Here are the technology news, startup, and VC deals we tracked across the African region this week.

  • Nigeria-based digital payroll and human resource management platform Bento has expanded to Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda, with plans to launch in Egypt, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, and Ethiopia by the end of next year.
  • MTN has announced that its customers in South Africa will now be able to pay for purchases from Apple and its services, including Apple Music, using their airtime.
  • Kenyan fintech startup Kwara, a neobank that is making traditional savings cooperatives become digital banks, has raised $4 million in a seed round.
  • Nigerian edtech startup uLesson says it has closed a $15 million Series B round, about a year after it raised a $7.5 million Series A round.
  • U.S.-based digital infrastructure company Equinix has announced its acquisition of MainOne, a leading West African data center and connectivity solutions provider, with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire, for $320 million.
  • African startups are set to reach $5 billion in venture funds raised by the end of 2021, according to Briter Bridges, a London-based company that tracks investments into African startups.
  • Ivory Coast-based fintech startup CinetPay, which enables merchants to accept and make electronic payments online or via mobile Point of Sale (PoS) devices, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding from 4DX Ventures and Flutterwave.
  • African e-commerce giant, JUMIA has announced that its Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) reached $150 million, up 30% year-over-year, and orders reached 4.3 million, up 39% year-over-year, during its Black Friday campaign in November 2021.
  • South African digital bank Tyme Bank, which boasts 4 million customers, has completed its Series B funding of about $70 million from Chinese Internet giant Tencent and CDC Group to accelerate the rollout of financial services to its mass-market customer base.
  • Nigerian cold chain tech company Gricd, which uses Internet of Things (IoT) to enable last-mile delivery of temperature-sensitive products, has teamed up with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to deliver 4.2 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine across the country.
  • Kenya has signed an amended Central Bank Act, 2021, giving its Central Bank the authority "to license digital lenders in the country as well as ensure the existence of fair and non-discriminatory practices in the credit market," amid consumer privacy concerns.

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.