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Sim Shagaya’s Edtech startup secures $3.1 million Seed Funding

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Sim Shagaya's Edtech startup secures $3.1 million Seed Funding

Nigerian edtech learning platform, uLesson, has secured a $3.1 million seed funding from TLcom Capital in order to address infrastructure and learning gaps in Africa’s education sector. This is contained in an official press release sent to Nairametrics.

The seed round announced today allows uLesson to take the product to market in West Africa, before looking to develop educational content and a product for the East African market. Targeting secondary school learners across the West African region, uLesson will launch officially in February 2020, having been in development and beta testing for 12 months.

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[READ: Konga’s former CEO, Sim Shagaya, establishes a new company ‘uLesson’]

To date, the uLesson has produced over 3,000 richly animated, personalised video learning modules, quizzes and tests that will be available on the uLesson android app, via a subscription model, in Q1 2020.

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Speaking on the investment and upcoming launch of uLesson, CEO Sim Shagaya says, “Education systems across Africa are in crisis and uLesson has been developed to radically shake-up the system and bring better access to high-quality curriculum-relevant educational content to learners across the continent. As our population grows extremely rapidly, the current public and private approach to education investment is chasing a goal that is moving further away.

We want to lower the entry point for access to education for young Africans, and technology is the only way this challenge will be met. With this in mind, today is not just an investment in uLesson – it’s an investment in Africa’s future.”

Shagaya concludes, “We work collaboratively, passionately & relentlessly, utilizing every tool available, to deliver high-quality affordable education to all Africans. Education, Financial Inclusion & Health need to be tackled on the continent. Remarkable progress in developing financial products has been made.

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Of the other two, Education represents an immediate opportunity that can be addressed with the tools provided by digital technology (smartphones, wireless internet, data storage and analytics). uLesson believes it has a model that can work in substantially addressing these challenges.”

As part of the seed round, Ido Sum and Omobola Johnson, partners in TLcom’s executive team, will join the board alongside former Konga CEO, Shola Adekoya.

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Speaking on the investment, Ido Sum adds, “In uLesson, we found a company that fits perfectly with our ethos – an entrepreneur-led startup building affordable, mass-market mobile-first solution tackling one of Africa’s largest challenges. In Sim, we have an entrepreneur with an unrivaled track record in building technology products for Africa. His team is building solutions for a massive opportunity, and we strongly believe they are about to make a serious dent in the education market across the continent.”

[READ: How Sim Shagaya revolutionalised the traditional method of commerce in Nigeria]

About ULesson 

Founded by serial entrepreneur and founder of Nigeria’s Konga, Sim Shagaya, uLesson has built the technology to deploy curriculum-relevant content via smartphones that allow learners to use the product without concern for internet limitations and costs. uLesson’s mobile offering rests on three pillars: academics, media & technology and curriculum content are delivered via streaming and SD cards.

The platform allows learners to experience personalised learning, practice tests, region-specific mock tests and assessed performance and progress for students and parents, including rich reporting dashboards for detailed analysis. Tailored towards the WAEC curriculum region (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia), uLesson’s current content focuses on core subjects of Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for secondary school students.

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Patricia

Samuel is an Analyst with over 5 years experience. Connect with him via his twitter handle

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Energy

Nigerian LNG to increase exports, returns profits despite weak gas prices 

The gas firm has been able to sell the excess supply at a discount in the spot market. 

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Nigeria will most likely increase the export of its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in August and September to the global market if the demand of the commodity goes up despite the crash in prices which is near record lows. 

However, in the meantime, the government-owned Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company has concluded plans to maintain its current supply level to the global market. This is contrary to what some other exporters like the United States and Australia seem to be doing following low prices. 

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According to a report from Bloomberg, Nigeria exported over 1.8 million tons in the month of June, which is more than last year’s monthly average of 1.7 million tons. 

Some of the country’s buyers have effected clauses in their long-term which allows them to take fewer shipments than was originally agreed. The gas firm has been able to sell the excess supply at a discount in the spot market. Over 50% of Nigeria’s exports in May were sold in Asia as against the about 30% that was sold last year. 

Natural gas exports have slowed in June as the coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected global demand. Most of the multibillion-dollar projects in natural gas export terminals have been either halted or delayed as a result of the disruptions by the pandemic. 

