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Sports / What If Nigeria Won The World Cup? by BigCabal: 6:16pm On Mar 29
In many Nigerian homes, chances are there are at least 2 passionate football fans. There aren’t many things that hold similar levels of reverence and following as football does in Nigeria. Nigerians are quite simply crazy about the sport. And nowhere is this passion as prevalent as in a World Cup year.

The very nature of football competitions such as the World Cup, the Olympics, or AFCON is national coalescence. Not only do they stand out as the most prominent football tournaments in the world, they also rank as the only competitions that can manage to bring a sense of unity in an otherwise mostly-torn, extremely diverse nation. Cheering on the national team, nothing else matters but the common enemy that is the opposition team and the country they represent.

It matters little where you’re watching the match from or what your political, tribal or religious inclinations are. Once that kick-off whistle goes, your passion joins forces with other Nigerians, creating a 100-million strong band of a national frenzy.

While the frenzy surrounding football competitions remains the same, the manner in which Nigerians are experiencing the game is evolving. Technology has become an integral way fans consume sports. In a 2020 Capgemini Research Institute report, nearly 70% of the 10,000 sports fans interviewed say that emerging technologies have enhanced their overall viewing experience, both inside and outside the stadium.

If emerging technologies are undeniably the future of sports—and research forecasts that 80% of organisations expect to compete mainly based on customer experience over the next three years—then Nigerian tech companies are rightly building at the intersection of these factors, tapping into digital technology to strengthen fan engagement.

One of such companies pioneering the sport-tech industry is LVM, with its flagship product lovefootball.ng, a fantasy football platform where soccer fans get to stay updated, socialise and compete for amazing rewards. Fans’ rapid adoption of this and other sporting platforms like LiveScore, SportyBet and Goal.com is a testament to the burgeoning fanbases that exist in and out of the stadium.

With football tournaments like the Olympics, the World Cup or AFCON happening this year, fans’ desire for real-time data and analytics rise as a result of genuine interest in the games they like. Technology can be utilised to deliver more info to fans while watching games. Scoreboards, real-time statistics, data visualisation, and the option to wager in and out of the stadium can be used to elevate the experience to new heights, maintaining and growing fan engagement.

In the sports industry also, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are rapidly being used to offer new experiences for audiences, allowing spectators at home to feel like they are seated in the front row. Interactive activities can also place a fan on the pitch during a game as a virtual participant.

Not only is technology able to improve fans’ experience, it is also used to improve the players’ experience of the game as well as their performances. From the tiniest modifications in action to weight distribution, AI and data science can be employed to assist players in making the progressive gains that allow them to reach the pinnacle of their game.

Technology is also revolutionising the business of sport and the ways sports teams are funded and managed. Sporting Lagos, the brainchild of Paystack co-founder, Shola Akinlade, is one of the local football clubs introducing a 360-experience in football management. Godwin Enarkhena, the team’s technical director says Sporting Lagos is a football club that will introduce innovations to the matchday experience.

“This is a new baby that is here to change the narrative. We have software engineer, Akinlade, as our motivator, with a tested businessman, Uzo Okonkwo as our general manager. Sporting Lagos FC was conceived because we want to employ our knowledge to create a 360-degree experience in football management. We want to create a family-oriented club, which will offer more than just football to fans,” Enarkhena told The Guardian.

Sporting Lagos’ unique mode of recruiting founding members via Twitter and crowdfunding operations brings another dimension to the possibilities sports businesses can tap into by leveraging technology to engage fans and involve them a little more in the experience of the club. Founding members in this case enjoy perks such as match tickets, team jerseys and the opportunity to have a say in club decisions.

The implications of technology in sport are not limited to a holistic experience for sports fans and players, but also extend to the entire value chain of football, and sports at large. Forty-nine percent of the people interviewed for a Capgemini report said they have often increased their spending on team/brand merchandise following a good experience, and 42% have increased this spending a few times. International tech businesses like Fanatics, Socios, and Sorare have gathered a lot of interest and raised a lot of money to address the gaps in fan engagement by allowing fans to digitally purchase merchandise, own fan tokens that give them voting rights on club decisions and trade digital tokens representing their favourite players and teams.

Hypothetically, let us imagine Nigeria were to book a place in the World Cup finals later this year, and perhaps goes on to win the tournament. The celebrations would be something to behold. The ripple effect of such would be felt in all aspects of the economy. Alcohol and beverage companies like Guinness, Nigerian Breweries and ABinbev will see a surge in sales as drinks are consumed in merriment. Mobile network providers also make a killing as more and more fans purchase internet bundles to keep up with the games.

Fabric and clothing companies would also capitalise on this, stamping Nigeria-themed colours across all clothing types. There would be lace and Ankara materials cut out of similar visual designs to the national team’s jerseys, and these materials would be massive hits with buyers. Manufacturers of sports jerseys use reactive supply chain strategies. In such situations, when a team moves to the next round of competition, more jerseys are needed. However, demand is expected to surge with the influence of technology, as vendors gain visibility on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok that leverage visuals for advertising and sales of sports merchandise.

Speaking of social media, another tech-enabled sports value chain is new media. In the sports sector, social media has become a driving factor controlling the narrative. Teams and players give serious attention to expanding their internet presence by creating and marketing team-specific content to remain in touch with supporters before, during, and after games in competitions like the World Cup and English Premier League. Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all excellent sites for streaming video highlights of your team’s games, either before or after an event. In fact, among younger audiences below the age of 25 years, it has been gathered that they prefer to watch highlights and clips online via social media than to watch the entire game on television or at the stadium.

Since the beginning of 2017, social media posts by the top-5 US sports leagues have generated 16.7 billion interactions, according to MVPIndex. Making captivating recordings from field level viewpoints, which are unavailable to television viewers, may increase engagement by making supporters at home be equally immersed in the game. As of 2018, 30% of fans watched live on their phones or tablets, so it is a no-brainer to target this audience.

Organisations looking to adopt and maximise modern technology in sports should concentrate on 4 areas:

To develop trust, be open with fans about how their personal data is used.

Before introducing new products, determine the needs and expectations of fans and users.

Convert passive followers into enthusiastic supporters as fans that follow a sport on a regular basis, watch virtually all of the sport’s matches, and attend games often present a major potential.

By investing in digital culture and skills, as well as creating a bridge for information across sports organisations to generate more innovation, you may create digital strategies, competencies, and improve corporate culture.

Fans of sports are fervent and curious. They want to have everything there is to know about their beloved team at the tip of their fingers, and handing them a programme with all of the players’ jersey numbers no longer cuts it. As a result, it’s logical for sports teams and other organisations in the business of sports to engage with supporters using platforms that they have become familiar with. So that, as the way in which modern fans interact with sports evolves, so would the way in which sports organisations interact with these supporters.

Businesses interested in tapping into the excitement of these burgeoning fanbases while leveraging technology should work with a trusted specialist who understands both the sport and the technology needed to improve customer engagement to get the most out of this technological progression. Whether Nigerians are watching the World Cup at home or at the stadium, innovative technological solutions will boost their enjoyment and engagement. There’s definitely something there for businesses to leverage on.

Source
Science/Technology / Nigeria-based Credpal Gets $15m To Expand Its Buy Now Pay Later Business by BigCabal: 5:27pm On Mar 29
Buy now pay later (BNPL)—a short-term consumer financing that allows shoppers to purchase products online and pay in instalments with nominal or no fees—is sweeping the global e-commerce sector. Afterpay, Klarna, Affirm, and Zip are some of the players leading this charge while tech and payments giants Apple, Square, PayPal, and Visa have their respective BNPL initiatives as they look to get a slice of the action.

In Africa, BNPL activity is beginning to take shape and one of the pioneers in this space, CredPal, on Tuesday announced that it’s raised $15 million in a bridge round comprising equity and debt. This will be used to expand its consumer credit offerings in its home country, Nigeria, and scale across Africa.

Launched in 2018 by CEO Fehintolu Olaogun and COO Olorunfemi Jegede, Y Combinator- and Google-backed CredPal allows individuals and businesses to pay for purchases in instalments across online and offline merchants, for both large and small-ticket items—from as low as ₦2,000 up to ₦5 million. CredPal claims to have over 85,000 active customers and more than 4,000 active merchants.

In addition to providing infrastructure that allows banks and other financial institutions to deliver consumer credit in real-time, CredPal offers its customers access to credit cards, which was launched in November 2020.

“What we’ve done is encapsulate the lifestyle of the average working-class Nigerian and ensure that every person can find something specifically for them on CredPal,” Olaogun said in a recent interview. “For instance, a professional who earns ₦250,000 can get a credit card with a limit that they can pay back at the end of their billing cycle or use it to buy now and pay later.”

With the new funding, the startup plans to extend partnerships with merchants through its recently deployed CredPal Pay, an omnichannel merchant suite that allows businesses seamlessly accept buy now, pay later. The point-of-sale infrastructure enables BNPL through various means, including a credit payment link, checkout plugin, QR codes, and a transaction management system.

“Our commitment to better credit facilities for African consumers and helping sellers grow their sales is getting a huge boost with these latest milestones,” Olaogun says in a statement.

The latest funding brings the total investment secured by CredPal to $16.7 million, per Crunchbase data, having previously raised $1.5 million in 2020, part of which was used to roll out its credit cards.

Participating in this bridge round are existing investors, including Greenhouse Capital (which is also an investor in Kenya’s BNPL startup Lipa Later), as well as new backers including Uncovered Fund, LongCommerce, First Circle Capital, and Adii Pienaar, co-founder and former CEO of WooCommerce.

Credit Direct Limited, a subsidiary of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), provided the debt facility along with a few other financial institutions.

The funding announcement coincides with a new partnership with Airtel Nigeria to enable consumers across Nigeria to access BNPL to own smartphones and broadband modems, CredPal says, without sharing specific details about the deal.

The fresh investment will also support the startup’s planned expansion across Africa, starting with Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, and Cameroon, the company said.

With the bulk of African consumers severely starved of efficient and sustainable credit solutions, the BNPL movement is waxing strong across the continent and so is the competition among players.

Lipa Later is one of the early companies in the space in Kenya and there is M-Kopa—which has since expanded into phones and retail products—in Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria. CDCare, PayQart, and Carbon also play in Nigeria. And in South Africa, there are PayJustNow and Payflex. The latter was recently acquired by Australian BNPL Zip.

While competition appears to be heating up, there is a significantly large market of consumers and merchants to be tapped. But success will largely be determined by how effectively players can drive the adoption and use of credit financing and cards by African consumers.

Source

Read more African fintech stories here

Business / What Does Elizabeth Tweedale Know About Team Motivation In The COVID-19 Era? by BigCabal: 7:54pm On Mar 28
It’s no longer news that COVID-19 has reshaped the way we work. In many ways, experts have projected that this state of affairs will continue long after the pandemic is gone. Both local and international companies are either going fully remote or hybrid in their mode of work. Automation is now king, and the line between work and personal life is now blurred. But how can managers and founders motivate their teams for great performance in this blurry era?

To answer this question, Daniel Adeyemi, Senior Reporter at TechCabal, spoke with Elizabeth Tweedale, founder and CEO at Cypher Coders, one of the leading coding schools for kids in the UK, on the 6th episode of Building From Ground Up, Season 2, by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub.

Tweedale is a computer scientist and architect and has worked as a computational design specialist at several top UK architecture firms where she, among many great projects, worked on the beautiful Apple campus. Prior to founding Cypher Coders, she co-founded an AI startup GoSpace in 2014 and currently serves as its Chief Innovation Officer.

In 2016, as a mother of 3 and an advocate of teaching people, especially kids, how to build software solutions, she founded the coding school that would quickly become the UK’s leading coding school for kids. As an edtech startup, Cypher Coders thrived on a brick-and-mortar work culture, where employees show up at their London central office. But when the pandemic hit, the startup was forced to operate remotely. And now that the world is gradually opening back up, it’s maintaining a hybrid approach to work. But how did Tweedale keep the team’s spirit going?

Find the best people and hire them
For Tweedale, finding qualified people that are self-motivated in their own right is the beginning of building a great team that can function well without your supervision. You can’t motivate people who are naturally numb to motivation; watch out for how they align with the vision of your business from the recruitment stage. Do they buy into it or not?

Find the best people for the job and hire them. This thinking directs how Tweedale recruits.

“Our COO used to work in an accelerator as a business coach where she taught over 300 entrepreneurs, of which I was one of them. She was so good that I had to steal her for Cypher,” Tweedale said.

Ask your team what motivates them
Human beings are complex and intelligent, and can be surprisingly clueless at the same time. So, it takes time and patience to fully have a grasp of someone’s personality, but because there is not always liberty of time in a startup, founders or managers must learn to ask their employees or team members what motivates them.

“I ask my team what motivates them. And I can see how effective that one-on-one conversation has helped to boost performance across metrics,” she said.

What motivates people are different and as a manager or founder, it helps to find how your team members are different because that will help you be flexible in the way you manage them without losing your managerial standard and that of the business.

Clear communication
Lack of proper communication is capable of not just leaving employees unmotivated—because they don’t understand what’s to be done anyways. Tweedale said that every necessary communication must be explicitly executed.

“We communicate the value of the business to the new employees and reiterate it to the existing one in clear words. We can’t afford for people to start doing guesswork.”

