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The Rise Fund Leads $47.5m Series C for Cellulant

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The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by growth equity platform TPG Growth, has announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a stake in Cellulant, a leading digital payments provider that reaches 40 million people across 11 African countries.

 

The Rise Fund is investing alongside Endeavor Catalyst and Satya Capital.

 

The deal is the largest of its kind dedicated solely to Africa’s fintech and payments space, competitively positioning Cellulant in a fast-growing sector where it already enjoys an early mover advantage.

 

“Across Africa, expanding easy-to-use and low cost mobile banking offers immense potential for impact, and Cellulant is at the leading edge of that work,” said Bill McGlashan, CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund.

 

“We’re excited to invest in African entrepreneurs like Ken and Bolaji to help them grow their businesses and expand their impact on society. Cellulant is a perfect partner for The Rise Fund’s first investment in Africa.”

 

Cellulant’s digital payments platform delivers connected, flexible payment options for consumers and businesses, and works with financial institutions, governments and mobile network operators to increase transparency and expand their reach in Africa.

 

Building on a business model that first debuted in Kenya and Nigeria in 2004, the company has since expanded its services across 11 African markets, including: Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, and Liberia.

 

“Cellulant occupies a unique position in the fintech ecosystem in Africa, with the potential to offer increased access, savings, and income to tens of millions of users across the continent,” said Yemi Lalude, Managing Partner for TPG in Africa.

 

“As more and more smartphones come online across Africa, Cellulant makes it easy for customers to increase their incomes.”

 

Cellulant offers the opportunity to create transformational growth for African economies by expanding financial inclusion on a continent where nearly two-thirds of the population do not have a bank account.

 

This includes easy-to-access digital payment solutions, interoperable financial services, and mobile banking solutions that can help the unbanked open accounts, cut fees, and save for the future, as well as helping farmers and small and medium sized business owners expand their reach through improved financial services. More than 94% of Cellulant’s customer base was previously unbanked before they signed up.

 

“Payments in Africa are not a novelty. With two thirds of Africans unable to access a bank account, we believe that building a connected payments infrastructure is the foundation of solving real challenges and accelerating Africa’s growth and development. This investment from TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund will enable us to build a world class payments team that can unlock our next phase of growth. This involves not only entering new geographies across the continent, but also consolidating our presence in existing markets,” said Ken Njoroge, Cellulant co-founder and Group CEO.

 

“With this new capital and as part of our scaling up strategy, we are leveraging on the growing mobile penetration trend in Africa to broaden our reach and extend our payments ecosystem across the continent. We are scaling up our existing payments products in the agriculture sector, digital banking and internet payments; as well as introducing consumer-focused products to complement the enterprise products we already have. This will allow us to increase access to payments for the millions of Africans who are still unbanked, despite the financial inclusion revolution,” added Bolaji Akinboro, Cellulant co-founder and CEO of Cellulant Nigeria.

 

“We’re thrilled to have Endeavor Catalyst joining this round for Cellulant,” said Linda Rottenberg, CEO of Endeavor. “With Cellulant, Ken, Bolaji and team are building a great example of something we hope to see much more of in the years ahead: true ‘scale-ups’ in Africa!”

 

The Rise Fund, Satya Capital and Endeavor Catalyst join Cellulant’s existing shareholders Velocity Capital Private Equity, Progression Capital Africa Limited and TBL Mirror Fund. Representatives from The Rise Fund will also join Cellulant’s Board of Directors, leveraging the firm’s experience, deep sector knowledge, operational resources, and global experience to drive increased value creation for the business and its mission.

 

This investment will also help scale existing Cellulant products, like Agrikore. Agrikore is a mobile blockchain-based platform that has served more than 7 million farmers across the continent, better connecting them to the market and helping them sell their goods to a diverse range of buyers more easily. It also expands access to government subsidy programs to help reduce costs for farmers, increase their yields, and raise incomes

 

Magister Advisors served as transaction advisors to Cellulant, and Orrick and KPMG provided diligence and review to The Rise Fund.

 

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Global IT Spending to Hit $3.8tn in 2019 – Report

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Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2019, an increase of 3.2% from the expected spending of $3.7 trillion in 2018.

This is according to the latest forecast by market analyst firm Gartner, which says enterprise software spending is forecast to experience the highest growth in IT spending with an 8.3% increase in 2019.

“While currency volatility and the potential for trade wars are still playing a part in the outlook for IT spending, it is the shift from ownership to service that is sending ripples through every segment of the forecast,” says John-David Lovelock, research vice-president at Gartner.

“What this signals, for example, is more enterprise use of cloud services; instead of buying their own servers, they are turning to the cloud. As organisations continue their digital transformation efforts, shifting to ‘pay for use’ will continue. This sets enterprises up to deal with the sustained and rapid change that underscores digital business.”

Gartner says software-as-a-service is driving growth in almost all software segments, particularly customer relationship management (CRM), due to increased focus on providing better customer experiences.

It believes cloud software will grow at more than 22% this year compared with 6% growth for all other forms of software.

While core applications such as enterprise resource planning, CRM and supply chain continue to get the lion share of dollars, security and privacy are of particular interest right now, says Gartner.

It points out that 88% of recently surveyed global CIOs have deployed, or plan to deploy cyber security software and other technology in the next 12 months.

