Here are the technology news, startup, and VC deals we tracked across the African region this week.
- Nigeria-based agriculture-focused fintech company Tingo is raising $500 million to expand its operations in Africa, according to a Bloomberg report. The funding is a combination of debt and equity financing via a private placement, which could value the company at about $6.3 billion. The company plans to commit $100 million to a fund that will increase credit to mostly women farmers. Tingo claims it serves around 12 million customers, mostly rural farmers, leasing smartphones connecting customers to produce markets, and more. Tingo also offers an e-commerce platform that processes about $4 billion in transactions per year. The company posted revenue of $594 million in 2020, with EBITDA at $212 million. Tingo says it will list on the New York Stock Exchange in the first half of this year.
- Egypt launched a $50 million venture capital programme to finance new and existing investment funds, in collaboration with the World Bank. The aim of the programme is to support young innovators, help them establish tech-focused projects and apps that facilitate peoples’ needs.
- Meta expanded the availability of Facebook Reels for iOS and Android to more than 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Africa, Seychelles, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Mali, Malawi, Lesotho, Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso. The company also introduced better ways to help creators to earn money, new creative tools, and more places to watch and create Facebook Reels. Before now, Reels was only available on Facebook in India, Mexico, Canada, the U.S.
- Nigeria-based B2B marketplace and embedded finance platform TradeDepot acquired its competitor Green Lion, one of Ghana's largest B2B e-commerce platforms, for an undisclosed sum.
- Telecommunication companies MTN and Mafab successfully paid the $273.6 million license fee required by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to operate 5G in the country.
- South African chat commerce company Clickatell raised $91 million in a Series C funding round led by Arrowroot Capital, with participation from Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, Endeavor Global, and Harvest, to accelerate product development and expand its footprint in the U.S.
- Kenyan B2B startup MarketForce closed a $40 million Series A round led by V8 Capital Partners, with participation from Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures, and Vastly Valuable Ventures.
- Congo-based startup Jambo, which is building Africa’s web3 user acquisition portal and democratizing access to crypto-based income-generation opportunities, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding.
- Fintech startup Canza Finance, an emerging markets neobank that is building the world’s largest non-institutional-based financial system, closed its $3.27 million seed round led by Fenbushi Capital to expand in Nigeria, South America, and Asia.
- South African startup Zindi raised $1 million in a seed round led by San Francisco-based Shakti VC, alongside Launch Africa Ventures, Founders Factory Africa, and five35.
- Egyptian-based restaurant technology startup OneOrder, which is solving Egyptian restaurants’ supply chain inefficiencies, raised $1 million in funding led by MENA-based Venture Capital firm A15, to expand into new markets and develop its technology platform.
- South African fintech startup Lipa Payments raised $660,000 from Empowerment Capital’s Imvelo Ventures to help it scale across the continent.
- Nigeria-based data science startup Voyance raised a $500,000 pre-seed round led by Beta Venture to continue on its plans to build a data and AI infrastructure for Africa.
The Draft provides a weekly roundup of the most important tech news across key emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Follow the rest of our coverage @techloy on Twitter.