Tweedale mentioned that companies must clearly state their growth trajectories with new hires—tell their stories from where they are coming from, where they are, and where they are going, and what each employee or team must contribute.

Allow them time off
According to Twedeele, the pandemic has already blurred how we work and employees are struggling with work-life balance. And the best way a company can help them find it is to create room for breaks.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is one of the oldest sayings that legitimises the importance of taking a break to relax or unwind. Tweedale said her company takes employees on retreats and offsite team bonding, where all employees come together in one city to have fun.

Going on retreats has worked for Tweedale and her team. The team catching up and bonding on something other work is one benefit, the founder or manager using the opportunity to sneak in a motivational speech is another. She advises leaders to find what works for their team.

Source

Politics / Everything We Know About Terrorist Attack On Kaduna Airport by BigCabal: 7:30pm On Mar 28
Kaduna State is currently one of the hotbeds of violence and bloodshed in Nigeria. Government records show that terrorists killed 1,192 people in dozens of attacks in 2021. They also kidnapped 3,348 people for ransom. The government finally declared bandits as terrorists in January 2022, but they’re still called “bandits” by a large section of the Nigerian media.

Days ago, Kaduna State made news headlines again following a new attack.

What happened?
On March 26th 2022, a group of terrorists attacked a runway of the Kaduna International Airport. Eyewitnesses reported there were as many as 200 terrorists on motorbikes but this was not confirmed by authorities.

The attack prevented a scheduled Azman Air flight from taking off as a security precaution.

How did the attack end?
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said in a statement that a combined team of security operatives confronted the terrorists and restored order. The team recovered two motorbikes abandoned by the terrorists.

The terrorists killed one person. The deceased was a security watchman for the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

There’s a fake video of the attack online
Since the attack, a video has been circulating online claiming to show the terrorists riding dozens of motorcycles on a runway. The video has been fact-checked and discovered to be false. That clip was shot in Sokoto and had nothing to do with any attack.

It’s not the first attack on the airport

The Kaduna International Airport has become a usual target for terrorists as insecurity escalates in Kaduna State.

On March 6th 2021, terrorists gained access to FAAN staff quarters on the airport premises and kidnapped 10 people. Nigerian military troops rescued the victims two weeks later. The government didn’t clarify if any terrorists responsible for the abduction were arrested or killed during the rescue operation.

There was another attack on the staff quarters on March 14th 2021 that was thwarted by security operatives, and yet another one around the same airport on March 19th 2021 that was also foiled by security operatives.

What’s the government saying about the latest attack?
The governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, has condemned the attack and praised the security forces for their prompt response. He also sent condolences to the family of the victim.

There’s been no word from the President Buhari-led Federal Government.

Source

Literature / The Hottest Sex Scenes In Modern African Literature by BigCabal: 12:20pm On Mar 26
African writers are awesome in many things: they write the most thoughtful prose; they’re also great at building remarkable worlds and making us fall in love with their characters, etc.

But there’s one area where they fail so badly at: writing sex scenes in their stories. It’s either they shy away from writing sex scenes or they write them as badly as their Nollywood counterparts.

A couple examples of epic fails: Ben Okri wrote a rocket-sex scene that won him a Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award in his 2014 novel, The Age of Magic; over six decades ago, in 1954, Mongo Beti wrote the longest and most ridiculous sex Scene in an African novel.

But while you’ve probably been exposed to bad sex writing by African writers, there’re actually some pretty hot sex scenes in African stories, rare as they might be. My list includes scenes from short stories, anthologies and full-length novels.

“Indulgence” by Joyce Nawiri, from Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology
He slowly caressed my thighs and his hand journeyed upwards till his fingers found a resting place for their magic. For three years I had been married, but my husband would not recognize my pussy in a lineup. His dick was the only contact he made with my body, and that wasn’t very often.

Father Silas slid two fingers inside of me and, after a few seconds, I began to grind against them and even found myself spreading my thighs further apart for him. My hips found the luxury of balance in his hands. Although I quivered and moaned, he didn’t break rhythm. He knew the exact rubbing pressure to exert against my clitoris; a little fast but not too much to prevent me from climaxing.

“Put me on the bench,” I pleaded, and he did, only not the way I intended. He made me kneel on the bench with my feet hanging off in such a way that my buttocks stuck out to his groin. Holding my skirt up to my waist, I heard his belt unbuckle. I bent lower, yearning for him to quench the thirst he had awakened. As he pinned himself closer, I felt his rooster nudging at my entrance. I exhaled and my body opened to receive him. At first, he was slow but once fully inside, his thrusts were so powerfully vicious that I froze almost immediately at its strength. As I relaxed, he began to plough me, faster and deeper. I could feel every hardened bit of him as he continued to wreck me, surprising me with the flexibility of his waist. Our moans and groans filled the chapel.

With each thrust, I could feel his power. Sweat dripped off us. My vagina flooded. This man was working me the way a blacksmith handled hot iron. Suddenly he whispered, “Our acts scream hell.”

“But what we are making here is heaven.”

The tabooest sex in the history of taboos. Phew!

When We Speak of Nothing by Olumide Popoola
The hands went everywhere. The lips, the mouth. Their clothes piled around them. Their naked skin touched the cement. It helped. It helped cool the heat that rose from the skin. It was strange to have his body all exposed. To show everything. Stranger even to have hers like that, close up. She was so soft it tickled him each time her skin touched his body. Especially when her hands travelled down his arms or up his legs, worst at the back, up the spine. The hairs stood, but it felt good.

Her hand took his and guided it until he was inside her. Moved it, so that he could feel what felt best to her.

Janoma opened, leaning her back against the wall of the shack and reached with her hand between Karl’s legs. Karl knelt, his hand deeper, his face between her thighs now until her stickiness spread past his lips, all over his chin, and she moaned, trying to hide the sounds from the outside world. The heat seemed trapped inside their bodies, spreading and trying to push out. Pushed and pushed until her legs clamped his face and she moved her head. Opened her eyes to look at him. He was panting. When he leaned back her hand slid out between his legs.

After Karl visits Nigeria and falls in love with Janoma, the two young lovers have a hideaway to have sex for the first time, after their previous attempt was interrupted. The scene works so well because it’s not trying too hard or taking itself too seriously. It’s honest and short and awkward, but it’s satisfying.

The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
He found himself rolling towards her, giving her nipples gentle lover’s bites, letting his tongue glide down the hollow in the center of her breasts and then back again. He caressed her thigh with his good hand, moving to her small night lappa and fingering her coral waist-beads. Ona gasped and opened her eyes. She wanted to scream. But Agbadi was faster, more experienced. He slid on his belly, like a big black snake, and covered her mouth with his. He di not let her mouth free for a long time. She struggled fiercely like a trapped animal, but Agbadi was becoming himself again. He was still weak, but not weak enough to ignore his desire. He worked on her, breaking down all her resistance. He stroked and explored with his perfect hand, banking heavily on the fact that Ona was a woman, a mature woman, who had had him many a time. And he was right. Her struggling and kicking lessened. She stared to moan and groan instead, like a woman in labor. He kept on, and would not let go, so masterfully was he in this art. He knew he had reduced her to longing and craving for him. He knew he had won. He wanted her completely humiliated in her burning desire. And Ona knew. So she tried to counteract her feelings in the only way she guessed would not give her away.

“I know you are too ill to take me,” she murmured.

“No, my Ona, I am waiting for you to be ready.”

She felt like screaming to let free the burning of her body. How could one’s body betray one so! She should have got up and run out, but something was holding her there; she did not know what and she did not care. She wanted to be relieved of the fire inside her. “Please, I am in pain.”

She melted and could say no more. She wept and the sobs she was trying to suppress shook her whole being. He felt it, chuckled, and remarked thickly, “Please, Ona, don’t wake the whole household.”

Either she did not hear, or he wanted her to do just that, for he gave her two painful bites in between her breasts, and she in desperation clawed at him, and was grateful when at last she felt him inside her.

He came deceptively gently, and so unprepared was she for the passionate thrust which followed that she screamed, so piercingly that she was even surprised at her own voice: “Agbadi, you are splitting me in two!’

Suddenly the whole compound seemed to be filled with moving people. A voice, a male voice, which later she recognized to be that of Agbadi’s friend Obi Idayi, shouted from the corner of the courtyard: “Agbadi! Agbadi! Are you alright?”

Again came the law laughter Ona loved and yet loathed so much. “I am fine, my friend. You go to sleep. I am only giving my woman her pleasures.”

Emecheta weaved in sexual tension and even elicited a couple of laughs in such a sad story. And the build-up of anticipation? Oh boy!

“Solutions” by Howard Maximus, from The Vanguard Book of Love Stories
THE FIRST TIME Papa V. asked Lucy to spend the night, she shaved and brought coconut oil for massage. In Vanessa’s bedroom—for he couldn’t take Lucy to his matrimonial bed just yet—, they kissed and fondled each other for several minutes, she telling him how good he looked for a man his age, his body toned and his belly flat enough, and he pecking and necking and smacking and moaning, massaging and then more kissing, but when she was ready to receive him, Papa V. did not rise….

The day it finally happened, Papa V. came to his room to find Lucy dressed in his late wife’s clothes. She wore the same woody perfume his late wife wore. She would later tell him how Vanessa had come up with this when she had gone to their university to visit and that had come up.
“You bring up our sex life with my kids?” he’d ask, and she would tell him how desperate she was to make it work. Now, they were lying close to each other, overwhelmed by the fact that they had finally done it, when Papa started to apologize.

In the coming days, he would try all the things she wanted to try. On one night, she would be the queen and he would be the slave, going down on his knees, following her around the room; on another, she would be a celebrity and he would be a fan, and on another, she would be a naughty doctor and he would be a patient; but always, it ended in disappointing sighs, Papa V. rising a little, and then falling like a limp-stalked plant.

The lovers finally have sex after several attempts. I love that Maximus spotlights an unlikely couple, shows sex can be awkward and people don’t always get it right the first time.

“Lost Stars” from A Broken People’s Playlist by Chiemeka Garricks
When I returned on Thursday, I went to your flat at Stadium Road. Famished, we didn’t make it to your bedroom. We tore at each other’s clothes, but gave up mid-way and merged, half-dressed on your living-room wall. As your face headed down between my legs, as always, we paused for a moment and chuckled, because we remembered – the first time you ate me, my first time ever, I farted uncontrollably through a long orgasm, and you rolled off and laughed till I joined in. Thursday was kisses, bites, sweat, thrusts and screams – a frenzied mauling because there was no tomorrow. Liquid electric, it coursed through every cell, jolted my body alive, but felt good for my spirit like a homecoming. Eventually, we collapsed to the floor beside your door. After, we stumbled to your room where we drank wine, cuddled, and ribbed each other. Then we did it again, slower, bodies rhyming gently, because of scarred souls. Then we napped (different sides of the bed because I disliked being cuddled when I slept), woke, and talked. It was when you touched my head that I realised my wig had fallen off.

Writers often get it wrong with using metaphors for sex. But the unexpectedness of this scene in the story and the awkwardness right after the sex made it feel… authentic.

A Bouquet of Dilemma by Tayo Emmanuel
He is singing into my ears now. It’s Boyz 2 Men’s I’ll make love to you. That’s the only thing he needs to do to keep me going. My breathing becomes heavier as I remove his shirt and my clothes. He goes on kissing me and humming at the same time. My hands and mouth are all over him with sheer hungry passion, caressing, kissing, handling. I feel his erection, yet he is not hurrying me, in fact he is trying to slow me down, but I am past that point of no return. I am afraid if I stop now, I will never get around it with him and I want him so bad. My whole body is taut and tingling and sultry; how do you ever find the right words at this moment? I am on the bed, naked and ready; he manages to extract and wear a condom before lying down next to me. He is still humming, more quietly, when I feel him inside me. Gently at first, then getting bigger and pushing deeper. Must pain and pleasure always go together, I wonder. It’s a sticky burning sensation, it’s consuming, it’s liberating; I’m crying and shouting his name and he is shouting mine too and it seems like I am about to faint, but I don’t. I feel some more stickiness, then silence. “I love you so much, baby.”

“I love you too.”

Is it a little cheesy and matter-of-fact? But it’s urgent and provocative; it gets the people going.

Source

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Fashion / The Hair Struggles Naturalistas Are Facing In This Heat by BigCabal: 11:25pm On Mar 23
The weather is crazy hot right now, and my naturalistas are going through it. If you have natural hair, we’re certain that you can relate to the heat-related hair struggles we mentioned below.

Extremely dry hair
If there’s one thing that can make naturalistas break down and shed premium tears, it’s dry hair. This is because dry hair means loss of hair moisture, which can cause brittleness and hair breakage. This is why our natural girls are the ones cursing this heat the most.

Sweaty scalp
This heat can make people sweat in various places, including the scalp. For naturalistas, this is a nightmare. Apart from going through the stress of washing your hair every two days due to the sweat and dirt that have gathered there, you’re also dealing with dandruff and an itchy scalp. Have women not been through enough already?

Tangling
Leave your hair for two seconds and it will get tangled. Then you find yourself using detanglers and conditioners to fight the battle that is detangling your hair.

Protective styling
You can’t even enjoy your natural hair in its full glory in this weather. Every other week, you’re doing one protective style or the other. And if you’re doing braids as a protective style, you almost want to cry because who wants braids on their head during this heatwave?

