This post is a delayed version of Techpoint Digest, a week-daily newsletter that rounds up major happenings in African tech. You can start receiving it hours before everyone else if you .
Today, I’m discussing:
- Possible negotiations over Twitter ban in Nigeria
- Apollo Agriculture’s $1m raise
- Nithio FI $4.5m funding round
Possible negotiations over Twitter ban
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has set up a team to dialogue with Twitter following the federal government’s ban of the social networking site. This was revealed in a statement by Segun Adeyemi, an aide of the President.
The team, which Lai Mohammed would chair, is made up of the Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
According to the statement, the team was set up following Twitter’s desire to engage in a dialogue with the Presidency over the ban.
On Friday, June 4, the Nigerian government suspended access to Twitter. That move was met with a widespread outcry, with citizens and civil society groups criticising the government for what many saw as an attempt to stifle press freedom. The government later revealed that the social media network had reached out for talks.
You might recall that the Minister of Information had earlier stated that its terms for lifting the ban on Twitter include registration and licensing in Nigeria while it would desist from activities that are harmful to the country’s corporate existence.
Good news? While it is still early days, the results of the negotiations could determine whether Nigerians can access Twitter once more.
Apollo Agriculture’s $1m raise
A year on from raising a $6m Series A round, Apollo Agriculture, a Kenyan agritech startup, has raised $1m in debt funding from the Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund).
Founded in 2016 by Eli Pollak, Benjamin Njenga, and Earl Sauver, the startup has raised over $10 million to provide farmers with a suite of services, including finance, farm inputs, advice, and insurance.
To do this, the startup onboards farmers with help from an agent network that boasts over 1,200 field agents in Kenya. The information provided by the farmers is then run through a machine learning model that determines their creditworthiness. If approved, they are provided with seeds and fertilisers.
With claims that its customer base has tripled over the last year, Pollak revealed that the funding would enable the startup to provide more farmers with credit facilities that would significantly increase their yield and income.
A 2015 research by Dalberg Global Development Advisors revealed that although small-scale farmers needed $450b, these farmers only got $31b. That is part of the problem that Apollo Agriculture is looking to solve.
To get a better idea of what Apollo Agriculture does, read this article about the startup.
Nithio FI receives $4.5m to scale off-grid energy access
Nithio FI, a renewable energy finance platform, has disclosed a $4.5 million funding round led by FSD Africa Investments (FSDAi), the investment arm of FSD Africa, a financial sector development and catalyst programme based in Nairobi and funded by the UK Aid.
With this funding, the company plans to enable smallholder farmers, households, and micro-entrepreneurs to access renewable energy.
Speaking after the announcement, Mark Napier, FSD Africa CEO, said, “Investing in sustainable and efficient sources of power will be essential to building a greener, more inclusive future for African economies. Through this investment, we hope to contribute towards tackling both the continent’s climate challenge and the power gap, which still leaves many behind.”
The African Development Bank (AfDB) reports that over 640 million Africans have no access to energy, putting the electricity access rate at just over 40%, the lowest in the world. Renewable energy startups have sprung up across the continent to solve this problem.
However, unlike other sectors, this is a highly capital-intensive sector, and the AfDB estimates that the continent would need investments ranging between $60b and $90b yearly.
In case you missed it
- #TwitterBan: ECOWAS Court restricts Nigerian government from imposing further sanctions. Read.
- Google plans to support African founders and entrepreneurs with new $6m funding options. Read.
What else I’m reading/watching
- Scandal and Betrayal: The Story of How Twitter Started. Watch.
- In Argentina, cheap government-issued netbooks sparked a musical renaissance. Read.
- Why every platform wants to be a super app. Read.
Have an awesome day!