- Nigerian Edtech Startup ULesson Raises $3.1m
ULesson, an Edtech startup, has raised $3.1 million in a seed round led by TLcom Capital.
ULesson seeks to bridge educational gaps — for secondary school students — with an integrated self-pace mobile learning platform that comes with SD Cards, culture-specific curriculum and a network of tutors.
Sim Shagaya, who founded e-commerce giant Konga and ad venture E-Motion, founded ULesson in 2019 in Lagos with a production studio in Jos.
According to Shagaya, ULesson is in a developmental stage and expected to hit the market in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia by February 2020.
“We’re targeting Anglophone West Africa…for a market of effectively 300 million people,” he said.
Speaking on demand, Shagaya said despite priority placed on education in West Africa, there is a big gap as the ratio of student to teacher is as high as 70:1 in nations like Nigeria.
“We have this massive gap…We’re adding more babies in this country nominally than all of Western Europe…Even if the [Nigerian] government was super efficient, it couldn’t catch up with the educational needs of the young people that are coming up.
“If you drill down to it all, all our problems in Africa are tied this problem of education…If we do this right, our impact will be huge. For me this is probably the most important work I’ll do,” he said.
NCC Sets Fresh Operational Fees, Spectrum Prices For Telecommunications Operators
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set up an annual operating regulatory levy to ensure that all licenses were properly and equitably assessed to meet statutory and regulatory expectations.
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, during the Public Inquiry on two regulatory instruments draft held on Thursday, in Abuja.
Danbatta explained that the two key regulatory instruments were tailored to meet the challenges and to further strengthen the market structure of the industry.
The instruments include the Annual Operating Regulations and the Frequency Spectrum Regulations, which fees and pricing fall under.
He said “The first instrument will bring the regulations in line with current realities and sustain the enviable contributions of the communications sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
“The second instrument is a vehicle that enables the commission to meet its role and exclusive mandate in Section 121 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 by assigning this scarce national resource in an equitable manner. The regulations also ensure that frequency spectrum are assigned and managed in a way that ensures fair pricing and efficient deployment of attendant services. The public inquiry is precursor to the commission’s current drive to ensure efficiency in spectrum management and unveiling of next-generation services through varied enablers.”
The NCC Boss informed that the Commission had commenced the process of deploying Fifth Generation (5G) technology in Nigeria, which largely depended on the appropriate frequency spectrum.
With the explosion in technologies, Danbatta said there was also an attendant secondary reliance on different approaches to maximize frequency spectrum.
He noted that this led to the need for designation of several bands of frequency spectrum for communications services and a key illustration was the recent identification of some Spectrum frequencies for 5G deployment.
Professor Danbatta assured that the Commission was conscious of the expectations and the need to ensure that the required regulatory frameworks were in place to meet these challenges.
He noted that this had made the reviews, which the Commission was conducting an important milestone as the public inquiry is pushing the country to the front queue of this global efforts.
“We must be prepared on both ends of the industry to push the country forward for these remarkable changes; while the licensees continue to invest in deployment. The Commission will sustain its drive-by ensuring regulatory efficiency and excellence,” the NCC Boss restated
He expressed optimism that the review would ensure effective and efficient utilization of frequency spectrum and also ensure a fair approach to the management of finance in the industry in the near future.
Danbatta urged participants to make their contributions freely and raise issues that would assist the Commission in developing and issuing regulatory instruments that would continually contribute to the development of the industry and sustain its positive contributions to the nation’s economy.
Earlier, in her address, the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services of the Commission, Ms. Josephine Amuwa, said the objective of the public inquiry was to secure the buy-in of all stakeholders and ensure the efficiency of the regulatory instruments when implemented.
She explained that the Commission decided to review the Annual Operating Regulations 2014 and the Frequency Pricing Regulations 2004 to ensure that the regulatory instruments issued were abreast with developments in the industry.
According to Amuwa, the Annual Operating Levy Regulations review will look at the current licensing structure and ensure that all the spectra of licensees will be properly covered.
“Another key part of the review is to clarify and clearly outline the benchmarks for assessment. This will not only ensure regulatory certainty but further entrench transparency in the process. On the other hand, the review of the second regulation, the Frequency Spectrum (Fees and Pricing) Regulations is expected to provide more guidelines on the parameter for determination of proper fees and pricing of spectrum. This will also make adequate provisions for different spectrum licensing processes and their assessment parameters,” she explained.
Present at the event were the Executive Commissioner, Technical Standards, Engineer Ubale Maska, the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Directors, Deputy and Assistant Directors as well as External Stakeholders.
Airtel Africa Customer Base Rises by 8.4 Percent to 120.8 Million in Q1, 2022
Airtel Africa Plc, a leading telecommunications company in Africa, grew its customer base by 8.4 percent to 120.8 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022.
The telecoms giant recorded strong revenue in Nigeria, up by 38.2 percent and posted 32.8 percent in East Africa while it achieved 24.9 percent in Francophone Africa.
Airtel Africa’s first quarter begins from April to June of the current year and the year ended in the first quarter of the following year. Hence, why it is quoted Q1 2022.