Hair shedding
This is not common, but it does happen to quite a number of people with natural hair. You’ll be sitting down, minding your business, and you’ll just notice your hair falling off. Or you’ll randomly play with your hair, and as you remove your hand, a bit of your hair will go with it. Omo!

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Science/Technology / How To Set Up And Fund Your First African Bitcoin Account by BigCabal: 8:40pm On Mar 22
Bitcoin is money, a legitimate currency for transactions.

There, I said it. And by the end of this piece, you won’t fret much about discussing this idea with friends and family.

This is not a campaign; it’s a recognition of reality. Money is whatever medium people agree to use to exchange value. As long as this medium can be used by both parties to account fairly for their exchange – if nobody is playing a fast one on the other – it’s legit.

Bitcoin is part of a family of thousands of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin Cash, Ether and Litecoin. The “crypto” in the term gives off cyberhacking vibes, of some dark-web nefariousness. But the word’s Greek ancestor “kruptos” simply means “hidden.”

Cryptocurrencies are created with computer code, and as such are called digital or virtual currencies. The code is encrypted to prevent counterfeiting and make it transferable across geographies.

How does this work?

Blockchain technology is the subject of a separate piece, but what a user needs to know is that no central authority controls its flow. Every cryptocurrency has a decentralised ledger that records each transaction.

Before setting up your Bitcoin wallet, a caveat. Bitcoin has two problems that make it somewhat less desirable than regular money.

One, it has a finite supply because the currency’s source code imposes a limit on how much Bitcoin can be mined. Secondly, the decentralised nature means it is not under government control, making it a favour currency for malicious actors.

Also, it’s digital only. You can’t squeeze it into an offering box. That’s not a problem, is it?

Crash course over. Now, let’s set up an account and start transacting.

Select a wallet
You know how a wallet is needed for cash? Same applies to cryptocurrencies. So the first thing to do – after understanding how Bitcoin works – is to decide on which wallet to use.

There are a number of options for Africans: BuyCoins, Bitsika, Quidax, Luno, Bundle, YellowCard, LocalBitcoin. And more.

We’ve written a bit about BuyCoins before but the focus was on Sendcash, a product that facilitates Bitcoin-to-naira transfers across borders. BuyCoins has unveiled the feature in Ghana this week as more Africans latch on to the digital currency ride.

There’s no art to selecting any of these apps, so you should go with whichever feels familiar to your senses.

Download and sign up
After downloading Bitsika, you can “Continue with Google” to sign up using your Gmail address. A username is required and four-digit PIN is all it takes to create a wallet. You can do this in two minutes, but additional details are required to verify your identity.

Luno’s first page after downloading the app displays the current Bitcoin price in your local currency, with tabs for other currencies. You get the option of exploring the app before deciding whether or not to sign up for a wallet, which is cool. A Gmail or Facebook account can be used to set up an account.

Quidax says it’s “Beginner friendly” with round-the-clock support available, then requests your phone number. Bundle asks for your phone number on its first page but setup is pretty seamless.

BTC Pay. It’s got some press this week after the Feminist Coalition, a women’s group in Nigeria at the forefront of the #EndSARS movement started using it to receive donations.

Generally, signing up for a basic wallet Bitcoin requires a mix of these: a username, phone number and email address.

Fund wallet
Depending on the app, you can fund a Bitcoin wallet through bank transfer, credit/debit card, or mobile money.

Bitsika offers all three, Bundle has just card and bank transfer (perhaps because it is still new and based in Nigeria where mobile money isn’t such a big deal).

I don’t know if this applies across the board but funding a Bitcoin wallet takes more time than usual bank transfers or wallet funding activities on, say, Piggyvest.

For example, it takes up to 15 minutes for a card transfer on Bundle and up to an hour for a bank transfer. Both transfer modes incur transaction fees: 1.5% and NGN 150 respectively.

On BuyCoins, deposit is by bank transfer and it’s free.

Follow the app’s instruction to add a bank account, and select an amount to transfer to the wallet. The transfer is stored as a local currency or US dollar (if the wallet accepts dollars) token on the wallet.

Buying and selling
With the token in your wallet, you can buy Bitcoin. At the time of writing, the exchange rate stands at 1 BTC for ₦5.3million ( ~ $13,970 at the Central bank of Nigeria rate).

When you’ve got to this point, selling and sending Bitcoin to other people becomes rather straightforward. You’ll be sending the BTC to a wallet address, the equivalent of an account number.

But depending on the app, there may be an extra level of verification required to send cryptocurrency.

BuyCoins requires identity verification and has a guide for sending cryptocurrency on their app.

Bitcoin transactions are facilitated by processors like BTC Pay. It’s got some press this week after the Feminist Coalition, a women’s group in Nigeria at the forefront of the #EndSARS movement started using it to receive donations.

As with any digital product, it’d be wise to familiarize yourself with whichever app you opt for before undertaking transactions.

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Nairaland / General / Nigerians On Life After Leaving Their Toxic Work Place by BigCabal: 7:45pm On Mar 22
If there’s anything recent conversations surrounding work culture in Nigeria has shown us, it’s that navigating and surviving a toxic workplace requires a lot of hard work. But what happens when you finally move on to greener pastures and a work culture that respects you as a human being? In this article, six Nigerians break down how they adjusted to their new work environment, and what they had to unlearn after leaving toxic workspaces that drained them physically and emotionally.

1. “I had never worked in an office where salaries had a set date”

— Uchenna

My former boss was a financial and emotional tyrant. The first red flag I convinced myself was pink was when he asked me to start work without a contract. Two months into the job, I realised I got paid whenever he felt like paying his workers. My salary might come at the end of the month, middle or even the start. It made it very difficult to plan around my salary, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, he would post Instagram stories of him popping bottles in the club even though he was owing me my salary. I remember leaving after a year of suffering and poverty.

At my new job, the contract had a salary date and honestly, I just thought they were fucking around. So imagine my surprise when my salary showed up first thing on the 28th of my first month. I almost ran mad. Based on my last experience, I just assumed salaries were based on vibes and inshallah. I was so used to not knowing when my salary would come, that I found it hard to spend money or live my life. I had to unlearn this fear and breathe easy because I finally had a structure where I could save and make plans.

2. “I’m finally in a work environment where I can speak up without fear of being fired”

— Kiitan

The CEO at my old job came in and turned our work culture into one built on fear and silence. Before he was hired, my co-workers and I were all very friendly and supportive of one another, but I’m not even joking when I say this guy came in and we all turned on one another. He would yell and force his ideas and opinions on the rest of us. It was so bad that I eventually pushed back at a meeting once, and he asked that my contract be terminated.

The first thing I noticed at my new job was how everyone communicated in such an open and transparent way. There is public acknowledgment and reward for work done, and I don’t feel the toxicity of people calling me names or trying to pull me down. I’ve also had to unlearn the need to work on my own. I was used to handling tasks all by myself, but now I understand the concept of delegation. I don’t have to carry everything on my head.

3. “I’ve had to unlearn how I communicate with my co-workers.”

— Faridah

At my old job, the CEO’s wife ran things. She worked in the company too, and it was a case of “it’s my husband’s company, so I can do anything I like”.

She made working there a horrible experience, and no one could challenge her. But the weird plot twist? Well, I found out her husband was the one asking her to say these things. He wanted to maintain his “good guy” personality, so he used her to pass his message across since she already had a fearless personality.

The best part about my new job is the fact that there’s friendship here. There’s a sense of community, and the people here are kind and thoughtful. I also had to unlearn how I communicate with my co-workers. I used to speak with the fear of being shouted at or unnecessarily scolded like a child. Now I can talk freely and my opinion is encouraged.

4. “My former co-worker was hooked to a hospital drip and still working”

— Chacha

My old boss masqueraded as a woke guy, but deep down, he was the most toxic person I ever worked with. He made me and the other interns in our organisation work for more than a year without public holidays, leave or salary reviews. Mind you, we were supposed to only work as interns for three months. There was the time my co-worker asked for permission to go to a wedding, only for the office to force her to work on her laptop at that wedding while everyone else was doing owambe. The place was so toxic it filtered into our WhatsApp platform where my boss was always dragging people.

My new job is different. I remember asking our account officer if I’d be getting my full salary since I was on probation. She laughed and asked if I thought they were monsters. Then there was the time I fell ill and HR asked me to take all the time I needed. Coming from an organisation where someone once worked even though they were hooked to a hospital drip, all of this was surprising to me. I finally realised that the way I was treated at my old job was wrong and they were not invested in my physical or career growth.

5. “I don’t feel guilty about putting my health first anymore”

— IK

The company culture at my old workplace revolved around our CEO’s mood. One day we’re wearing t-shirts and jeans, and the next day they’re asking all of us to dress corporate. He also had a habit of sacking people by just deleting their emails and removing them from Slack. He was doing all of this but still maintaining a “you can tell me anything, I’m young like you” energy. He saw himself as this saviour we should all look up to. Working there really affected my self-esteem even though I was getting therapy.

At my new job, even though we have a structural hierarchy, everyone is equal. It doesn’t feel like this person is that other person’s boss, it just feels like they’re in a particular role to contribute to the overall company. I’m also learning that I don’t have to overcompensate at work. If I’m not feeling good, I can take a break, and it’s fine. I don’t have to feel guilty because I’m putting my health first.

6. “I’ve regained the confidence my old job stole from me”

— Tejiro

My old job hired me as a programmes assistant, but I got there and started taking the responsibilities of a programmes officer. I was hired to support the programme officer, but here I was basically serving as the team lead. I kept telling myself it was a learning experience, but they would belittle and silence me in meetings. My boss would come in, and I’d have to get him coffee or food. I was babying a full-grown adult. It took a lot from me and my confidence because I started doubting if it’d ever get better than this. It was really bad.

I joined my new job and was still trapped in that feeling where I saw myself as less. It has taken a while, but now It feels good to be working in a space where I have a voice. I’m learning that I don’t have to always wait for validation because the people I work with trust my work. I listen to some people’s stories now and I’m like, “Damn, that used to be me”.

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Food / 8 Things That Taste Better When They’re Free by BigCabal: 10:45pm On Mar 21
It’s an undeniable fact that eating food is an amazing experience, but you know what hits better than good food? Free food! With the economy alone, free food is everything a Nigerian needs. As long as it doesn’t involve a debit alert, eating these eight foods brings bliss.

1. Snail
Even before inflation held us by the neck, snails were already for the elite. As slimy and slow as they are, those suckers cost a lot. What’s more annoying is the fact that you can spend ₦3k for only four pieces of snails. That fourth one is by the grace of God. If anyone buys you peppered snail, please hug them.

2. A seafood platter
Except you own a canoe and can navigate the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, a seafood platter is best served when a sponsor provides the money to pay. The most annoying part is how tiny everything on the plate is. From the calamari to the shrimp, they’re all so tiny. I also believe we’re all pretending to love oysters, but that’s for another day. Seafood tastes so damn good. Dear anon, please take a cue.

3. Asun
As much as goats are cute pets, they make even better as asun. Who doesn’t like soft and succulent meat? The only issue is, goats are expensive. Very expensive. Eating asun these days is a gift. If you see anyone bringing out their card to pay for a plate of asun, eat them. Our motto is: eat the rich.

4. Pasta
Ah…pasta. The enjoyment badge for every happening babe. As tasty as they are, they cost a ridiculous amount. Imagine someone charging you ₦9k for spaghetti you can boil at home. Well, I guess that’s the price for enjoyment.

5. Anything beans
Forget the days of ₦10 for one akara. Now, akara is rolling with the big boys. A bag of beans is now almost ₦80k and the akara sellers are out for blood. Please what are you people eating with your agege bread on Saturday morning? If it’s akara just know you’re a thief.

6. Lamb chops
Hm… is there any need to say more? Bite anybody using a fork and knife to eat lamb chops and mashed potatoes outside. Except they can point to the person that paid, they’re rolling with Abba Kyari. Besides the criminal price for lamb chops, they’re so succulent and juicy. It’s unfair they cost so much.

7. Waffles or pancakes
The fluffier the better. The weird thing is how affordable they are, but why do you want to waste your money on something that will disappear in less than 30 minutes? Why? There’s no need. It’s either you make the flat pancake at home, or not eat it at all.

8. Small chops
Just like pancakes, small chops bang, but why waste your money? It’s just five pieces of savoury items thrown in foil paper. Drag someone to buy it for you. It’ll taste even better. The puff puff is fresher when it’s someone else’s ₦1k. Better yet, go and stand in front of one owambe and beg.

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Science/Technology / Google’s Africa Internet Cable To First Arrive In Togo by BigCabal: 10:23pm On Mar 21
Google has announced that Equiano, a subsea internet cable running through Portugal to South Africa, will first land in Togo. Equiano is expected to land in South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena later in the year, connecting the continent with Europe.

This announcement marks a milestone in Google’s plan to provide affordable internet access in Africa by building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. Last October, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a plan to invest $1billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa, of which project Equiano is part of.

For Togo which currently ranks as the sixth-best country in Africa regarding ease of doing business, the landing of Equiano opens up more possibilities and opportunities. It’s expected that once connected to Equiano, it will provide 20 times more bandwidth than any other cable currently serving West Africa, helping Togo attract even more investments and further boosting its vibrant startup culture.

