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Why African Tech Startups Fail and How to Mitigate Risk

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Tech Startups

By Otori Emmanuel

Technological start-ups in Africa are innovative about providing solutions to challenges that exist in Africa. However, with these solutions come several bottlenecks which eventually create a barrier to the survival and sustainability of the business.

There are several factors that contribute to the failure of start-ups in Africa and the ability to learn from these failures would support a new way of thinking to help mitigate these risks.

In this publication, I would be sharing risk factors from working with not less than 100 companies in the technological, FMCG, retail, agro, fashion, events, confectionary and manufacturing in providing consultancy services and some of the patterns I found led to the business failure.

  1. Huge Injection of Capital Without Traction

Generating and implementing an idea has to go through several stages of design thinking to ascertain the viability of such a product before it is released into the marketplace based on the feedback from prospective end users.

Due to the fact that some early-stage entrepreneurs have already built a name in the ecosystem can easily make them access funding even when an idea is still just an idea that has not been properly researched but because entrepreneurs sometimes are also very emotionally attached to an idea sometimes, they can make several assumptions without considering the facts and then begin to seek capital inflow to kick-start this idea.

Traction is important because it signifies growth and growth could be seen in the form of demand which eventually leads to cash flow. Investing in an idea is too risky and even riskier for an early-stage entrepreneur with limited experience and exposure.

In order to ensure an idea would scale, it is important to employ design thinking to limit assumptions.

  1. Not Working With the Right Team

Not Working with the right team has huge consequences in itself. A start-up should have one core, and it is in the ability to execute with the team. Because most start-ups bootstrap at their early stage, they tend to work with whoever is available and not necessarily the skilled and competent professionals who would hit the ground running and deliver the required expectations.

I remember working in a pharmaceutical start-up where mislabeling of medications occurred because the professional involved was not aware of the procedures as a pharmacist would. This could have been a huge mistake if it was unnoticed until it reached the retailer who did checks and found out.

The right time would limit the time a task is expected to be done. Start-ups should never play down on experience, proficiency and competence. In fact, it is necessary to develop specific in-house procedures for hiring that suits the company’s culture.

  1. Lack of Product-Market Fit

A product could be a fantastic one, but if the market is not ready, then its sustainability is questionable. A very innovative start-up that came with the idea of solving the challenges of travel is GoMyWay, this Start-up was launched in Nigeria but did not thrive.

Was the product fit for the market in terms of providing the needed solution to the already existing challenges, I would say yes, however, factors such as kidnapping, assault, killings have created trust in the mind of travellers and so this travelling application that was supposed to connect a traveller with a car with another traveller going in the same direction could not survive because the safety of travellers was in question.

  1. Government Regulations

Several administrations of government have worked tirelessly to make the business environment conducive, however, there are still gaps to ensure that the start-ups do not get gagged as their benefits are very key to economic development.

The recent move to create a start-up bill to ensure that the interest of start-ups can be protected is one to secure sustainability and increase interactions with regulators in such a way that regulations understand the peculiarities of these businesses and work around policies that would not see capital investments go down the ground with just a regulation.

I believe the start-up bill would create stakeholders in the overall value-chain and then ease how business is done.

There are other factors that contribute to business failure and the listed are some common ones that affect businesses based in Africa.

I however believe that as there is an ongoing conversation to create a roundtable for stakeholder’s interaction, there would soon exist synergy in the ecosystem.

Technology

WhatsApp Rolls Out Self-Messaging Feature

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WhatsApp Self Messaging Feature

By Adedapo Adesanya

Popular instant messaging service, WhatsApp, has started rolling out a feature that allows users to chat with themselves or save messages. Sending messages to one’s own account can be a way to keep a piece of information easily accessible, right next to other WhatsApp conversations.

Called Message Yourself, the feature lets users send notes, reminders and shopping lists to themselves on WhatsApp.

On Monday, the Meta-owned instant messaging app announced the rollout of the new self-messaging feature that will reach all its Android and iPhone users in the coming weeks.

Users will see their contact at the top of the contacts list on WhatsApp when they create a new chat. Tapping that contact will take them to the chat screen they can use to send messages to themselves.

Although the native feature to message oneself is new on WhatsApp, some users have already been using a workaround for some time. Users can already send messages to themselves using the app’s click to chat feature. Nonetheless, the new offering removes the additional steps that users need to self-chat using the wa.me URL.

Users can also pin their self-chat messages to the top of the conversation list if they don’t want to search for them in their widely polluted chats list.

Rival platform, Signal, already offers a feature called Note to Self that does much the same thing, though it is contained in the user’s contacts list rather than being available at the top.

