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Kenyan BNPL startup raises $12 million, broods over African markets

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Kenyan tech-led consumer credit platform, Lipa Later, announced plans to reach different frontiers by widening its horizon to reach new markets in Africa, and be endorsed by a $12 million pre-Series A funding. 

Steered by Cauris Finance, Lateral Frontiers VC – one of the platform’s first investors – and GreenHouse Capital, the equity and debt funding round was also supported by SOSV IV ILLS, Sayani Investments, and Anxian Financial Services. 

“We are excited to be working with our investors as we look to grow and expand to more markets in Africa. In the next 12 months, we are looking to grow and double our presence in the existing markets, even as we open in three to five new markets in Africa,” said Eric Muli, CEO and Co-founder of Lipa Later. 

When asked about the latest series A funding round, partner at Lateral Frontiers VC, Samakab Hashi, said, “this latest round of funding leaves them well placed to expand their product offering and takes Lipa Later one step closer to being the dominant Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) player on the continent.” 

The BNPL startup is planning to expand its influence in the region to reach Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria, all while enlarging its predominant market influence, with an undeviating focus on Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. 

In parallel, the startup has exclusive collaborations with various retailers in these markets. This gives shoppers the opportunity to pay for any products in installments. 

One of these successful partnerships is the collaborative effort with French retail giant Carrefour, which permits consumers to pay for purchases such as “furniture, electronics, and even perishables in monthly installments,” according to TechCrunch. 

In the case of the French retailer, customers pay a monthly interest of approximately 2.3 percent on credit extended to them. Lipa Later is hoping to build more and stronger partnerships with worldwide merchants to fulfill its plan of reaching out to more regions across the continent. 

“Lipa Later in not only changing the consumer credit landscape across Africa, which to date has been largely inaccessible for most, but also catalyzing the future of shopping, e-commerce, and payments. They’ve done this in a genuine product and customer-led way that benefits both merchants and consumers and has proven to be incredibly scalable across multiple markets,” said Ruby Nimkar, partner at Nigerian investment company GreenHouse Capital. 

Due to its trademarked credit scoring and machine learning system, Lip Later will provide its customer base with the option of signing up and getting a credit limit almost instantaneously. 

In addition, the startup also developed BNPL API that incorporates into e-commerce platforms. This facilitates merchants’ efforts by directly selling their products, and by default simplifying the process for customers to remit monthly installments for any bought item. 

Daryn is a technical writer with thorough history and experience in both academic and digital writing fields.

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OneWeb, Hughes to provide satellite broadband connections in India

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Satellite communication companies, OneWeb and Hughes, offered high-speed, low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband connectivity across India.  

The agreement between OneWeb and Hughes Communications India Private Ltd. (HCIPL), a joint venture between Hughes and Bharti Airtel Limited, follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the companies in September 2021.  

“OneWeb’s constellation will cover the length and breadth of India, from Ladakh to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to the Northeast and bring secure solutions to enterprises, governments, telcos, airline companies, and maritime customers,” said Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb.  

Through its parent company EchoStar, Hughes is a well-established and supportive OneWeb shareholder. It is also an ecosystem partner to OneWeb, creating gateway electronics – including those in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu – and the core module that will power every user terminal for the system.  

The main contractor also agrees with the U.S. Air Force Research Lab to integrate and demonstrate managed LEO SATCOM using OneWeb capacity in the Arctic region.  

“This announcement marks a turning point for Digital India. Enterprise and government customers, including telecom service providers, banks, factories, schools, defense organizations, domestic airlines, and offshore vessel operators,” Partho Banerjee, president and managing director, HCIPL, said.  

“They are eagerly anticipating the arrival of new high performing satcom services. We look forward to bringing them high-speed, low-latency services from HCIPL using OneWeb capacity—and catapulting India to the cutting edge of connectivity,” he added.  

Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb, commented: “OneWeb is delighted to partner with Hughes to offer high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband solutions and contribute to the Digital India vision. OneWeb’s constellation will cover the length and breadth of India, from Ladakh to Kanyakumari, from Gujarat to the Northeast, and bring secure solutions to enterprises, governments, telcos, airline companies, and maritime customers. OneWeb will invest in setting up enabling infrastructure such as Gateways and PoPs in India to light up the services.”  

OneWeb’s latest satellite launch on 27 December 2021 brought its total in-orbit satellites to 394, over 60 percent of the planned 648 LEO satellite fleet.  

It plans to begin global service by the end of 2022 as demand continues from telecommunications providers, aviation and maritime markets, ISPs, and governments worldwide for its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services. 

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Yemen’s internet service returns after four-day outage following air strike

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Internet services were largely restored in Yemen on Tuesday, residents said, after a four-day outage https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/yemenis-struggle-without-internet-third-day-after-air-strikes-2022-01-23 following air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition on the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, which damaged telecoms infrastructure.

The Iran-aligned Houthi group’s deputy foreign minister, Hussein al-Ezzi, in a Twitter post praised efforts to repair the damage and restore services.

“To all friends and loved ones: We missed you,” he said.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said at 1000 p.m. GMT Monday that services were starting to be restored.

Seven years of conflict have divided Yemen between an internationally recognised government based in the southern city of Aden, and the Houthi group that largely controls the north.

The coalition had said its strikes on Friday were aimed at Houthi military capabilities in Hodeidah, the main landing point for the country’s undersea web connection.

The outage hindered money transfers by Yemenis outside the country. The war and ensuing economic collapse has pushed millions into poverty and parts of Yemen to the brink of famine.

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Thailand to introduce data center campus by Etix

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A new data center is expected to be rolled out by IT service management company ETIX Everywhere, which has acquired a 67 percent interest in Genesis data center in Bang Chalong, 30 km from Bangkok’s historical center.   

This data center will create a new data center campus, which will be jointly developed with its local partner Interlink Telecom.  

As such, Louis Blanchot, Group CEO ETIX Everywhere, said: “We are very excited to announce our expansion into Asia starting with this acquisition in Bangkok, one of the most dynamic markets in the zone. This first step in Asia is a major milestone in ETIX’s strategy to support our global customers providing them our best-in-class colocation services wherever they need”.  

According to a press release, the Genesis data center – renamed ETIX Bangkok #1 – began working with 2.4 MW of IT power. The future development of the campus will offer significant additional capacity.   

In addition, this data center campus is the first of its kind in the market, offering such a high level of severance with four diverse routes for fiber access and power supply coming from two separate substations.  

On his part, Nuttanai Anuntarumporn, CEO of Interlink Telecom PLC, said: “We are very pleased to have a strong partner like ETIX Everywhere with experience in this industry. We believe that our partnership will support the booming Southeast Asia data center and cloud industry and lead us to common success.”  

Thailand has a large population, and remarkable internet penetration is an important growth market for the public cloud and OTT service providers.  

They need to bring their data as close as possible to the end-users to deliver better service, driving demand for colocation services.  

“Telehouse Bangkok will be the first data center of its kind in Bangkok and will come at a time when we expect the data center market in the country to see robust growth owing to the boom in the digital economy,” said Kenichi Miyashita, managing director, Telehouse Thailand.   

“It aims to provide the best environment for all the Internet-related customers, such as cloud service providers, content providers, telecoms and ISPs, to connect with one another with minimal latency.”  

The company, established in 1988 and owned by Japanese telco KDDI, has operations in 15 cities globally, including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan. 

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