“Broadening the access to high-speed internet is a fundamental part in our national digital development process as we strive towards achieving the objectives set out in our Digital 2025 Strategy,” Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation for Togo said.

According to an economic impact assessment of Equiano in Togo from Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, it is estimated that the subsea cable will add approximately 37,000 new jobs between 2022 and 2025, and increase Togo’s economic output by an additional USD 351 million during the same period.

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa commented, “The landing of Equiano affirms Google’s commitment to the African continent, to support Africa’s digital transformation. We are thrilled that Togo will be Equiano’s first landing on the African continent, as it aligns with the country’s continuing efforts to promote digital inclusion for Africa.”

This announcement is coming a year after Google shut down project Loon, a cost-effective solution to the difficult challenge of bringing internet access to people in underserved remote areas. The shutdown of Google’s Project Loon brought up questions about the fate of Google’s other internet projects targeted at Africa. The progress made so far hints that Equiano will be different from Loon.

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Business / How Much Did African Startups Raise In 2021? by BigCabal: 9:38pm On Mar 16
In 2021, African startups raised over $4 billion across 355 funding deals. Across Africa, this number is almost 3x times what was raised in 2020 and 2019, where the ecosystem recorded $1.7 billion and $1.3 billion respectively.

While 2021’s total tech funding in Africa is certainly the most impressive factor for the ecosystem, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Across Africa’s 4 regions, many new firsts were achieved in 2021. It was the year $100 million single-round raises were normalised with 10 startups—including unicorns Wave, OPay, Flutterwave, and Chipper Cash—raising $100 million and breaking the records. That’s a significant increase from 2020, where no African startup raised $100 million in a single round, and a 400% total increase from the only 2 startups that raised such amounts pre-2021.

2021 was also the year the number of unicorns increased, by 166%, from 3 unicorns to 8. Andela, Chipper Cash, Wave, OPay and Flutterwave joined Jumia, Fawry, and Interswitch on the global stage.

There are a few other markers of the maturity of Africa’s tech ecosystem, including a derriere of veteran founders investing in early- and growth-stage startups on the continent. Flutterwave’s Gbenga Agboola, for example, invested in Brass and PayDay, while dynamic duo, Eloho Omame and Odun Eweniyi banded together to form FirstCheck Africa, a venture that invests in “ridiculously early” startups by female founders.

All of these key developments are explored in TechCabal’s 2021 End-of-Year Report.

For the first time, TechCabal has released data that documents the state of Africa’s ecosystem in the given year. The free-to-download report tracks the milestones Africa’s tech industry recorded in 2021. In our report, we cover the following themes and topics:

How much did African startups raise in 2021, and how much did each of the regions raise?
Which tech sectors, including fintech, edtech, and agritech got the most funding in each of the regions, and how do these numbers compare to previous years?

2021 also saw some of the biggest and most important mergers and acquisitions (M&As) across the continent, including Flutterwave’s acquisition of Disha and MFS Africa’s acquisition of Capricorn. These M&As are covered in the report.
With an influx of funds into the ecosystem, more VC firms and angel investors popped up last year. Who are they?
What can we expect from early-stage startups given that over $250 million venture funds were launched by a host of Silicon Valley companies including Google?

Download the free report here and find out.

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Nairaland / General / Fuel Scarcity + National Grid Collapses — How Are Nigerians Coping? by BigCabal: 9:09pm On Mar 16
Guys and girls, I’m writing this with 10% left on my laptop battery.

We’re in the part of a horror movie where someone says, “It can’t get any worse,” and then it does. It started with contaminated fuel, then unending fuel scarcity, a surge in fuel price, transportation, food and now… Nigeria’s national grid keeps collapsing.

The only people enjoying this are the people that like semo. They’re used to suffering. Throw the rest of us into a group chat to rant, and this is how it’ll unfold.

Zikoko: Hey Nigerians. How far?

Fred: Is it Friday yet? Can I drink? I feel like I’ve aged 30 years.

David: If I start talking, I can cry. First of all, I left Lagos for Abuja, thinking electricity would be better there. But I should have known from the ridiculous flight fare that nowhere is safe. I had to enter a cramped bus all the way from Lagos. The consolation was the thought of escaping the Lagos madness. Well, I’ll tell you for free: Abuja is much worse. There’s no light. And the sun? Just cook me.

Nkechi: Let’s not even get started with that sun. A few days ago, my generator was stolen. I’m practically losing my mind in this heat.

David: Ehyaaa, sorry. What d’you mean your generator was stolen?

Sarah: I just want my mummy. I’m the real mumu for trusting that things would get better in this country. Now, look at me. First, I’ll struggle to buy fuel, then I’ll now struggle to hide it from my neighbours again.

Tommy: I feel you. “Stay on the island,” they said. “A serviced estate is the soft life,” they said. Now, look at me. I’m in Ikoyi, and estate generator fuel price don pass rent money.

David: What do you mean stolen generator?

Fav: Hug anybody you know living in a serviced apartment.

Pam: Forget the heat. My landlady just turned off the water for the entire building because there’s no light to pump more. Not that there’s no water at all o. She’s just saving our water for her family and church members — she’s also a pastor.

David: What—

Uche:
Family and church ke?

Pam: I’m trying not to break down. I need to focus on work.

Uche: With everything, deadlines at work are still choking me. There’s no motivation for me to even think.

Fred: Pele bro. I haven’t been to the office as much as I’ve been there in the last week. Today is my third day in a row. God abeg.

Sarah: You people have money o. Getting to work is another stress. The transport prices go up every day. I’m paying almost triple the amount we started the year with.

Uche: Remote workers are the ones enjoying.

Fav: You want to roll with the big boys? Uche, e touch remote workers too. What happens when my laptop dies? How many hours do I have in a day to be spending hours in a fuel queue? On Monday, I had to take all my meetings in the car for four hours to get fuel.

Dami: Babe, imagine doing that and finally getting to the pump and the POS rejects your card?

Fav: Omo.

Dami: I had to go to another filling station to queue up. Again!

Ama: In Ibadan, fuelling stations aren’t even selling to people with jerry cans again. My only alternative is the black market. I’ve been buying 25 litres for ₦10k. I can’t take this for another month.

Fav: Do we have a choice? The other day, I had to buy from the black market and it knocked my car and generator engine. Look, I can’t even cry. My freezer is packed with food, and I need to keep my gen running. The generator noise is also killing me. God abeg!

Richard: Add Ogun state to the list. My only saving grace today was my neighbour’s house. I’ve never been this tired and stressed out.

Fred: Broooooo. The power grid has collapsed more than Jean Grey whenever she tries to use her powers. It feels like we’re being punished. Every bad thing seems to be happening to us at the same time.

Nkechi: Coping isn’t even a thing. No one is coping. We’re just existing.

Aisha: If I talk, I’ll break down.

David: If your partner is in uni, you can’t even vent. ASUU is also choking them. It’s been three months since my babe has been stuck at home. We’re both tensed up.

Fav: Everybody get as e dey pinch dem for this country.

David: Nkechi, can we talk about your stolen generator now?

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Business / Africaworks’ Ambition Transcends Being A Coworking Space by BigCabal: 11:31pm On Mar 15
The air changes the moment you step into AfricanWorks’ compound in Victoria Island, one of the highbrow areas in Lagos, Nigeria. The first thing you see is the greeneries all over the compound, the atmosphere is calm and quiet. It feels like you’ve just escaped the hustle and bustle of Lagos.

As you’d expect, the outdoor experience is a hint of what goes on in the interior.

The main door is see-through so you can tell of the comfort that awaits inside. After a minute in the lobby, Gregoire Schwebig, founder and CEO of AfricaWorks came out to meet me. He’s of average height and moderately built. His energy, however, didn’t feel like that of a man who had just completed a trip from Paris to Lagos that morning. As we exchanged pleasantries, one question lingered; why is this French man building a home-grown business in Africa?

Schwebig was born and grew up in Paris with a close tie to Francophone Africa. His mother was born in Senegal, so he visited Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Togo while growing up. After graduating from ESSEC Business School, one of the best business schools in Europe, he went on to work at Lehman Brothers in London as a financial analyst. After Lehman Brothers liquidated, he joined Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

In 2011, Schwebig joined Fanasi Capital, a venture capital fund focused on high-growth startups in East Africa, as a senior associate, and then moved to Kenya and remained there for 8 years. He was elected as a consular adviser to the French government on the affairs of 7 countries in East and South Africa. In 2016, he became the president of the Kenya chapter of the French Chamber of Commerce, a dedicated body that helps French companies and entrepreneurs set up in Kenya.

Schwebig wore many hats during his time in Kenya; in 2014, he started Haussmann Africa, a corporate real estate company that built and designed custom offices for companies. The company, which he still runs till date, has designed offices for Uber, L’oreal and Total.

After designing offices for a while, he realised there were gaps he wanted to fill, so in 2019, he started AfricaWorks.

Building AfricaWorks
The way people work had already started shifting before the pandemic hit in 2020. The pandemic only expedited the shift and forced businesses to restructure work to fit the new normal which is hybrid.

While there was already full-blown support for the future of work in the West, there was little or no solution in Africa to support the growing business ecosystem—there was no real pan-African flexible workplace solution that could power the future of work across the continent. And here is where AfricaWorks, a pan-African flexible workspace provider chain, plugs itself.

The idea was simple: build a world-class workspace that brings together the best businesses under one roof in one city. Then scale and replicate the process in another. AfricaWorks launched its first space in Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast, and now operates in 9 cities—Abidjan, Accra, Cairo, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar Es Salaam, Jo’burg, Lagos, and Nairobi—across 8 countries and counting.

The company lists top multinationals like Glovo, Universal Music, L’oreal, Total and more as part of companies working out of its spaces.

“We currently have over 150 businesses and over 2,000 individuals working from our spaces. We are also opening more spaces in the coming months,” Schwebig told TechCabal.

More than just a coworking space
For AfricaWorks, as the African tech and business ecosystem grows, it will continue to grow to support them across the continent. Beyond being a pan-African coworking space, it now wants to do more as it slowly transitions into a tech company. It has started building a business-to-business (B2B) product that will provide full-on operation support for its clients.

“Our B2B service marketplace will be called AfricaWorks Services, which will help us connect our clients to partnered services providers like recruiting, marketing, finance, expansion, and everything else they need to grow their businesses,” said Schwebig, who also co-founded French-African Foundation, an organisation that contributes to the emergence of a Franco-African succession.

The play here is to reduce third party friction and be the only direct partner their members need. AfricaWorks Services will partner with talent companies like OfferZen and Andela to bring qualified talent to its member companies; partner with marketing and financial firms to bring quality marketing and financial services to its community; and African tradetech like Norebase to help in expansion and manage trade across Africa.

Schwebig believes that Africa will play a pivotal role in the future of work and they [AfricanWorks] are positioning to be a crucial part of that movement. He believes this is becoming evident in the way the African tech ecosystem is booming and the surge in talent exodus. AfricaWorks wants to play in the talent services but first for its members and then—maybe in the future—expanding the services to the public.

AfricaWorks operates in 9 cities and counting and these countries, though they may have similar problems, have a peculiar business landscape that requires a bespoke solution. Schwebig confirmed that, while Ivory Coast remains AfricaWorks’ biggest market in terms of patronage and revenue, it has invested more in Nigeria due to the size of the market and the prospect of the tech ecosystem, especially.

Among other places, the company is also planning to open new space at the Kotoka international airport in Accra, Ghana.

According to Goldie Iyamu, the marketing head at AfricaWorks, by the time all the pending projects are completed, the company should push into 500 businesses and over 3,000 people working across their spaces.

After 2 years and 6 months, AfricaWorks has experienced astronomical growth and now it’s positioning itself as the partner for businesses with pan-African growth ambitions.

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Car Talk / The Only Correct Way To Drive In Lagos State by BigCabal: 11:22pm On Mar 15
Driving in Lagos state is not the same as driving anywhere else in the world m. Here’s what you need to know if you want to learn how to drive correctly in Lagos.

Have a spare car in your compound
Driving in Lagos means you should have a spare car in your house. Because if , the real owners of the car decide to help you bash it, will you now be left with nothing? If you want to drive and you don’t have a spare car, better enter a cab.

Drop your sanity at home
Lagos roads are not a place for people with sound minds. They’re for people who have nothing to lose. When you decide to drive on a Lagos road, you need to embody the spirit of someone who can do anyhow at any time. Scary stuff, but it needs to be done.

Always have enough food stuff in your car
With traffic that often lasts longer than the will to live, you should always make sure that you have enough to cook. As a passenger, you can sleep and pretend to not be hungry. However, if you’re driving, you need all the energy. You fit make sharp-sharp amala.

Remember that you’re never wrong
In Lagos, everyone that drives is right. Even if they’re passing one-way or bashing your car, they’re right. You too need to embody the spirit of always being right.

LASTMA is your biggest opp
As you drive, have it at the back of your mind. LASTMA officers are out for blood, so don’t give them any. Complete papers, fire extinguisher, and whatever else they need. If not, the billing that’ll occur will wreck you.

Pedestrians are a suggestion
To drive in Lagos state, you don’t rate pedestrians. The road was not built with them in mind, so why will you drive with them in mind?

