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US tech companies to benefit from Kenyan data deal, and more…

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US tech giants are likely to increasingly mine and monetise data from Kenya if the proposed trade deal between Nairobi and Washington is successfully concluded, a United Nations agency has suggested.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says the proposed free trade agreement between the two countries includes digital economy as one of the key issues for negotiations.

The objective, analysts at UNCTAD say in a fresh report, is to negotiate for inclusion of “state-of-the-art rules” in the trade deal which will not allow Nairobi to impose restrictions on cross-border data flows.

The US is further pushing for removal of hurdles which require digital firms use or install local computing facilities.

Kenya has a legal framework which requires localisation of personal data to protect revenue under Section 50 of the Data Protection Act, 2019.

Kenya’s telecom firm partners with global tech firms to modernize network

Kenyan telecom operator, Telkom Kenya has inked a partnership deal with Ericsson, and systems integrator NEC XON to add an additional 2,000 sites onto Telkom’s network by 2023.

Telkom said the network expansion will see its network grow to four times its current 4G coverage footprint, reaching the majority of citizens across the East African country.

Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said two of their commitments are to better position infrastructure asset base and services to drive digital transformation within various customer segments thus providing them with more value, as well as bridge the digital divide through the expansion of mobile data networks.

“We are already working on the upgrade and expansion of our network at the Coast. The partnership we have signed today will see Telkom and our partners kick off a new network expansion project, guided by our long-term growth strategy,” Kibati said in a joint statement issued in Nairobi.

The 11.13 billion shillings (100 million U.S. dollars) nationwide rollout is part of Telkom Kenya’s long-term network expansion strategy, announced in August 2020, when it underwent a strategic reorganization to address the digital transformation being witnessed, as well as lay the groundwork toward the company’s long-term goal to become the technology partner of choice in Kenya and the region.

Kenyan-based payroll startup Workpay expands to Nigeria

Workpay, a Nairobi-based YC graduate, is expanding its operations to Nigeria. The cloud-based workforce management startup will now offer Core HR, Payroll, and employee record services to organizations in the country. 

Founded in 2019, Workpay allows SMEs to easily manage and pay their employees from anywhere in Africa. Through a web portal and mobile self-service app, people can track time, process a locally compliant payroll, and pay their employees.

The startup has taken part in a host of accelerators in the last couple of years including YCombinator, Google accelerator, and Pangea accelerator.

So far, the company has over 300 active clients and processes $2.5 million in monthly payroll disbursements to banks and mobile wallets.

Seacom buys Kenyan fibre network from Hirani Telecom

Seacom, the company that built the first subsea fibre telecommunications cable to serve Africa’s east coast, has acquired the metropolitan fibre network of Kenya’s Hirani Telecom.

The network will be incorporated into Seacom’s existing metro network in Nairobi, and will be under its full control, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Hirani Telecom is a triple-play service provider, and the largest last-mile provider in the region. Seacom said the acquisition is part of its strategy in the region to grow its on-network capabilities.

A Big Tech talent war threatens Kenya’s start-ups

Technology giants like Microsoft that have set up operations in Kenya are poaching talent from local startups.

Road haulage provider Lori Systems and others are losing tech workers because they cannot compete with major corporations’ salary offers.

Iranian Water Tech for Kenya

Iran’s Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology hosted a Kenyan tech and commercial delegation on Sunday to discuss collaboration in water and wastewater management technologies.

During the event, officials from the vice presidential office’s Water and Wastewater Department and representatives of local knowledge-based companies and tech firms active in the field provided an overview of Iran’s most recent technological achievements, Isti.ir reported.

The Kenyan delegation comprised technologists, urban planners and heads of water distribution and wastewater treatment organizations.

According to the officials, the meeting provided an opportunity to establish joint projects in water and wastewater treatment systems, set up joint research teams and startups, and exchange experience and know-how through the two countries’ local technology ecosystems and academic centers.

Iranian officials also seized the opportunity to promote Iran’s technology exports.

Opibus closes $7.5 million funding round, largest ever for an African electric mobility

African electric mobility company Opibus announced today that it has closed on a round of equity and grant fundraising totaling $7.5 million. According to the company, this the largest sum of money raised by an electric mobility company in all of Sub-Saharan Africa, eclipsing the previous by $4 million. Opibus now looks to use this investment money to continue to scale its operations in electric motorcycle and bus manufacturing in Africa.

Opibus is a Swedish-Kenyan technology company that develops, designs, and manufactures electric vehicles to help transition the African continent toward more sustainable transportation.

The company was founded in 2017 as a research project at one of Sweden’s top technical universities. Its mission, from the beginning, was to implement electric mobility in emerging markets.

Twiga Foods has raised Ksh. 5.5 Billion in a series C fundraising round for expansion in East & West Africa

Twiga Foods, a Kenyan agricultural tech start-up, has raised Ksh. 5.56 billion (USD 50 milion) from international investors for its planned East and West African expansion.

The latest fundraising was led by private equity firm Creadev, and included Africa-focused firm such as TLcom, IFC ventures, DOB Equity and Goldman Sachs’ spinoff Juven. First time investors OP Finnfund Global and Endeavor Catalyst Fund were also part of the fundraising round.

The funding follows the company’s announcement to expand operations to other countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. This is yet to happen though amid disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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