In 2018, the market analyst firm says, data centre systems are expected to grow 6%, buoyed by a strong server market that saw spending growth of more than 10% over the last year, and in 2018 will come in at 5.7% growth.

However, by 2019, servers will shift back to a declining market and drop 1% to 3% every year for the next five years, Garner notes, adding that this, in turn, will impact overall data centre systems spending as growth slows to 1.6% in 2019.

The firm points out that IT services will be a key driver for IT spending in 2019 as the market is forecast to reach $1 trillion in 2019, an increase of 4.7% from 2018.

It says an expected global slowdown in economic prosperity, paired with internal pressures to cut spending, is driving organisations to optimise enterprise external spend for business services such as consulting.

In a recent Gartner study, 46% of organisations indicated IT services and supplier consolidation were in their top three most-effective cost-optimisation approaches.

Worldwide spending for devices (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) is forecast to grow 2.4% in 2019, reaching $706 billion, up from $689 billion in 2018.

Gartner says demand for PCs in the corporate sector has been strong, driven by Windows 10 PC hardware upgrades that should continue until 2020. However, the PC market may see some impact from the Intel CPU shortage. While this shortage will have some short-term impacts, Gartner does not expect any lasting impact on overall PC demand.

The current expectation is that the shortage will continue into 2019, but Intel will prioritise the high-end CPU as well as the CPUs for business PCs, says Gartner, adding that in the meantime, AMD will pick up the part of the market where Intel cannot supply CPUs.

“PCs, laptops and tablets have reached a new equilibrium state. These markets currently have stable demand from consumers and enterprises. Vendors have only subtle technology differentiation, which is pushing them to offer PC-as-a-service in order to lock clients into multiyear recurring revenue streams and offer new bundles of service options,” says Lovelock.

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MDXI Achieves Microsoft Gold Data Centre Competency, SAP Recertification

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MDXI, data centre provider, has attained the Gold Data Centre certification from Microsoft, thus strengthening its position as one of the leading Cloud Services providers in Africa demonstrating “best-in-class” capability to meet Microsoft’s customers’ needs.

The Gold Data Centre is the highest partnership level with Microsoft in Data Centre Competencies and is the pinnacle for Cloud Productivity in Microsoft’s Partner Network program.

Attaining Gold Partner status is an important step for MDXI in its drive towards supporting local companies face issues on digital transformation, particularly in relation to their data centre and computing platform strategies.

To obtain the certification, MDXI has demonstrated the highest commitment to the integration of the latest Microsoft products, with proven expertise to help costumers drive innovative solutions on the latest Microsoft platforms.

“The Gold Competency provides MDXI with a competitive advantage that helps us offer our customers the most relevant Microsoft solutions in the market. With this competency, MDXI is accredited as a partner to transform data centres into more flexible, scalable, and cost effective solutions using Microsoft Azure Cloud and hybrid solutions.

This will enable us deliver greater value to our customers with best-in-class staff that have been subject to rigorous exams, proven implementation and satisfaction references auditable,” says Gbenga Adegbiji, General Manager, MDXI.

The new milestone proves MDXI’s commitment to enabling digital transformation for its customers through constant improvement in delivering only the best services with competency levels including Silver Cloud Platform; Silver Data Centre; Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions; and Silver Application Development competencies.

In a similar vein, German business software maker, SAP, has given MDXI a clean bill of health with its recertification as a provider of infrastructure services for its cloud solutions.

This recertification endorses the ability of the company to deliver high-quality cloud and infrastructure operations services for customers running SAP solutions and confirms MDXI can continue to host and manage SAP applications using the company’s enterprise cloud platforms.

As a SAP-certified provider of hosting services, MDXI offers cost-effective yet reliable delivery models for mission-critical applications for customers of SAP.

SAP customers that rely on MainOne’s data centre for hosting services are empowered to focus on the business value of their solutions and benefit from reduced operational expenses that a commercial data centre provides.

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Oracle Academy Steps Up ICT Training in Nigeria

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The Oracle Academy announced a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria (FMoE) to create new computing education pathways for local students.

According to a statement, through the agreement, FMoE plans to integrate Oracle Academy computer science curriculum and resources across 10,000 academic institutions across the country, reaching over 1.5 million students within the region.

Over the next three years, Oracle Academy will also facilitate the training of 4,000 educators at the secondary and higher education levels to teach computer science.

Permanent secretary, FMoE, Arch, Sonny S.T Echono, said, “As we are all aware, ICT has become the driver of competitiveness in the world today. It has redefined efficiency and productivity, and changed the dynamics of the world of work. Oracle Academy is well-known globally for the advancement of computer science education. There is therefore, no doubt that our partnership with Oracle will bring great improvements to the education sector and Nigeria as a whole.”

Adebayo Sanni, Managing Director, Oracle Nigeria, added, “As technological innovation increasingly drives our global economy, computer science skills become even more critical.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria through Oracle Academy, and advancing our collective educational mission to support students and teachers in computer science and drive diversity in technology.”

In its statement, Oracle Academy added that it will facilitate a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ course to prepare teachers and faculty members as instructors for the following courses: Database Foundations; Database Design and Programming with SQL; Programming with PL/SQL; Java Foundations; Java Fundamentals, and Java Programming

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