Refresh your insults vocabulary
Every morning before you enter the road, refresh the insults in your vocabulary. Driving in Lagos means you have to be constantly innovating with your insultive creativity.

Have your therapist on speed dial
Driving in Lagos will traumatise you, so you should have the person that’ll un-traumatise you. If you didn’t have a therapist before, better go and book one before you hit the road.

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Nairaland / General / Facebook Content Moderators In Kenya To Receive 30-50% Pay Raise, After Protest by BigCabal: 10:27am On Mar 07
Facebook content moderators in Kenya will receive a 30-50% pay rise. This announcement comes two weeks after an investigation report by TIME revealed that content moderators in Nairobi were subject to poor pay and working conditions by Sama, a company responsible for Facebook’s sub-Saharan Africa content moderation since 2019.

Every content moderator will receive an extra 20,000 Kenyan shillings ($176) per month, Sama told employees in a meeting on Tuesday, sources revealed to TIME.

“The raise means that the lowest-paid Facebook content moderators at Sama will now take home around 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($439) each month after-tax, or around $2.20 per hour for a 9-hour working day. This is up from around $1.50 per hour previously.”

All content moderators were also promised yearly bonuses worth one month of their salary, as an incentive to remain at the company, according to the sources.

Despite the obvious correlation, Habel Kamau, a human resources director at Sama’s Nairobi office, said that the salary increase wasn’t a result of the release of the investigation by TIME. He claimed that the conversations about a salary increase had been ongoing for a while now, adding that the pay raise was made possible due to budget cuts from other places and not as a result of Sama receiving additional money from Facebook.

Although the pay raise is welcomed by many of the content moderators, some still say it’s not enough. Sama employees remain some of Facebook’s lowest-paid workers anywhere in the world. While the lowest starting salary of a Facebook content moderator at Sama is $2.20 per hour, outsourced content moderators for Facebook in the U.S. are paid a typical starting salary of $18 per hour.

South African Daniel Motaung, a former employee of Sama who was fired after trying to lead a union, noted that in 2019 employees had requested for their pay to be doubled. “This increase will make a difference but it won’t change their lives,” Motaung said in the statement. “They still won’t be able to buy a house or feed their families in line with the ‘lifting the poor out of poverty’ narrative that Sama continuously boasts about.”

Sama didn’t comment on allegations that its managers suppressed a unionization effort in 2019, which led to Motaung losing his Job. Meta, Facebook’s parent company also declined to comment on the announcement of the pay raise.

The announcement of the pay raise is seen as a win for the content moderators and validation of the power in employees speaking up.

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Politics / What National Assembly Got Wrong About Amending Constitution by BigCabal: 10:12am On Mar 07
There are many Nigerians who hate the 1999 constitution and just want it completely scrapped. This has been their one prayer point for years:

The sentiment is that the constitution is a fraudulent document that was brought to life under unfortunate circumstances and doesn’t fully accommodate the Nigerian experience. For those critics, the 1999 constitution is a malaria drug being used to treat a kidney infection.

Despite agitations for a new “people-driven” constitution, the Nigerian government is not interested in the hard work of compiling a new one from scratch. So, the only middle ground to address the concerns about its inadequacy is to amend it. A constitutional amendment is basically like a home revamp — you want to get an AC to replace the standing fan, get a couple of new throw pillows, and maybe throw a new rug in the centre of the room.

The National Assembly has been in the news a lot over the past week following the constitutional amendment votes of March 1, 2022. Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives voted on 68 bills with issues ranging from restructuring, welfare, to women’s rights. The simple rule of the vote was that each bill must be passed in both chambers. Failure to pass in one chamber was a failure to pass in both.

We’ve already highlighted some of the most impressive bills approved by the lawmakers. Here is a look at their worst decisions.

1. No judicial reform
For context into this particular subject, let us remind you that more than 70% of inmates in Nigerian prisons are awaiting trial. Some of them have been in prison awaiting trial for so long that if they were immediately convicted for their suspected crime, they’d have finished their sentences.

Now let’s play a quick game of Yay or Nay:
Who wants a judicial system that ensures timely dispensation of justice? Now, who wants a constitution that provides timelines within which civil and criminal cases have to be determined at trial to eliminate delay in justice delivery? Also, who wants a system that allows courts to conduct trials remotely, virtually and online with the full aid of modern technology? If you voted Yay for all, then you’re not ready to be a senator.

The House of Representatives voted Yay on all three bills, but the Senate went in the opposite direction and rejected them. Who does judicial reform hurt?

2. No punishment for changing parties
“Cross-carpeting” and “defection” are words that have become popular in political circles in Nigeria because of how much politicians don’t sit down in one place. Many of them switch between the same parties to pursue their personal interests so often that the average politician has been a member of at least two parties. A controversial part of this culture is when elected public office holders abandon a party that helped them win the office and take that advantage to another party.

A bill was introduced to terminate the tenures of such officeholders, but it was rejected by the Senate. This doomed the bill even though the House of Representatives passed it. Failure to punish elected officials who fail to take their mandates seriously upholds a culture that allows politicians to do as they please without consequences. It’s not a surprise that the bill didn’t pass because it’s the same people that would be affected by it that made the decision. It’s like expecting goats to vote against guarding yams.

The Nays have it.

3. Voting for torture?
The 1999 constitution prohibits torture and establishes the right to dignity for every Nigerian, but torture enjoys free rein in Nigeria. Security agencies are known to torture and dehumanise Nigerians and get away with it especially because it’s so loosely defined. For lawmakers that claim to care about the wellbeing of Nigerians, closing the loopholes that fuel this culture should be an easy decision.

An alteration bill was introduced to have the constitution clearly define acts that qualify as torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Both chambers voted against the bill, handing torture specialists in security agencies a lifeline.

4. FCT Minister slot
As the child of circumstance that it is, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is not administered by a governor, but a minister that’s appointed by the president. Seven FCT ministers have been appointed since 1999 but none of them is an FCT indigene. There have been campaigns by FCT indigenes to change this, and there has even been a court judgement in their favour.

However, when lawmakers voted on an alteration bill that would make it unconstitutional to appoint an FCT minister that’s not an indigene, the House voted yes, but the Senate voted no.

5. Blocking women
A lot has been said about the performance of gender-based bills voted on by lawmakers on March 1, 2022. We have written extensively about their rejection, and the general attitude of the National Assembly towards gender-based bills will continue to be a blot on its records.

Passing any of the five gender-based bills would have enhanced the inclusion of women in politics, governance and society, but the National Assembly said: you guessed right

6. No name change for Barkin Ladi LGA
This is a very strange one and we’ll explain why. Of the 68 bills considered, six of them were about changing or correcting the names of some local government areas across the country. Five of them passed, but the one that sought to rename Barkin Ladi local government area of Plateau state to Gwol LGA was rejected by both chambers.

Gwol is the ancestral name of the indigenous people living in the local government area, and they want the name to reflect their identity, not Barkin Ladi which is from the Hausa language. The renaming issue is a subject affected by ethnoreligious sentiment and a similar bill was defeated in 2017.

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Science/Technology / MTN Buys 144 Plots Of Digital Land, Now First African Company In The Metaverse by BigCabal: 9:22pm On Mar 01
Today, Africa’s largest telecom company, MTN bought 144 plots of digital land in the Africarare metaverse Ubuntuland for an undisclosed sum.

MTN with this purchase laid claim to becoming the first African company to enter the metaverse, according to a press release on the company’s website.

Ubuntuland is being developed by Africarare and Mann Made Media and will be open to public land sales later this year. Ubuntuland will showcase some of the best of African art, fashion, entertainment, sport, tech and creativity and will provide a platform for artists from across the continent to showcase their work. Africarare is the first South African metaverse, housing digital land with roots in the African continent. It sold out it’s debut Non-fungible token (NFT) art collection last year for about $50,000.

“We’ve seen an immense amount of growth in the NFT space marketplace and Metaverses across the US, Europe, Asia, there hasn’t been much coming out of Africa. We feel there’s a great opportunity for Africa to take part in this new world.” Mic Mann, co-founder of Africarare said in an interview last year.

This move comes after MTN’s recent brand refresh positioning itself as a technology company, rather than a telecommunications company. “This investment demonstrates MTN’s commitment to supporting African innovation,” the group said in a statement.

Through its presence in the metaverse, MTN intends to increase its customer attractiveness through a series of experiences merged with consumer passion points, like gaming and music,” Bernice Samuels, chief marketing officer at MTN group said.

Alongside MTN, South African advertising agency M&C Saatchi Abel also purchased its own plot of land in the newly created Ubuntuland. Outside Africa, companies like Samsung, Adida and PricewaterhouseCoopers have hopped on the trend too, buying plots of digital land.

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Nairaland / General / Stuck In Sumy: Nigerian Students Can’t Leave Ukraine Under Russian Invasion by BigCabal: 1:19pm On Feb 28
Linda* left Nigeria for Ukraine in 2021 to pursue a medical degree at Sumy State University. Until February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Sumy was a peaceful place for her and hundreds of other Nigerian students studying there.

“The standard of living was comfortable. Everything was affordable and great for students,” she says.

Sumy, a city in north-eastern Ukraine, was one of the first to be attacked after Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered an invasion that had been feared for weeks. A confrontation between the invading force and Ukrainian defenders on February 24 led to the burning down of a church. Some of the fighting took place near Sumy State University where a Ukrainian military brigade is stationed. Russian forces were at some point reported to have taken control of half the city, but Ukrainians took it back on February 25.

Three days after the invasion started, Nigerians in Ukraine like Linda and her friend, Blessing*, are stuck in the middle of the chaos in Sumy.

They’re currently staying in an apartment they rented in the city, unable to get on the road to escape to neighbouring countries like others have done. We spoke with Linda about her situation on February 25, a few minutes after she left a bomb shelter she was hiding in for safety.

Stranded
“Presently, our city is in danger. We’ve heard some bombing this night. People are running helter-skelter now and they’re very scared. Students are scared. There’s no way to escape or travel. We’ve received lots of messages from people telling us to go to Poland but the roads are not safe to travel. Russian soldiers are around and they’ve started fighting already.

“Students are scattered everywhere. There are four of us in my apartment. There are more students in the hostel and we even heard about gunshots and smoke around there this night. All of them are underground in the bomb shelters now. We messaged them, but won’t know what’s happening until later.”

Blessing added:
“The situation here does not look so good because there’s no way to get out of the city. Most people don’t even have what to eat. Everyone is stuck here.”

“We eat once a day”
The Russian invasion has disrupted socio-economic activities, including banks that are now shut down, and ATMs that no longer function for people that need to withdraw money needed for survival. Linda’s saving grace is that she was saving some money for a new phone. She wasn’t able to buy it last week, and the money is what she now depends on to survive.

She explained:
“We didn’t know this was going to happen. That’s the money I’m using to buy stuff to survive. I’m sure most students don’t have money on them. Shops are running out of food. They’ve closed down. You can’t even withdraw. Banks are closed.

“We can’t be eating anyhow. I eat once a day. I have to manage what I have. Other students, I don’t know if they have food but we’ve been trying our best to help others to share food. There’s nowhere to get money.”

Travelling is dangerous
Following an initial slow reaction to the crisis, the Nigerian government’s messaging is mostly now focused on telling Nigerians in Ukraine to run towards the borders.

Poland has been one of the most preferred destinations for Nigerians in Ukraine that are trying to escape the war. The two countries share a 332-mile long border. Travelling from Sumy to Rava-Ruska, a recommended border crossing into Poland, takes at least 12 hours under normal conditions.

Travelling there right now means passing through areas that are already under Russian attacks. This journey could now take an entire day, and possibly more if people are forced to walk. There have also been reports that Africans are not being prioritised for entry into Poland and even turned back into Ukraine.

“We just made up our minds that we’re not going anywhere because we don’t want the war that didn’t kill us while staying indoors to kill us on the way to a safe place. You just have to be careful. The Russian troops have harmed civilians and burnt houses.

“The Nigerian government should find a means to get us out of here. I saw the news that they told Russia to not touch their citizens. Please, does a bomb know the difference between citizens of whatever country?”

Worried parents
“We’re not trying to exaggerate. This is what we’re facing. We can’t just tell our parents because they’ll be so scared. My daddy messaged me that he heard the news and he had to get admitted. When he told me that, I stopped telling him things that are happening. I don’t want to hear anything bad from my parents. We’re praying to God to just stop everything.”

A desperate appeal
Not much of what the Nigerian government has said directly addresses people in Linda’s situation, especially other Nigerian students, like Blessing, that are with her. She wants that to change:

“We’re begging the Nigerian government to take necessary action. They should not keep quiet about it. They should help us because we’re actually stranded and stuck here in Sumy. How can we get to Poland when the roads are not safe? We can’t even sleep. We’re so scared.

“The Nigerian government should stop saying things they can’t do. They told us to form a group. We formed a Telegram group. We’ve been in many groups, no action. They told us to fill a form three weeks ago. We filled that form, but we don’t know where they put it. I’m so disappointed I’m from that country.”

Stay put
The most definite position of the Nigerian government on those trapped in Ukraine is to stay put for things to calm down.

For Nigerians in Ukraine like Linda and Blessing, they will have to do that under constant threats to their lives.