Telegram also offers a similar feature called Saved Messages that lets users bookmark any important messages as well as save their notes and reminders that can be accessed in the future. Messages, once saved, can be accessed from the top of the chats screen. However, Telegram users initially need to access the feature by tapping the hamburger menu on Android or through the settings menu on iOS.

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MSMEs, Schools, Others to Benefit From N16.7bn Broadband Access Projects

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Broadband access projects

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Broadband access projects worth N16.7 billion aimed to accelerate the Nigeria digital economy efforts of the federal government are expected to be enjoyed by several organisations in the country.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, speaking at an event in Abuja recently, stated that those to benefit from the projects include Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), 18 universities, and six polytechnics from each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.

The Minister was at the unveiling of the projects being driven by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at Transcorp Hilton.

He said the projects underscore the importance of broadband connectivity and access as central to the accomplishment of the targets of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria.

Mr Pantami, who was joined by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Mohammed Bello, disclosed that the key infrastructure being provided for the projects comprises broadband infrastructure for tertiary institutions, broadband infrastructure for MSMEs, distribution of 6,000 e-pad tablets, in addition to the provision of broadband connectivity to 20 markets as a pilot.

He said the interest in supporting the MSMEs is justified by their current contribution of more than half of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and now constitute 96.7 per cent of entire businesses in the country, and therefore, “any effort to develop our economy without bringing the such important sector into the equation will amount to efforts in futility.”

In their remarks, the Chairman of the NCC board, Mr Adeolu Akande, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Mr Umar Danbatta, agreed that the projects would fast-track and enhance the ongoing efforts of the agency to deepen connectivity towards achieving the targeted broadband penetration of 70 per cent by 2025.

Mr Akande assured of the commitment of the commission in completing the projects, which will add the necessary fillip to achieving the major objectives spelt out in the NDEPS, 2020-2030, while Mr Danbatta said the organisation was determined to improve broadband penetration in the country.

He said the commission would promote digital skills acquisition to improve service delivery in education, commerce, healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, and governance, among others.

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ISSAN to Teach Practical Steps to Check Cyber-Attacks

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practical steps to check cyber-attacks

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

On Tuesday, November 29, 2022, individuals and businesses will receive practical steps to check cyber-attacks at the annual cyber security conference of the Information Security Society of Africa, Nigeria (ISSAN) themed Cyber Security Imperatives for Business – Practical Considerations.

The hybrid programme, which starts at 9 am, is open to public and private sectors, including large corporates, small and medium-scale enterprises, educational institutions, government agencies and all stakeholders that are impacted by the cyber-ecosystem in any way.

According to the president of ISSAN, Dr David Isiavwe, the conference, which members of the public can be part of via Zoom, will be devoted to further exposing the new threats and trends in the cyber security space and also offer practical steps on what businesses and individuals need to know and do to check the rising tide of the activities of cyber-criminals.

He observed that cyber attackers are getting more sophisticated globally, which is an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that greater awareness must be created to minimize attacks on businesses that may result in losses by various organisations.

“There is an urgent need to evolve a strengthened cyber-security system in Nigeria because of the growing digitalisation of the country’s economic and social interactions as people now work from home and anyone with a smartphone could hop into cyberspace from anywhere and attack nation-states, organisations, and individuals. This means that the threat landscape has just expanded significantly across the borders of any organization or country.

“The first thing that ISSAN is doing is advocacy. We are engaging all key stakeholders to ensure that there is adequate and constant collaboration. Everybody must work together because the entire cyberspace is as secure as its weakest link,” Mr Isiavwe said.

Further, the ISSAN leader, who is also a General Manager at Ecobank, disclosed that highly experienced subject matter specialists had been assembled to provide further insights on how the ecosystem can be better protected, noting that large sums of money are usually at risk in every successful attack.

The keynote address will be delivered by the Director of Payment Systems Management at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Musa Itopa Jimoh and the Director of IT at the apex bank, Mrs Rakiya Mohammed.

The speakers include Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Digital Jewels Limited, Mrs Adedoyin Odunfa; Founder & CEO, Mint FT Innovative, Mr Similolu Akinnusi; Chief Information Security Officer, First Bank of Nigeria, Mr Harrison Nnaji and MD, Cybertech NX, Dr Austine Ohwobete.

Others are Managing Partner, Technology Advisors LLP, Basil Udotai, Esq; Group Head, Customer Fulfilment Centre, UBA, Mr Prince Ayewoh; Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Financial Services Limited, Mr Stanley Jacob; Sales Director (Africa), OneSpan Europe, Mr Nicholas Poire and Field CTO, OneSpan Europe, Mr Dan Mcloughin.

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