Airtel Africa Q1 Highlights
Q1’22 Reported revenue grew by 30.7% to $1,112m, with constant currency growth of 33.1%. Revenue growth partially benefitted from a weakened quarter in the prior year during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions across the region. Even after adjusting for these effects, revenue growth rates for the Group, service segments and reporting regions were all ahead of Q4’21 trends.
Strong revenue growth was recorded across all regions: Nigeria up 38.2%, East Africa up 32.8% and Francophone Africa up 24.9%; and across key services, with revenues for voice up 26.0%, data up 37.4% and mobile money up 53.7%.
Underlying EBITDA grew by 42.4% to $534m in reported currency, while constant currency growth was 46.2%.
Underlying EBITDA margin was 48.0%, an increase of 396 basis points(increase of 428 basis points in constant currency) led by both revenue growth and improved operational efficiencies.
Operating profit was $352m, up 67.6% in reported currency and 73.9% in constant currency.
Profit after tax more than doubled to $142m, up 148.7%, largely due to the higher operating profits along with stable net finance costs which more than offset the increase in tax charges due to increased profits.
Basic EPS was 3.3 cents, an increase of 200%, as a result of higher profit and stable finance costs and foreign exchange. EPS before exceptional items was 3.2 cents.
Operating free cash flow (underlying EBITDA less capex) was $428m, up 38.7%.
Customer base grew by 8.4% to 120.8 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.8%) and mobile money services (customer base up 24.6%). The slowdown in customer base growth was due to new SIM registration regulationsin Nigeria; excluding Nigeria the customer base grew by 15.9%.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, said “Our Q1’22 results have been very strong, with reported growth of 30.7% in revenue and 42.4% in underlying EBITDA, with constant currency growth of 33.1% and 46.2% respectively. Q1 of last year was impacted by the start of Covid, but even after adjusting for these effects, our Q1’22 revenue growth rates for the Group, service segments and reporting regions were all ahead of Q4’21 trends.
We have posted strong double-digit growth across voice (26.0%), data (37.4%) and mobile money (53.7%), and across all our regions. Sub-Saharan Africa is now experiencing a third wave of the pandemic. Governments are implementing balanced measures of lockdowns and restrictions. But vaccinations levelsremain very low. In these challenging times our business model has so far proven resilient, but we continue to monitor the situation closely for the potential impact on local economies and consumers.
Our total customer base has returned to growth with acceleration in our East Africa and Francophone regions and despite continuing negative net additions in Nigeria. With the easing of these restrictions in late April we have since been able to gradually increase locations for activations in line with regulatory compliance across Nigeria, and we have begun adding new customers.
Our continued focus on modernisation and rollout of our network, along with simplifying our products and improving our distribution, have all helped us to make handsome gains on our ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money. Our robust operating model and solid execution should enable us to continue our profitable growth.
We continue to see huge potential across voice, data and mobile money due to the low penetration levels in Africa, as we continue to partner the nations in bridging the digital divide and enhancing financial inclusion. We remain committed to continue to efficiently and effectively deliver services that help to improve the lives, communities and economies we serve.”
Google to Introduce Strike-Based System to Clamp Down on Advertisers Violating Google Ads Policies
The world’s leading search engine Google on announced it will introduce a new strike-based system to clamp down on advertisers who repeatedly violate the company’s ads policies.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the tech giant said the new strike based system would be introduced in September 2021, to be precise it said implementation of the new system will commence on September 21, 2021, “with a gradual ramp up over a period of 3 months, for the following policies: Enabling dishonest behavior, Unapproved substances, Guns, gun parts and related products, Explosives, Other Weapons, and Tobacco.”
“The policy coverage of the strike-based system will be expanded to add additional policies in phases over time and advertisers will be notified each time new policies are brought within scope of the strike-based system.
“Please note that this update does not impact the account suspension procedures for egregious Google Ads policy violations.”
To help ensure a safe and positive experience for users, Google requires advertisers to comply with Google Ads policies. As a part of the Google Ads enforcement system, Google will begin issuing strikes to advertisers, which will be accompanied by email notifications and in-account notifications to encourage compliance and deter repeat violations of our policies.
An advertiser’s first policy violation will only result in a warning. But advertisers will earn their first strike if we detect continued violation of our policies. Advertisers will be able to receive a maximum of three strikes, and the penalties applied with each strike will progressively increase. Temporary account holds will be applied for the first and second strikes (for 3 and 7 days respectively), while the third strike will result in an account suspension.
An advertiser placed on a temporary account hold will be required to remedy the violations in question and to submit an acknowledgement form to resume serving ads. Following this acknowledgement, their account will be released from the temporary account hold state either 3 days after the first strike was issued, or after 7 days for a second strike. Advertisers can also appeal a strike decision if they believe it was issued in error. Ads will resume serving immediately after successfully appealing the strike. Accounts will remain on temporary hold if no action is taken by the advertiser to either acknowledge or appeal a strike. Strikes will remain on the Google Ads account for 90 days unless they’re successfully appealed.
Accounts suspended following a third strike will not be able to run any ads or create new content unless the suspension is successfully appealed. Learn more about suspended accounts.
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