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Science/Technology / Meet The 19-year-old Nigerian Building His Own Blockchain Empire by BigCabal: 12:54pm On Feb 28
After Njoku Emmanuel’s father seized his laptop for “coding too much” and not facing his studies, he dropped out of school to focus on coding. 3 years later, he has become one of the best blockchain engineers of his generation, travelled the world, and now runs his own startup Lazerpay, a crypto payment gateway.

Njoku’s greeting was casual, like his outfit—a black round-neck t-shirt on jeans. His boisterous laugh set a natural mood for what would become a long but interesting conversation. It was a busy day in Lagos, and the murmuring voices around him indicated he was joining the video call from his office. The walls behind him had “Lazerpay” and some motivational quotes written all over them.

“Sorry for the noise, bro,” Njoku said, running his fingers through his locks. “It’s a busy week. We are going out of beta sometime next week, so all hands on deck!”

To avoid internet fluctuation, we switched off our cameras and dived into our conversation.

Lazerpay, a crypto payment gateway startup Njoku co-founded with Abdulfatai Suleiman and Prosper Ubi, was launched in October, and the reception has been massive. During its beta phase, the crypto startup has been endorsed by several tech and blockchain enthusiasts as a necessary innovation needed to accelerate crypto adoption in Africa. But what is even more remarkable about Lazerpay is Njoku, its 19-year-old CEO, who seemed to have emerged from nowhere to become one of the most sought-after young tech darlings in Africa.

Except he wasn’t a sudden emergence.

The Njoku we see today is a product of a seed planted about 7 years ago in Port Harcourt, the biggest city in the South-South region of Nigeria. In 2015, at 13, Njoku and his brothers were casually introduced to computer programming by their aunt, who was a robotic engineer. Since then, Njoku chose to write code and never looked back.

The lofty dream that followed was wanting to build an operating system like Bill Gates had, or a social media platform like Mark Zukerberg did. He wanted to be the African Mark Zukerberg and told everybody that cared to listen so, including his mother who wouldn’t stop jesting him for it. Njoku began to ask questions and pored through every content on computer programming he came across.

Born to an engineer father and a school teacher mother, Njoku was a mathematics whiz. He represented his school in the mathematics olympiad, won several medals, and lost a few. When his mates had a single mathematics textbook that had different topics like geometry, permutation and combination, and more, Njoku had a different textbook for each topic—each textbook as big as the all-encompassing ones.

“My father forbade us from using a calculator to solve our mathematics homework. Every computation had to be done with your head—why else do you have a head?” Njoku said. With this, his problem-solving skill was already top-notch; little wonder he was quick to embrace programming.

Because gaming was one of his favourite activities—having played video games with his siblings—at the time, he began to learn game development and started using C++ to build games. In 2017, he wrote his final secondary school exams and cleared all his papers, with A+ in mathematics and further mathematics.

Surprisingly, his next challenge will be finishing University.

“University was a waste of my time”
Like most Nigerian parents, Njoku’s parents wanted him to become a medical doctor—his older brother was already studying medicine. But Njoku had chosen his own path, one he wouldn’t let go of for the world.

He got admission to study electrical engineering at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) in 2018. This, his engineer father could live with.

In the same year, he joined Quiva Games, a gaming company based in Enugu, as an intern. Everything was going okay; his plate was full—a tasking engineering course and a job where he could build his coding skill. But, after a few classes in his first year, he realised engineering wasn’t as tasking as he had anticipated.

“I thought everything would be advanced, but it was people packed into a small hall to learn social sciences and general studies. I was like ‘What the hell is going on here?’ And the maths they were teaching at 100 level was like my JSS 3/SS 1 maths. So, it became a waste of my time.”

He knew he wasn’t going to do this for another 5 years, so he became laser-focused on coding. “Any time I was going to school, I was going to charge my laptop and code. I didn’t tell my parents. When they gave me money to buy textbooks, I used it to buy coding courses on Udemy.”

His father somehow found out he has been missing classes and invited him home. “I didn’t know it was a trick to seize my laptop. I went back to school and had to borrow laptop to finish some projects at hand and keep learning.”

COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise
When COVID-19 hit in 2020 and everywhere was locked down, everybody panicked and scared, Njoku was somewhat happy; he’d be away from school without getting into trouble. So, he upped his game and started coding 12 hours a day. He didn’t want to go back to school, and the only thing he had was to learn as fast as he could and get a remote job.

In March 2020, he got a job as a mobile application developer at Kwivar, a buy-now-pay-later company based in Port Harcourt.

“The salary was ₦70,000. When I got it, nobody could talk to me. I was the biggest boy I knew. My parents couldn’t believe you could get a job during the pandemic when companies were laying people off. Though the salary isn’t enough reason to not study medicine, they finally saw what I had seen since 2015.”

Introduction to the blockchain
Before the pandemic, Njoku had already started learning about blockchain. He’d taken Udemy courses on blockchain and had entered the finals of a hackathon project that would be held in Lagos in 2019—the first time he’d ever be in Lagos.

In April 2020, a month after he started working at Kwivar, he got another offer as a blockchain developer at Project Hydro, a blockchain company based in the British Virgin Islands. He would be paid $700 monthly in Hydro tokens. At this point, he knew he wasn’t going back to school; everything happening to him agreed with that decision.

Fast forward to September 2020, he wanted to leave Kwivar and needed something to replace it. So, he reached out to Ugochukwu Aronu, the co-founder of Xend, the parent company of Quiva Games where he’d interned for 5 months, to check if there was an opening. After sharing what he’d done at Project Hydro—decentralised wallet, snowflake infrastructure for decentralised identity—Aronu invited him to come to Enugu and join his new venture Xend Finance, a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform for credit unions, cooperatives, and individuals, backed by Google and Binance.

At the time, the pandemic was already easing up, and students had started going back to school. So, Njoku told his father he was going back to school. Aronu made him an offer—₦150,000 net salary, a MacBook, and free accommodation.

The days at Xend Finance: Njoku and Emeka Nweke, the lead blockchain engineer who taught him how to deploy complex smart contracts
“I went to Port Harcourt to show my parents the offer and told them I was dropping out of school. It was obvious they couldn’t do anything about it. Going back to school just to graduate and earn about half or as much as I was already earning wasn’t wise,” Njoku said.

It was at this point that his parents knew and accepted Njoku’s crazy idea to drop out. At Xend Finance, he had to step in when the lead blockchain engineer was unavailable, and that accelerated his blockchain knowledge. Despite the close call—since they’d already scheduled to launch by December 2020—he led the build but not without a hiccup.

“It was difficult because I had to take charge of an entire project in the middle of building. I fixed the bug, wrote, and deployed smart contracts. But I made a deployment error that cost the company $10,000.” So Aronu told him the money he lost would be deducted from his salary. At that point his salary had jumped to ₦300,000. He panicked and started applying to international jobs—at least those ones could pay him enough money to service the debt.

He would later find out Aronu was only joking, but by then he had gotten an offer from MakerDAO, one of the biggest DeFi companies in the world. He was the first Nigerian engineer on the team. As usual, he went home to show his parents his new offer and his mother couldn’t believe her dropout son could earn over $3,000 per month. But that was the beginning.

After MakerDAO, the offers wouldn’t stop coming. He got a contract offer from Instadapp, a DeFi protocol company, for $90 per hour. “I was like, these people don’t know me: I’ll work 20 hours per day!”

He resigned from Xend Finance and was ready to make his mark on the global blockchain ecosystem. He relocated to Dubai.

Dubai was his passport to the world
MakerDAO was having an offsite meetup in Portugal and Njoku was supposed to go, but his visa wasn’t approved on time. He was frustrated, so his aunt, the robotic engineer, advised him to try applying to travel to Europe from Ghana or anywhere outside Nigeria. “She also suggested Dubai, and I took it. After staying in Dubai for a month, I told her I’m not coming back home.”

In Dubai, more job opportunities came. He was on top of the world; he could now reject offers and travel the world. For an 18-year-old boy, there was enough money in the bank so he told his father to leave his brother’s medical school’s tuition to him. “My brother is in Bulgaria, so imagine earning in naira and paying tuition in euro. So it’s only right I took that off my father’s plate.”

He got a contract offer of $3,000 per week from Avarta, a blockchain security company based in Singapore. He joined them and built their entire blockchain infrastructure.

Then he met Yele Bademosi, founder and CEO at Nestcoin, who would later become one of Lazerpay’s early investors. Bademosi then became Njoku’s mentor, so when he wanted to start Nestcoin, Njoku was one of the first engineers he reached out to. It was around this time that the idea to build Lazerpay began to form.

Njoku dropped everything to focus on Lazerpay. Avarta reached out with a full-time offer of $7,000 per month and $50,000 worth of Avarta token, but he rejected it. They came back with another offer of $15,000 per month, but Njoku was running with his new vision now. Before, the vision was to become a great engineer, but now it’s to become a great founder.

So Njoku forfeited everything. He left MakerDAO in December 2021 and his Maker token that was worth over $200,000 and would have vested this February. He rejected a salary package worth over $300,000 from Avarta. All because he believed Lazerpay is the future of payment and will be worth much more than everything he’s given up. And also because he was already raising funds and had to put his skin in the game.

He knew what he wanted from a young age and stood by it. His steadfastness has turned everybody around him into a believer; his parents have now begun nudging his youngest sibling to study software engineering.

Njoku isn’t Zukerberg and may never be, but he’s building his own empire in the blockchain world. At 19, this can only be the beginning of his journey.

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Science/Technology / Flutterwave Launches SME Lending, Fintech-as-a-service, Google & Apple Pay by BigCabal: 9:09pm On Feb 21
Pan-African fintech firm Flutterwave on Friday announced a rebrand of its logo and dashboard as well as the addition of small business lending, fintech-as-a-service (FaaS), and more to its suite of offerings.

The announcement comes 2 days after Flutterwave confirmed it had raised $250 million in a Series D round that tripled the company’s valuation to over $3 billion. Led by founder and CEO Olugbenga Agboola, the company facilitates cross-border payments transactions of small-to-large businesses in Africa via one API.

In a virtual event themed “Flutterwave 3.0”, Africa’s most valuable startup and payments giant rolled out a series of products and services including FaaS services for embedded finance, SME loans for its users, card issuance for a wide array of clients while announcing the addition of Apple Pay and Google Pay to its payment options.

Flutterwave Capital, the new SME loans product, is offered in partnership with the company’s lending partners—CashConnect Microfinance Bank, MoneyWise Microfinance Bank, Wema Bank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, and Sterling Bank.

The new product will enable businesses “easily access loans without collateral, cumbersome documentation, and other stringent terms and conditions,” a blog post on Flutterwave’s website reads, adding that eligible applicants can access the funds they need in less than 2 business days.

“With Flutterwave Capital, we’re making it easier for business owners to access the funds they require to grow their businesses. Business owners can expand, increase inventory, hire more labour, pay bills, run marketing campaigns, and ultimately grow revenue with these funds,” the company said.

Currently, only Flutterwave businesses in Nigeria can access loans but the company says it is working to make it available to its businesses in South Africa, Kenya, and other markets where it operates.

As regards the fintech-as-a-service solution, Flutterwave is opening up its infrastructure to allow other companies to use its APIs to embed financial capabilities into their existing applications, products, and services.

Flutterwave’s FaaS service provides a unified tech stack that includes KYC, account opening, debit card issuance, payments, and real-time transfers through a single endpoint, account servicing, and compliance.

The solution helps companies bypass the often gruelling work of building the infrastructure, integrating multiple, disparate financial systems, licensing, and compliance required in building and offering consumers digital financial services.

Flutterwave also helps businesses outside Africa expand their operations on the continent with an international clientele that includes Booking.com, Flywire, and Uber.

The new set of offerings and features is in line with Flutterwave’s ambitious product expansion drive. Last year, the company launched Flutterwave Market for merchants to sell their goods via an online marketplace and, most recently, Send, a remittance service that empowers customers to seamlessly send money to recipients to and from Africa.

In March 2021, the San Francisco-headquartered and Lagos-based startup raised $170 million in a Series C round at a valuation of $1 billion. The latest financing thus brings its total investments secured since launched in 2016 to $475 million (plus a $35 million Series B in 2020 and a $20 million Series A in 2018).

The $3 billion valuation sees Flutterwave surpass the $2 billion mark set by SoftBank-backed fintech OPay and FTX-backed cross-border payments platform Chipper Cash last year.

Currently, Flutterwave has an infrastructure reach across 34 countries on the continent and processes 200 million transactions worth more than $16 billion. More than 900,000 businesses globally use its solution to process payments in 150 currencies and across different payment modes: local and international cards, mobile wallets, bank transfers, and its consumer product Barter, which now allows for multicurrency wallets.

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Politics / Why Bola Tinubu Is Trending In Osun State? by BigCabal: 8:26pm On Feb 21
A few days before the 2018 Osun state governorship election, Bola Tinubu made national headlines for claiming to be richer than the entire state.

Jagaban, as he’s fondly called, made that claim after being accused of installing a governorship candidate to harvest the state’s money for him.

Have you seen the state of his (Bullion) vans? Mad!

Four years later, months to another Osun governorship election, the former Lagos state governor is back to becoming a trending topic in Osun state.

From where to where?
As far as godfathers go in Nigerian politics, Jagaban is top of his class.

He has handpicked all the three governors that have emerged in Lagos since he left the Government House in 2007.