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The damage to the gas trade goes well beyond the Middle East as it is affecting similar businesses in Australia, which is reputed to be the world’s largest exporter of LNG and the United States. With the global exports down by 6.3% from the previous year, only a few exporting countries like Qatar and Algeria, have been able to increase output. 

The positive for Nigeria is that the production cost at its LNG facility in Bonny island is so low that it can still turn a profit despite the weak spot prices. The facility has been about the lowest costs when compared to similar projects around the world. 

Nairametrics had reported that the NLNG just signed the engineering, procurement and construction contract for its train 7 project, which is a major gas expansion plan. The project is expected to boost the country’s LNG output by more than 30%. 

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The NLNG is a consortium between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni. The project is coming at a difficult time when LNG prices in Asia and gas prices in Europe have hit a record low due to the coronavirus pandemic which has weakened demand.   

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FinTech

Just In: Opay shuts down other business arms to focus mainly on fintech

The company will now focus on its fintech business which has always been its core.

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Opay

Opay announced this afternoon that it would be shutting down some of its business units (for now) to focus only on financial technology services.

A press statement by the company, as seen by Nairametrics, primarily blamed the development on the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a recent regulation by the Lagos State Government which banned commercial motorcycles across much of the Lagos metropolitan area.

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The business units that have been put on hold by the company include all its ride-hailing platforms (ORide and OCar), as well as OExpress, its delivery business.

Opay also noted that ride-hailing companies around the world have particularly been hit hard by the pandemic which caused rippling economic effects across the world. The company said it foresaw the negative impacts of the pandemic and had already begun restructuring long before now. According to the statement by the company, this final restructuring is expected to have a very minimal impact on its business as a whole. Part of the statement said:

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“We can confirm that some of our business units including the ride-hailing services ORide, OCar as well as our logistics service OExpress will be put on pause. This is largely due to the harsh business conditions which have affected many Nigerian companies, including ours, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown, and government ban. 

READ ALSO: Uber withdraws financial forecast, reduces assets value by $2 billion

“Globally, ride-sharing businesses have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. But several months ago, foreseeing this issue, OPay had already taken pre-emptive steps to restructure our business focus away from rides. It is worthy to note that this final restructuring has minimal impact on OPay as a whole business.”

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In the meantime, Opay will focus on its fintech service, providing payment solutions to Nigerian merchants within the eCommerce space. Interestingly, while the Chinese-owned company is known by most Nigerians because of its ride-hailing services, the core of its business has always been fintech. As a matter of fact, all these other ventures that were just put on hold were established with the intention of consolidating the payments business.

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“It is important to clarify that ride-sharing had always been only one part, and not a major part of Opay’s diversified business in Nigeria, I fact, Opay had been investing more and seeing accelerated growth in its commitment to Nigeria’s financial and technology inclusion,” the company explained.

As a full-fledged fintech firm and already a major player in the space, Opay will now continue to compete with the likes of Paga, Paystack, and even Flutterwave.

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Hospitality & Travel

Nigerians willing to travel abroad will wait a bit longer – Aviation Ministry

Domestic flights between Lagos and Abuja will resume on Wednesday July 8. 

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Airlines want more women stakeholders in aviation sectors , Ministry of Health approves COVID-19 protocols for aviation sector, as airports prepare to resume, Nigerians willing to travel abroad will wait a bit longer- Aviation Ministry

The Federal Ministry of Aviation announced on Wednesday evening that flights will commence with the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos on the 8th of July. The Ministry also announced date will be decided for international travel.

Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airport will reopen on the 11th of July, while the other airports in the country are set to restart operations on the 15th of July.’

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‘Passengers looking to travel out of the country will have to wait a bit longer as the dates for the restart of international flights into and out of the country will be announced later,’’ The Ministry said.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika thanked the Nigerian public and stakeholders in the aviation industry “who have had to cope with the adverse effects of the flight suspension” for their cooperation in ensuring the country resumes operations in the airports.

READ MORE: FG acquires profiling robots for airport

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Nigeria banned International flights into the country on March 21, after the country’s coronavirus cases doubled from 12-22. The airport closure was meant to last one month but as cases grew globally, the date of resumption got postponed. Domestic flights between Lagos and Abuja will resume on Wednesday, July 8.

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