Tech Top 5 News
Subscriptions for internet across mobile, fixed, and VoIP networks in the country increased to 148 million in April this year.
Statistics obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reveals that telecom operators recorded 2.5 million new subscriptions in the month.
Despite losing 13.8 million internet subscriptions between January to May last year due to the government’s suspension of SIM registration and activation between December 2020 and April 2021, the telecom operators in the industry have risen above the challenge to gain a remarkable ground, with mobile network operators taking the lead.
Records of December 2020 showed that subscriptions across all the networks in the country stood at 154.3 million. NCC’s data shows that mobile network operators MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile maintained the market lead with 147.4 million subscriptions. VoIP operators Smile Communications and Ntel have 349,742 internet subscriptions, while 14,412 were on fixed wired networks – 21st Century and iPNX.
Broadband subscriptions (high-speed internet service) rose to 81.6 million in April from 80.6 million recorded in March, bringing the country’s broadband penetration to 42.79 per cent.
The largest operator by subscriber number, MTN Nigeria, maintained its leadership position as it gained 1.1 million new internet subscriptions in April, with its internet subscription database hitting 61.8 million.
In April, Airtel recorded an additional 918,191 internet subscriptions, which brought its total internet customers to 40.2 million.
Globacom also gained new subscriptions in the month as it added 331,360 internet customers in the month. At the end of April, its internet subscriptions database stood at 39.8 million.
Google to Merge Meet, Duo into a Single Platform
Google is set to merge two of its audio and video-calling platforms- Google Duo and Google Meet, into a single platform.
The technology company says it is integrating both features to create a more unified communications service.
The platforms will be merged in a two-step process where Google Duo will get all the features of Google Meets first.
Google Duo will be renamed Google Meets later this year.
Meet has become a more powerful platform for official meetings, group calls, and chats for organisations in the last couple of years. On the other hand, Duo has been more of a messaging app.
Google has further claimed to add all the features of Duo to Meet, which will certainly offer the best of both worlds.
In a statement, the head of Google Workspace, Javier Soltero, said it was important to understand how people make choices regarding what tool they’re going to use, for what purpose, and in what circumstance.
“Our digital lives are filled with a million different chat apps, each with its own rules, norms and contact list, some for work purposes and some for personal ones. Google’s hoping it can use Gmail addresses and phone numbers to bring all that together,”Soltero said.
He added, “It is important and powerful to be able to reach you that way and allow you decide whether you want to be reached or not, as opposed to having to manage all these different identities and deal with the consequences.”
LASG: inDriver, Rida Platforms Not Licensed to Operate
The Lagos government has alerted residents about using unlicensed e-hailing ride services in the state.
A statement by the government listed inDriver and Rida as operating without a licence.
According to a report by Rest of World (RoW), the government told residents of Nigeria’s largest city to “be wary of unlicensed e-hailing cab operators within the State as they pose security threats to the safety of lives and property.”
InDriver allows customers and drivers to negotiate prices.
A director at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Olayinka Olawole, explained that the ban was prompted by safety concerns following reports of thefts and kidnappings by drivers and passengers on ride-hailing platforms, including those that have licenses to operate in Lagos.
In recent years, Nigerian authorities have increased their scrutiny of international technology companies operating in the country, demanding that they set up operations locally.
“There are only eight licenced e-hailing cab operators in Lagos. Lagos Ride, Uber, Bolt, Let Me Run, Global Taxi, Zoom Run, Treepz, and Shuttlers are the only lawful operators recognised by the State Government and licensed to operate in Lagos,” the statement said.
inDriver operates remotely from its Cape Town office, which moderates the activities in Nigeria.
On the other hand, Rida operates in Abuja and runs the negotiation pricing model, which allows passengers and drivers to agree on a price.
Tech Start-ups to Benefit From $100m VC Funding
Constant Ventures has announced that it is raising a $100 million venture capital fund to invest across a range of technology start-ups in West Africa.
However, the $100 million investment is aimed specifically at fintech platforms and marketplace start-ups with a focus on financial inclusion, education, and healthcare.
The purpose of the capital is to provide instruments for wealth generation and build a financially educated area for businesses and entrepreneurs. It also aims to support African entrepreneurs and achieve gender parity in business funding.
These start-ups must be active in goods, infrastructures, and services that provide underserved individuals with access to loans, savings, investments, and platforms or markets for trading information, products, or services.
In addition, the funds available to each eligible start-up are between $50,000 to $15 million, with each company receiving a maximum of 15 per cent of the fund.
The Investee companies will be based in Nigeria and Ghana to expand funding to the rest of West Africa.
Chairman and co-founder of Constant Group, Ike Echeruo, stated, “We are now on the cusp of a paradigm shift with recent advances across information technology presenting a unique investment window. We have looked at what has worked in other geographies. Now, refined and optimsed for Africa, we have modelled a fund to invest in businesses that will both improve the lives of millions of people and deliver outstanding returns for investors.”
WhatsApp to Rolling Out Chat Filtering Feature
WhatsApp is reportedly testing a new feature to let users rapidly view all unread messages.
This feature is for regular users after successfully launching it for business accounts last year.
According to a report on WABetainfo, the new chat filter will let users quickly glance at all their unread messages. The unread chat filter is currently available to a set of beta testers.
Users will be able to view all their unopened chats in one sitting.
The messaging platform has been working on making several filters on its platform, including the ability to filter groups and non-contacts. Users can tap on the option shown in the screenshot to see unread messages, disable it, or tap clear filter if they do not want to use it. The new filter has been rolled out to the beta version of the Desktop application.
The unopened chats filter is now only available to WhatsApp Desktop beta testers. Standard users will be able to access it on the web version and the instant messaging platform for iOS and Android in the future.
The feature is now being rolled out slowly to standard accounts in the next update.
Tech Personality of The Week
This week’s tech personality is the Founder and CEO of 54gene, Abasi Ene-Obong.
54gene is a health technology company advancing the state of healthcare through large scale discovery and translational research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs for the benefit of Africans and the global population.
Prior to 54gene, Abasi worked with leading healthcare organisations, including Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, academic and research institutions.
54gene, which raised $15 million through a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed venture fund, is hoping to “spur a biotech revolution” on the continent, collecting and analysing the data that can advance discovery and relevant drug development as well as building the talent and infrastructure needed to power a homegrown industry.
Last year, they raised $25 million to expand precision medicine capabilities. Abasi also made the Fortune 40 under 40 list in 2021.