His reach extends across much of the southwest too, which means he’s had one or two things to say about who gets picked where in the region.

The candidate he was accused of installing four years ago is Gboyega Oyetola who is also his cousin.

This guy.

Oyetola narrowly won the 2018 election and is now trying to win a second term in office. But his bid has caused some friction in the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A trip down memory lane? Why not?
Before there was Oyetola as Jagaban’s alleged Osun patsy, there was Rauf Aregbesola, the current Minister of Interior, who likes to be called Ogbeni.

You may remember him as the guy that announces the public holidays you love so much.

Aregbesola's achievement as Interior Minister has been declaring public holidays. Bandits walking freely into the country and causing mayhem but Ogbeni is waiting to announce the next public holiday.

Goodness Adaoyiche(@Deadlinechic) November 26, 2021

Ogbeni served as Lagos Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure under Tinubu’s administration before he was drafted to take over as governor in Osun.

Cousin Oyetola was, at the time, handpicked by you-know-who to serve as Ogbeni’s Chief of Staff for his two terms as governor until it was his own time to take over the top seat in 2018.

Ogbeni publicly backed Oyetola’s run to replace him, but it was no secret that it wasn’t his decision.

Jagaban was pulling the strings from miles away.

Back to the present
Having a godfather in Nigerian politics, especially one of Jagaban’s status, can be one hell of a boost.

The only problem is you’re a dog on a leash, and acting out of line isn’t in the master plan. Ask Akinwunmi Ambode.

Never to be forgotten for making waist trainers great again.

Ogbeni’s second-hand godfather role in getting Oyetola elected didn’t do much to create any meaningful bond between both of them.

The current governor took over the Government House and started moving furniture around.

Ogbeni’s signature policies, like his unpopular unification of school uniforms, were thrown in the bin.

Cousin Oyetola basically called his predecessor a terrible decorator who was drunk on the job and blew the paint budget on shawarma.

But also, what was this seriously about?

Captain Jagaban: Civil War
Tinubu’s name started ringing out in Osun again just days before the APC’s primary election to decide the flagbearer for the July 16, 2022 governorship election.

In a gathering last week with supporters of his faction, The Osun Progressives (TOP), Ogbeni openly called Jagaban a hypocrite.

His argument was simple. Oyetola made a mockery of his legacy and has done nothing to deserve a second term. If Jagaban could engineer the death of Ambode’s second term in Lagos for the same reason, why won’t he do it to Oyetola?

We suspect it’s the blood ties doing the magic here, but we cannot claim to know the Jagaban’s motivations.

This rally was so chaotic that someone with a mic loudly mocked Jagaban for reportedly peeing himself in public.

Who won?
Ogbeni can no longer run for the governor’s seat, so he threw his support behind Moshood Adeoti who is believed to have been his choice four years ago.

But when the APC elected its flagbearer on February 19, 2022, not a lot of people were surprised that Oyetola won.

It is a defeat that Ogbeni is not taking too graciously, and has hinted will be contested in court.

Jagaban vs Ogbeni
Ogbeni’s very public attack on Jagaban may have been shocking, but it did not come as a surprise.

The former Osun governor has been trying to escape Tinubu’s shadow and spread his own godfather wings.

His Lagos wings were clipped when Tinubu the APC leadership there disbanded his Mandate Group, which was originally founded by Tinubu, in 2020.

Jagaban’s tight leash on Lagos politics has come under question many times, and trying to stretch his influence to other states like Osun has not always enjoyed public favour.

But the man needs to strengthen all of his influence everywhere now that he wants to be president in 2023. He needs all of his men singing as part of the choir, not trying to do solos with him.

Ogbeni’s Osun loss is no doubt a setback for his own rumoured interest in the same presidential seat in 2023.

If he ever hopes to claim that top position, he would have to go through the Jagaban he no longer considers a god.

Until that future battle, Jagaban (2) – (0) Ogbeni.

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Romance / She Used Food And Netflix To Get Into My Heart by BigCabal: 1:21pm On Feb 17
Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.

Cynthia*, 30, and Ezinne*, 29, have been dating for six months. Today on Love Life, they talk about getting in touch after reading each other’s stories on Zikoko and falling for each other despite being married.

What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Ezinne: I read her story on Zikoko and reached out because it was similar to mine — also published on Zikoko. I thought the woman in the story and I were living the same life. She was queer like me, married, had a kid and also felt unsatisfied with her life. I did some digging — reached out to Zikoko — and got her contact with her permission.

Cynthia: When Ezinne messaged me on Twitter, I liked that she sounded friendly. Texting flowed. She sent me her pictures and I thought she was a fine babe. I sent her my picture too, and we just kept texting.

What did you two talk about?
Ezinne: Random stuff mostly, but the conversations were deep. We talked about how much we love our jobs. I told her about planning for school. We both knew we were married, but we didn’t talk about that…

The week we started chatting, I was in Surulere to meet up with a friend, and remembered she worked in the area. I texted Cynthia my location and asked if I could buy her lunch. She didn’t have to meet me — I could send it to her office.

Did you want lunch, Cynthia?
Cynthia: I did, but only if I got to see her. I left my office after a few minutes to meet her at the restaurant. I walked into the restaurant, and there she was. She had the goofiest face I had ever seen. I thought, “WTF have I gotten myself into?”

Ezinne: LOL. In my defence, I made a goofy face because I saw her before she saw me, and I could see that she was quite uneasy.

Cynthia: I wasn’t uneasy; I was just looking for you. I don’t like waiting for people.

Ezinne: Okay, I was trying to make you comfortable by making you laugh.

That’s nice. Tell us about the date.
Cynthia: It went well. We vibed. We made each other laugh a lot. Lunch became early dinner because of gist.

Ezinne: I could have stayed there for the whole night listening to her talk about her childhood. I love that she got comfortable with me and that made it very sweet.

Cynthia:
At the end of the date, she took me home.

And feelings got caught in 3, 2, 1…
Cynthia: LOL. Calm down. We talked about hanging out again. A few days later, she took me to the supermarket after work to get groceries and dropped me at home afterwards. When we got to my house, I told her I had fun, and she said she’d like to see me again. I leaned in for a hug, but this woman gave me a fist bump.

Ezinne: LOL. I was nervous. What I really wanted to do was peck her on the cheek. When I got home that night, I told her that her eyes were big enough for someone to get lost in.

Cynthia: That compliment made me blush. That’s when I knew I had fallen for her.

Ezinne, was that the plan all along?
Ezinne: Not really. I was still getting to know her. For a month we were just chatting each other up. Then I fell sick.

Cynthia: That illness sped things up. I went to see her, we watched Netflix and ate ofe nsala with pounded yam. That was my first time trying ofe nsala, and damn, Igbo people are enjoying.

Ezinne: LOL. She was really nice during that period. She called often to make sure I was okay. When I got better, I resigned from my job. The day after my resignation, she asked what I was doing and I said nothing, she could come to fill me up. She laughed and agreed to come over, so I sent an Uber to pick her up.

Smooth…
Cynthia: When it was time for me to leave that day, she pulled me into a kiss.

Ezinne: You kissed me back…

Cynthia: Ehn. But the koko is you started it. After the kiss, our conversations became more flirty. She invited me over again. This time, she gave me turkey and spaghetti while we watched movies. This woman was using food and Netflix to get into my heart.

Another time, we were watching movies at her house when NEPA took the light. In the dark, while we were waiting for the light to come on, she reached for my face and we started making out. It was hot as Bleep.

Ezinne: I had told her before then that I don’t let people touch me during sex. She told me it wasn’t going to work for her. That day, on the floor, as she touched me, I realised I liked it a lot. The sex was crazy good.

I don’t know if I should ask about your partners at this point.
Ezinne: My husband was at work and my kid was at school.

Cynthia: Same as mine.

Cool. What happened after the sex?
Cynthia: We became even closer. We started calling each other more. That was a bit difficult at first because I didn’t have earphones, and there were always too many people around me. She said she was gonna get me AirPods to help with that. I was like, “Hell no, I’m not letting you get me something that expensive.” This babe kept shut, then one day she asked me to meet her at the mall. Guess what she was holding when I got there?

Ezinne, there are enemies around me please.

Ezinne: LMAO. I just wanted to be able to talk to her the way I wanted.

Cynthia: She wanted to flirt. She’s worse than me when it comes to flirting. We were doing movies and ofe nsala, and she was flirting with other women on the timeline.

Ezinne?
Ezinne: LOL, I asked her to date me and she said no oh.

Cynthia: I said I wanted to see how things go because whenever I put a label on anything, it turns sour.

Ezinne: And I understood that. I blame my hair oh. A few days after we talked about this, I cut my hair. I look extra hot to women every time I cut my hair, so I was basking in the attention. That’s the flirting she’s talking about. I talked to a few women, but it was nothing. I wanted to be with Cynthia. When she told me she was ready to be exclusive, I was really happy.

What got you ready, Cynthia?
Cynthia: I felt it.

Before I met Ezinne, I had just broken up with my ex for being single. I gradually felt pressured she would want more than I could offer. I told myself I wasn’t going to date again after that, but Ezinne was different — she was married like me. She understands the dynamics of being married and being with a woman. When I have family time, she understands, and so do I when she has to attend to her family. We both understand our responsibilities as partners to each other and to other people. It’s easier like this.

Ezinne: Yup. There’s a safety net being married gives us. I think the fact that she is also a married woman helped our relationship grow. We both understand the risks involved.

Okay. How has the relationship been so far?
Ezinne: It’s been great. She’s very supportive of me and my endeavours. Whenever I do something at work, she always hypes me up and I love that. We’re alike in many aspects. For example, we both procrastinate on tasks until the last minute.

Cynthia: Yup, but we’re also different in many ways. For example, if I want to open a bar of soap, I’d take my time to open the pack but this babe will just rip the whole thing apart like a hoodlum.

LOL, this sounds like a live-in couple problem. Do you two live together?
Cynthia: Not really. She visits often and whenever she does, she sleeps over.

Once again, your husbands?

Ezinne: LOL. My husband knows her as one of my best friends, and honestly, what I have with my husband is different from what I have with Cynthia. With Cynthia, my feelings are deeper, more tangible. I feel like I can touch what I feel. I guess this is what makes everything else great with her.

Cynthia: I know right. My feelings for Ezinne don’t interfere with the relationship I have with my husband.

Do you think they are suspicious about your relationship?
Cynthia: I don’t think so. Everybody knows her as my best friend — husband, friends, even my mum. My kid still sleeps with me and my husband. Whenever she’s around, she stays in the guest room. We only have sex when it’s just us in the house. My husband doesn’t come home early because of work so we have enough time.

What of yours, Ezinne?
Ezinne: I don’t think he suspects anything either. He is always at work when she comes over. Whenever she’s around, we’d Bleep all over the house — my living room, my bedroom, my store. LOL.

Store?

Ezinne: Yes oh, it’s crazy how good the sex is. The way I have sex has changed with her. In my previous sexual relationships, I was always the dominant partner in bed — the one who did most of the work during sex, but with Cynthia, that dynamic changed.

Cynthia: LOL, it was a goal I set. I wanted to please you too — make you cum as much as you make me cum. It started with you letting me touch you one day. Next thing, I had you standing with one leg on my shoulder, cumming.

Ezinne: You are so wild.

Cynthia: LOL. After that day, I knew I had you.

Interesting, so do you two fight?
Cynthia: Not really, but the thing is she’s a flirt — worse than I am. But she’s refused to accept that side of her. When I asked to be exclusive, it was because I saw the way she was flirting with other women. But even after we became exclusive, she continued to flirt with other women.

Did something in particular happen?
Ezinne: There’s this babe that likes me. I told her I was in a relationship, but she no gree. One day, I had to sleep at her place because of traffic. That night, she tried to initiate something, but I shut it down.

Cynthia: But you were still cuddling with her. She now even sent me a picture of the girl’s leg on her body.

Ezinne: I wanted you to know that there was nothing going on.

Hmm, so how did you two resolve it?
Cynthia: I had to ask to open the relationship, so if anything happens with any of the women who like her, she won’t feel guilty or have to turn them down because of me. I didn’t want to grow too suspicious of her. I think things are better this way.

Ezinne, what do you have to say about this?
Ezinne: The thing I don’t notice when I’m flirting with women because that’s how I talk generally. That night she’s talking about was not planned. I didn’t think anything would happen. When I turned the girl down and she held me, I thought it was okay because I was soothing her. I sent a picture to Cynthia because I tell her everything happening in my life.

Cynthia: I was offended, wondering why you weren’t removing yourself from the situation by leaving the bed or something. It felt like you were encouraging her to try again, and it’s not even fair on the girl.

So now that the relationship is open, what’s it like?
Cynthia: I think our relationship is better now. I am no longer suspicious of her and the thing is that we are both not looking to be with other people right now anyway.

Ezinne: Yes, the goal is to build trust between each other. We want to get to a point where we would be open to things like threesomes without destroying our relationship. I love Cynthia and I know I bleeped up, so I am willing to do anything to make things work between us.

What’s the best part of the relationship?
Ezinne: She’s my healer. She helped me discover issues about myself I didn’t know I had. For example, the sex thing. I was a bit repressed before her. She taught me to let go.

