquired marketplaces Cheki Ghana and Cheki Nigeria from one of Africa’s largest classifieds Group, ROAM Africa. The company continued its expansion by acquiring Cheki Kenya and Cheki Uganda to expand into East Africa. The company also partnered with CFAO Group to bring its marketplace into the Francophone region.

Cheki was launched in 2010 as an online car classified for dealers, importers, and private sellers in Nigeria. The startup, headquartered in Lagos, expanded operations to Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In 2017, Cheki got acquired by ROAM and joined a list of online marketplaces and classifieds in its network like Jobberman.

Autochek is currently present in five African countries, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Uganda and according to reports, the company has set its sights northwards and southward on the continent towards the second-largest and third-largest economies in Africa, South Africa, and Egypt.

Autochek is an automotive/fintech company that was founded by the co-founder and chief executive of Jiji subsidiary Cars45, Etop Ikpe. Autochek’s platform operates a marketplace-driven model and has a focus on financing and after-sales. The company generates revenue through fees charged on customer transactions and commissions paid by dealers and service shops on the platform, the company also has financing partnerships with banks.

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Fund Raising

Nigerian Agri-tech Procurement Platform, Vendease Secures $3.2M Seed Round To Expand Operations

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Vendease, a Nigerian agri-tech startup that allows restaurants and hotels to order food supplies directly from farms and food manufacturers at the best price, has raised US$3.2 million in a seed round to expand operations.

The seed round was led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm Global Founders Capital. Others are local investors and early backers such as Paga CEO Tayo Oviosu, Remita CEO John Obaro, and Magic Fund.  Y Combinator participants like Hustle Fund, Liquid 2 Ventures, Hack VC and Soma Capital also invested in the startup.

Vendease was founded by Tunde Kara, Olumide Fayankin, Gatumi Aliyu and Wale Oyepeju in January 2020 to help solve food supply chain problems by digitising procurement processes, storage operations and logistics. A flexible payment system was integrated to facilitate transactions on the platform.

Earlier this year, Vendease was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 cohort and has developed mobile and web apps that allow food businesses to place orders for food supplies, manage inventories, track expenses and gain access to their credit facilities with a buy now pay later service.

In achieving this, Vendease has built a network of farmers and food manufacturers to foster a solid food supply on its platform, speed up delivery and ascertain the quality of food production.

In September, Vendease reported to have delivered approximately 100,000 metric tonnes of food and plans to expand its capacities with the $3.2 million seed round.

Mr. Tunde Kara, Cofounder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Vendease said, “the rising food inflation coupled with effects of COVID-19 across Africa has positioned Vendease to scale up food systems by digitising end-to-end processes from farm to table. We currently operate out of Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, but this funding will act as a buoy for us, as we scale our solution to other cities across the continent,”

Mr. Kara further explained that the company has created a predictive analysis and storage system that will help businesses predict future food prices, store food in advance and peg their prices for any duration depending on the food category.

This process, according to the CEO, has saved businesses on the platform a lot of money and human capital. He said, “when we compare market prices to what users buy on our platform, we’ve approximately saved them about $480,000 in the last nine months, cutting a lot of unnecessary expenses from their general costs — savings that can go into other things in terms of expansion and growth.”

Mr. Kara says the company hopes to 10x this number in the next 12 to 18 months. “Proactively, in our small way, we are helping to grow the GDP for the food businesses both on the farmers and vendor side of the marketplace.” He said.

The CEO said Vendease will use the newly raised $3.2 million to expand its operations to other cities and countries before the end of the first quarter of 2022. In addition, the funding would allow Vendease to continue to build out its technology stack, as well as secure partnerships with some payment platforms and banks to deepen its financial products, especially its buy now and pay later.

Don Stalter, the managing partner of Global Founders Capital, said it was the quality of the team that attracted his firm to Vendease. He said, “as a backer of one of Africa’s very first unicorns, Jumia, we’ve seen a great deal of talent in the market – and Tunde and the Vendease team are best in class both in EMEA and globally. Their laser focus and rapid growth are unprecedented, and there’s a massive opportunity ahead,” he said.

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