Meta Launches Metaverse Experience in Africa

Tech Top 5 News BY Nosa Alekhuogie

Meta Platforms Incorporated, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has launched its first Metaverse experience in Africa at a mixed-reality concert in Lagos, Nigeria.
The event, tagged #FlexNaija, introduced creators to a bold new world of possibilities in the Metaverse with three major entry points aimed at increasing the dynamism and versatility of the internet user experience.

The three entry points, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Avatars, and Augmented Reality, would open up creators to the future of social media by exposing them to expanding and monetising their content and leveraging on modern technology to increase engagement with their communities in the future.
 Speaking with journalists at the event, the Communication Manager for Anglophone West Africa, Ms Oluwasola Obagbemi, noted that the decision to launch Africa’s Metaverse journey in Nigeria is strategic as Nigerian creators play a leading role in content creation in Africa and the world.
Obagbemi added that Meta birthed the campaign incubated earlier in the year to collaborate with creators to amplify the user experience of creators and their communities.

“This campaign started with an incubation where our team sat with top content creators in Nigeria across different fields to co-create. Metaverse is not something that would be built by Meta alone,” stated Obagbemi. “So, we are saying that creators should be the first in Nigeria to build and co-create.”
She added, “With NFTs, people can sell their digital collectibles, with Avatars people can have their own profile online, and then there is the augmented reality which some people call spark AR, with which people can connect with virtual reality.”

HP to Lay off 6,000 Workers
HP Inc. announced that it would lay off thousands of workers over the next three years, becoming the latest tech company to downsize staffing amid a souring economic climate significantly.
The computer maker disclosed the major job cuts in a statement accompanying its lacklustre quarterly earnings report recently. It also said sales dropped more than 11 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“The company expects to reduce gross global headcount by approximately 4,000-6,000 employees,” HP said. These actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2025.”

HP had previously reported having a global headcount of some 51,000 employees.
HP President and CEO Enrique Lores stated that the company’s  “Future Ready strategy” will “enable us to better serve our customers and drive long-term value creation by reducing our costs and reinvesting in key growth initiatives to position our business for the future.”
The news makes HP the latest in a growing list of once-high-flying tech companies announcing significant job cuts.

Nigerian Fintechs Cleared in Kenya
Kenya’s Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has withdrawn its allegation of money laundering against Korapay, a Nigerian fintech startup. The withdrawal was filed at the High Court of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division on October 19 by Stephen Githinji, the state counsel, on behalf of ARA.
This was decided after the Kenyan authorities checked and validated the company’s records and transfer processes.
Part of the document filed by ARA stated, “Please note that investigations are now finalised. I would like to confirm that allegations of money laundering and card fraud against (Kora) were not established. Please treat this communication as final.”

Concerning the allegation, Kora’s Chief Operations Officer, Gideon Orovwiroro, said the company consistently maintained its innocence during the trial period.
“We are glad that the ARA and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) have finally dropped all charges and ratified Kora. We would also like to commend both agencies for their professionalism and thoroughness in seeing this investigation to the conclusive end,” Orovwiroro said.
“Kora acknowledges the potential Kenya presents as we pursue our mission to make it easy for global businesses to accept payments in Africa and for African businesses to accept international payments.”
In July, the Kenyan court froze the accounts of Nigerian fintech companies Kora and Kandon Technologies Limited for allegedly siphoning $51 million into the country.

The court froze $249,990 (Sh29.5 million) belonging to Kora’s account with Equity Bank, while Kandon Technologies Ltd had its $126,841 (Sh15 million) in two accounts at UBA bank frozen.
According to the ruling, both companies were barred from withdrawing or transferring money in the stated accounts for six months so that ARA could complete investigations into the allegations.

Jumia Undergoes Restructuring
E-commerce group Jumia Technologies AG recently underwent a heavy restructuring following its co-CEOs’ expelling and plunging share price.
Earlier this month, the company removed founders and co-CEOs Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec and appointed a new management board.
Acting CEO Francis Dufay said the company would focus on its crucial e-commerce offerings, discontinue non-performing areas of the business, and reduce its marketing efforts. Jumia will shut down Jumia Prime, a subscription program like prime service, introduced three years ago, allowing customers to receive free deliveries.

Jumia Logistics, the company’s in-house logistics service, will be discontinued in seven countries but remain in critical markets like Nigeria, Morocco, and Ivory Coast. Dufay added that it identified jobs cut to become a “lean organisation to fulfil our mission.”
“Jumia eliminated grocery delivery, increasing the minimum basket size for free deliveries and restricting free deliveries to major cities. Price subsidies and marketing blitzes will also stop. Jumia slashed advertising costs by 31.5 per cent year on year, Q3 results show.”

According to Dufay, senior company executives would also likely relocate to offices on the continent. Low internet penetration, complex logistics, weak infrastructure, and a reticence to shop online continue to hold the sector back on the continent of Africa.
The depreciation of local currencies against the dollar in Jumia’s markets, particularly Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, and Ivory Coast, has also negatively impacted growth margins.
Dufay said the path to profitability required tough decisions.
“It’s fully in our hands to make it happen,” he said.
Since then, the pan-African group’s share price has fallen more than 70 per cent over doubts about the sustainability of its business model.

Female-led Fintech Raises $2m Seed Funding
An all-female-led fintech, Pivo has raised $2 million in seed round funding.
Pivo helps freight carriers get paid faster by providing banking services and digital invoicing tools that track payments.
The startup, which was part of Y Combinator’s S22 batch, counts Precursor Ventures, Vested World, Y Combinator, FoundersX and Mercy Corp Ventures as its investors in this round.
The company, founded by Mrs Nkiru Amadi-Emina and Mrs Ijeoma Akwiwu, provides financial services, credit, payments and expense management to SME vendors within large manufacturing supply chains.
In a statement, the company said it intends to use the financing to upgrade existing products, build new ones, hire talent, and expand outside of Lagos, its first market and other African countries, particularly in East.

Tech Personality of The Week:
Tola Adesanmi

This week’s tech personality is Tola Adesanmi, CEO and cofounder of Spleet.
Spleet is a Nigerian startup focused on meeting the housing needs of the average Nigerian. It helps people list their homes, get verified renters, and get paid. It is also a financial services solution making renting an apartment in Africa easier.
According to Adesanmi, it was birthed from the desire to address some of the issues in the Nigerian housing market which  led them to create a platform that partners with apartment owners to list their properties and provides renters with the option of paying rent monthly, quarterly, or biannually.
Since its inception nearly four years ago, Spleet has managed over $3.5 million in rent, onboarded over 35 individual and corporate landlords and housed more than 1,000 tenants.
Spleet raised a $625,000 pre-seed funding round in March and has swiftly followed that up with a $2.6 million seed round.

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