I love that I can absolutely be myself with her. I love playing with knives and she lets me do that with her. I also don’t have to tone down my driving for her — I can drive as reckless as I want when I’m with her.

Cynthia: It’s the same for me too. I don’t ever feel like I need to hide anything from her. I’m not the easiest person to be around because I like things done a certain way at all times. I don’t like people touching my stuff and sometimes I feel guilty for being like that but Ezinne always lets me know that it’s ok to be myself. She encourages me to express myself the way I want to around her. I love how honest and open our relationship is.

What’s your favourite part of each other?
Ezinne: I love her eyes so much and she’s also very romantic. I love the way she talks and how she laughs. She can make a joke out of anything and I love that about her.

Cynthia: I love that you’re very smart. Every time you have an idea, in my head, I’m like, “How does this babe come up with this stuff?” There’s also a part of her mind that’s like a toddler, so she does cute things like miss her way around the house. It makes me laugh all the time.

Sweet. Do you have future plans for each other?
Ezinne: Honestly, I want to have a baby with her. I would like to see what a baby we make would look like. If they would have her eyes or her smile.

Cynthia: My personal plan is to japa with her. I don’t know how it’s going to happen; whether we’d run away from our husbands or they agree to send us abroad. I just know we have to leave this country to a place where we don’t have to hide to love each other.

Aww, fingers crossed. Rate your relationship on a scale of 1-10.
Ezinne: I’d say a 7 because there’s always room for improvement.

Cynthia: 8 for me, for the same reason. Aside from that, this is honestly the best relationship I’ve ever been in.

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Nairaland / General / Narcos Nigeria: The Curious Case Of Abba Kyari by BigCabal: 3:13pm On Feb 16
Imagine that life is a movie and your name is Abba Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police.

The day is June 11, 2020, and you are in the green chamber of the House of Representatives, the centre of all attention.

Elected lawmakers are calling you the toast of the Police Force and the best thing since soft agege bread.

This scene would likely happen at the end of a celebrated career that has put many bad guys behind bars.

The credits would roll and our supercop would live happily ever after.

But things are falling apart for DCP Abba Kyari since he made that appearance at the National Assembly.

One year after his red carpet ceremony, he was exposed as a collaborator in an internet fraud case involving convicted international fraudster, Hushpuppi.

To clear his name, he first claimed he was a middleman tailor for Hushpuppi, and then claimed he was conned by him to make an illegal arrest.

Unfortunately for him, it was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from across seven seas that had all the dirt so the allegation was hard to shake.

Since this is Nigeria, it has been seven months and authorities have failed to make any meaningful progress in investigating and confirming the case against him.

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging” is usually a commonsense approach for most people, but Abba Kyari is not most people.

What is a suspension?
When you are on suspension from work, it would usually mean that you are, well, suspended, but we now know that Abba Kyari does not like to be idle.

Nigeria’s most infamous supercop turned a moment of forced rest into an opportunity to try his hand at other things. Who doesn’t like multiple streams of income?

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) namedropped Kyari at a media briefing on Monday, February 14, 2022, as a principal suspect in a major drug trafficking case.

He was already replaced as the head of the elite Intelligence Response Unit (IRT) last year, but our supercop is not a man to be stopped by protocols.

From what we have now been told by the NDLEA and the Police, Kyari was instrumental in a drug bust in Enugu state.

While that would be commended under different circumstances, it is the point where Abba Kyari’s story takes another wild twist.

Narcos: Nigeria
Coming soon to a Netflix near you.

Allow us to break it down for you:
On January 21, 2022, Kyari called an NDLEA officer in Abuja to tell him his IRT team had arrested suspects who were smuggling 25 kg of cocaine into Enugu from Ethiopia.

Our anti-hero proposed that his team and his informants be allowed to take 15 kg to resell and replace with dummy powder.

To sweeten the deal, he offered to help his NDLEA contact sell 5 kg of the remaining 10 kg, leaving only 5 kg to be tested and used to prosecute the suspects.

At this point, we just have to assume this guy was out of bleeps to give about getting caught, or it was just another regular deal to him.

Four days after initial contact, he was caught on camera passing $61,400 to the NDLEA officer for his cooperation.

Kyari had since then been airing the NDLEA’s messages after they told him to come and face the consequences of his bad decisions.

We have questions
The very obvious red flag in this whole story, of course, is how Kyari still held such a commanding position that he was able to call the shots on a drug bust.

He wasn’t only suspended from the Force, he had already been immediately replaced as the head of the IRT.

This incident speaks to the institutional rot that fueled 2020’s historic EndSARS protests against police brutality and impunity.

Even worse is that Kyari’s IRT had been accused of many extra-judicial actions before his internet fraud case finally drowned him last year.

The failure of authorities to reach any serious conclusions on his pending case reflects poorly on the government’s claims of reforming the Police.

Police vs NDLEA
Clearly unsettled about being exposed as having rogue agents, the Police Force has also released its own version of events.

The long version is the two drug traffickers arrested in Enugu have apparently confessed they were being helped by NDLEA agents.

Their contacts had been helping them operate unhindered at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport since 2021.

This explains how they were able to successfully clear the drugs before Kyari’s team picked them up outside.

The one good thing that has come out of this whole episode is that Abba Kyari is now in custody, arrested by the police and handed over to the NDLEA alongside four other officers.

If this was a movie, we know for certain this is not the end.

We should be expecting a sequel of our supercop’s adventures in detention and maybe beyond.

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Business / Inside Bolt’s Plans For Africa After Raising Mega Funding by BigCabal: 1:43pm On Feb 11
In January, Bolt, one of the biggest ride-hailing startups in the world, closed a $711 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity and saw its valuation go up from $4.8 billion to about $8.4 billion.

The company said the new funds will be used to further improve its full suite of mobility and delivery products, and expand into new cities in Europe and Africa.

To understand Bolt’s overarching plans for Africa, its second-largest market after Europe, TechCabal spoke with its Africa Regional Director, Paddy Partridge.

Even though the company has added 2 new verticals—shared cars and scooters, and quick commerce called Bolt Market—to its product line, ride-hailing and food delivery services are the only products available in Africa. Rather than launch all its verticals in African cities, the company wants to continue ramping up more users for its ride-hailing and food delivery products—at least for this year, as it introduces them to more African cities.

Expansion while meeting demands
According to Partridge, the company is doubling down on its expansion plan in the North Africa region, as it currently only operates in Tunisia. Partridge also mentioned that more West African cities have been earmarked for expansion. However, expansion means more demands, and the company, like other players in the sector, is currently struggling to meet up.

Today, the company boasts of over 40 million customers—that’s about 40% of its total users base—and over 700,000 drivers in about 90 cities across 8 countries on the continent. A rough calculation puts the driver-to-rider ratio at 1:570. This is reported to be the reason for the occasional surge in trip prices, like the one observed in December last year. Prices had to be increased to attract more drivers to sign up and fill up the order.

Going forward, more drivers will be onboarded, so a surge in price wouldn’t be the solution to meeting high demand. But the problem here is the lack of access to vehicles: thousands of drivers are willing to get on Bolt but don’t own or have access to a vehicle to work with.

“This is a major challenge, and to solve it, we’re now doing several partnerships on the vehicle financing side,” Partridge told TechCabal.

The company, which has a standing partnership with Nigeria’s Sterling bank, has added Nigeria’s MAX.ng, a logistics and vehicular asset financing startup, to the list of partners to provide financing for 10,000 affordable vehicles to their drivers. The company is also in partnership with FlexClub, a vehicle financing marketplace, to serve its drivers in South Africa.

“Hopefully, it’ll mean less surging, which I know is a challenge in the Nigerian market. And it’ll mean that we can keep up with the growing demand,” Partridge said.

Transitioning to electronic mobility
Electric mobility is the new trend, and every environment-conscious company is embracing the development. In Europe, Bolt says its fleets are filled with electric vehicles (EVs) and, as a result, all trips are carbon-neutral. Bolt’s Green Plan is created to reduce its global ecological footprint. It says its e-scooters are all charged with 100% green energy and made from 100% recyclable materials. The company has begun to replicate that in Africa and is also planning to optimise for green this year.

“Last year, we introduced the green category in Nairobi. We also rolled out EVs for ride-hailing and food delivery in several markets. This year, we really want to start accelerating that,” said Partridge. “This is important for two reasons: it is better for the environment and more profitable to drivers, particularly as fuel prices go up so rapidly.”

As sweet as this development sounds, Partridge, unsurprisingly, said there is currently no plan to implement EVs in Nigeria. It’s actually a no-brainer because Nigeria hasn’t done a lot in the EV sector; there is no infrastructure to support EVs and, compared to other markets, they are not a wise economic option. This means MAX.ng, Bolt’s financing partner, won’t be extending EVs in its home country like it has done in other markets it operates in—such as Egypt. “The main focus areas at this stage are really Kenya and South Africa.”

Extensive driver education and verification
Six years ago in 2016—about 3 years after it was founded in Estonia—Bolt made its first foray into Africa when it launched in South Africa. It quickly expanded into Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria, and within 4 years, displaced Uber, its biggest competitor, to become the biggest ride-hailing platform in Africa.

But with huge growth comes equal responsibilities and challenges. Bolt’s success in Africa came with a price. The startup has gone through an odd collection of good, bad, and ugly reviews from its African customers. Riders have reported being harassed by Bolt’s drivers. For instance, during Nigeria’s #ENDSARs protests, some Nigerians took to social media to complain and rant about how Bolt’s drivers were delivering young people to the police. And this is one of many unpleasant experiences with the service.

To solve the problem, Partridge said the company is investing in building a more efficient verification system that will weed out bad players and shoot up the security rating of the platform. Though the process varies from market to market, depending on regulatory requirements, Bolt currently onboards drivers by checking identification and running criminal background checks.

The issue of onboarding only qualified well-behaved drivers on the platform may be a hard nut to crack because, when Bolt newly entered the African market, it was reported that the platform relaxed its entry requirement to snag market share from Uber—a strategy that worked at the time but continues to haunt and hurt the brand today.

“So, we have a new sort of quality management system that basically tracks different metrics and gives drivers more actionable feedback on how to improve their behavior on the platform,” Partridge said. He also mentioned that Bolt is improving on their driver education programme, both online and offline.

A safe space for women
It’s said that women feel safer with other women than with men. This means that Bolt must onboard more female drivers. According to the African director, Bolt is looking to bring more women drivers onto the platform.

“At the moment, across Africa, women make up a very small share of our driver base. But we see quite a big opportunity to get more of them into ride-hailing. And in South Africa and Kenya, we’ve now launched women-only categories.”

The women-only category is a feature that allows women to choose their rider to be a woman. “This is basically a way to give women a bit more trust on the platform, where they can choose if they want to pair with a woman rider.” Similarly, women drivers, if they want to be paired with a woman rider, can choose that.

One could have sworn that the women’s category would be rolled out in Nigeria immediately, given the many complaints from Nigerian women about harassment from male Bolt drivers. But that hasn’t happened because, according to Patridge, South Africa and Kenya have the highest share of female drivers—which is an essential metric in rolling out the feature.

“It was most feasible to get the category off the ground in South Africa. We wanted to test what kind of traction the category could get, and South Africa is the most suitable pilot test. For us to provide women riders with a category that makes sense, we need to have a certain volume of female drivers in the first place.”

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Nairaland / General / Re: These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:25pm On Feb 11
6. The urge to beat other people’s children
This urge definitely comes from an unscrewed nut in people’s brains. No human being with a fully functioning brain is going to see a child that’s not their’s and beat them up. We know things are hard, but it should not affect you to the point of beating other people’s children. Hian.

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Nairaland / General / Re: These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:17pm On Feb 11
5. The urge to give applause when aeroplanes land
I mean, I get why it feels like a relief, but it’s strange nonetheless. Was the plane supposed to stay in the air, why you dey clap?

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Nairaland / General / Re: These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:13pm On Feb 11
4. The super Nigerian urge to lie about leaving the country
Yes, we know what you guys are going to say, but is anyone going to beat you if you say you’re travelling? Or are your village people going to stop the plane from moving? Nigerians don’t tell anyone they’re leaving the country; one day you just wake up and see Sola Sobowale’s picture in their tweet. Welcome to a new dispensation ko

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Nairaland / General / Re: These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:11pm On Feb 11
3. The urge to womb watch
Maybe you should go and give birth for the woman whose womb you’re watching since you’re so worried about her fertility. Womb watching? Kill it with fire!

Source

Nairaland / General / Re: These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:07pm On Feb 11
2. The urge to start shouting very early in the morning
It’s not like we’re trying to tell Nigerian mothers anything o, but is it possible for them to start the day a little later than 6 am? The Nigerian urge to start shouting very early in the morning is so common, it’s been normalised. We hope the GenZs fix that.

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Nairaland / General / These Super Normal Nigerian Urges Need To Die by BigCabal: 1:05pm On Feb 11
Nigerians are a very versatile group of people, and part of our versatility reflects in the sudden urge to do things we’ve considered normal. Many of these urges aren’t natural and need to die by thunder or fire.

1. The urge to be the upstairs neighbour who pounds yam in their kitchen
Who wakes up and feels it’s alright to pick up a mortar and pestle to start pounding yam or whatever they feel like eating when they know they have neighbours who live downstairs? Get a food processor or take that mortar to the ground floor if you must eat. Smh.

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