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.
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:
“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.
“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.”
A Statement From OPay. pic.twitter.com/mjvsKle6yH
— OPay (@OPay_NG) July 2, 2020
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.
Does the Nigerian educational system need support from tech companies?
The Educational system should welcome help because in the end, students bear the brunt of our shortcomings.
Reportedly, Facebook has identified a new era of opportunity to further spread its tentacles in the world’s second largest internet market – India. Few weeks back, the social media giant announced that it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The goal is to prepare secondary school students for current and emerging jobs and help them develop viable skills. This will be divided in various phases according to Facebook.
- More than 10,000 teachers will be trained.
- These teachers will coach 30,000 students.
Reportedly, the CBSE brochure read “To further their commitment towards digital inclusion and digital empowerment, CBSE and Facebook have partnered to launch curriculum and related training in Augmented Reality, Digital Safety &Online Well-Being and introduce Instagram Toolkit for Teens,”.
Basically, with Facebook there will be an online programme for augmented reality, while with Instagram there will be a workshop on the usage time of the photo-sharing platform and how students and teacher can stay on these platforms.
Could This Be What the Nigerian Educational System Needs?
The Nigerian educational sector has its shortcomings and with this pandemic came an alarming number of students stuck at home with no way to carry on learning. Education in this country has always been big business, from elite private schools to affordable options which are barely better than public schools. In the last few years, digital innovators and entrepreneurs have launched startups like uLessons among others to try to keep educating Nigerian students. These platforms have connected tutors/teachers to learners. However, we cannot determine the true impact of these efforts seeing as the country experiences many setbacks to fully enable online learning:
- Underfunding- this is sadly a common factor that affects the advancement of education not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
- Costing- the price of smartphones and other devices as well as mobile internet creates such a gap in these parts. Thankfully, there is the pre-recorded model which may factually not be as effective as learning in real-time but does offer a cheaper option.
The past few weeks have been saturated with debates of whether or not schools are ready to reopen. The Government reportedly agreed to a partial reopening with laid out rules for if they do decide that schools across the country can safely reopen their doors to students. No doubt, the urgency is understandable especially for students in graduating classes but with the unrelenting rise in coronavirus cases, many are against this happening.
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In a hypothetical world where a tech giant like Facebook decides to partner with the Federal Ministry of Education, the benefits could be limitless:
- Providing children the digital skills to stay relevant in an evolving world.
- Personalized learning- helps children learn at the best place for them.
- Possibly boost motivation to learn- students will be more actively engaged when learning digitally.
- Improve fibre connectivity across the country.
- Promoting inclusive education- everyone is involved and active in the educating process.
- Increased learning opportunities as distance is no longer a hindering factor.
- Collaborative learning- this powers transparent and accurate communication between learners and teachers.
Whether the Nigerian educational system needs help from tech giants or not is not the main concern but still, the answer is – the system should welcome help no matter where it emanates from because in the end our students bear the brunt of our shortcomings.
Facebook rivals TikTok with launch of video-sharing product inside instagram
With the launch of Reels, the dispute between Facebook and TitTok will get worse.
Video-sharing social networking firm, Tik Tok, seems to have more competition as Facebook has rolled out its own version of the product in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
The social media platform called Reels is a feature within its popular Instagram app and it is embedded with a new short-form video service. Reels allows users to create 15-second clips, like TikTok, and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app.
The introduction of this new service, Reels, is coming at the time that TikTok is facing a lot of scrutiny in the United States and days after Tech giant, Microsoft said it was in talks to buy TikTok’s US operations from China’s ByteDance.
ByteDance, acting under pressure from the US government, has agreed to divest parts of TikTok due to threats of being banned by the Trump administration.
With the launch of Reels, the dispute between Facebook and TitTok will get worse with each of them labelling the other as a threat. The 2 social media firms are eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have been using TikTok for the past 2 years.
Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 before it subsequently moved to France, Germany and India. India was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month due to a border dispute with the Chinese government. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso, but its acceptability was quite low.
Facebook, owner of Instagram, has a poor track record of cloning popular social media apps. The company has had much better success adding popular features from rivals into Instagram and the regular Facebook app, like when it added the Stories feature based on Snapchat.
The similarities between the 2 firms have led the Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, Kevin Mayer, to refer to Facebook’s Reel as a copycat product that will make use of Instagram’s enormous existing user base after their other copycat service, Lasso, failed quickly.
The vice president of products at Instagram, Vishal Shah, acknowledged the similarities of both services in a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday, saying that inspiration for the products comes from everywhere including Facebook’s teams and the ecosystem in general.
The company said that Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take centre stage.
Instagram has no immediate plans of offering advertising or other ways for users to make money through Reels, although it recruited young online stars to test the product ahead of launch.
Facebook’s Instagram is launching Reels at a vulnerable time for its biggest competitor, TikTok. Microsoft has since emerged as the frontrunner to acquire a majority stake in TikTok’s US operations, following their divestment plans and could conclude talks within 3 weeks.
MTN seeking to sell stake in Jumia Technologies AG
MTN has been trying to dispose of its non-core assets to minimize debt and open new markets.
MTN Group is planning to sell part or all of its $243 million interest in Jumia Technologies AG. This is part of the telco’s effort to raise funds to pay down debt and enter new frontiers.
According to Bloomberg, MTN would be taking advantage of the fact that Jumia’s shares have gained about 142% so far in 2020, recovering from its record lows in 2019.
However private sources told Bloomberg News that no decision about the sale has been reached yet.
Jumia, Africa’s largest online retailer, is operational in 14 African countries including Nigeria. Jumia Technologies AG is headquartered in Germany and run by its two French founders, Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara.
At the time this report was drafted, MTN Group was trading ZAR 6,000, gaining 4.42% while Jumia AG was down 22.48% to trade at $16.28
Why this could be happening:
MTN has been trying to dispose of its non-core assets as part of the business strategy to minimize debt and open new markets.
MTN Group also has about a 29% stake in IHS Towers, which could be put for sale. MTN Group by footprint has generated about $812 million in asset sales that included selling its towers holdings in Ghana and Uganda to American Towers Inc.
Africa’s biggest carrier plans to bid for a license to enter Ethiopia, one of Africa’s largest markets that have not yet privatized its telecoms industry.