Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [24/03/2020]

With the coronavirus (Covid-19) headlining news all over the world, Ventureburn has launched the first edition of a daily roundup on the virus and how it is affecting Africa’s tech startup sector.

Last night South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured above) announced the imposition of a 21-day national lockdown which would begin at midnight this Thursday (26 March).

It follows a lockdown that came into force in Tunisia on Sunday in a bid to halt the spread of the virus there.

Ramaphosa last night announced a national 21-day lockdown

Here then is the latest news:

Lockdown: Ramaphosa last night announced a national 21-day lockdown. All shops and businesses are to be closed, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, petrol stations and health-care providers, he said. Companies essential for production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. Provision will be made for transport services to continue for essential workers.

Bank measures: A number of SA banks have announced measures to ease the plight of their customers, including small businesses. These include Nedbank, Standard Bank and FNB.

Solidarity fund: During the announcement last night of a national 21-day lockdown, Rampahosa said his government had set up a “solidarity fund”, which SA businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to. “The fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted,” he said.

Online deliveries, appointments rocket: SA ecommerce startups that retail and deliver items such as groceries and alcohol, have seen online orders hit the roof, following the onset of the coronavirus (see this story). This, as medical bookings platform Recomed reported on Sunday (22 March) that last week was its highest volume week on record (see this story). SA investment company Silvertree Holdings said is pressing suppliers to keep providing its stable of ecommerce startups with stock, amid a surge in ecommerce orders in the last two weeks following the onset of the virus (see this story).

Google Loon in Kenya: The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has approved Google Loon Services to enable universal 4G data coverage in the country, tech publication TechMoran reported in an article yesterday. It said the service would assist the increasing number of people who are working from home because of the virus.

Startup in Covid-19 pivot: Tunisian bike-taxi startup IntiGo has temporarily pivoted to offer different types of delivery services to users because of coronavirus, tech publication MenaBytes reported in an article on Sunday (22 March). Last month the startup, founded last year by Bassem Bouguerra and Nebil Jridet, raised over $300 000 from investors (see this story). Tunisia announced last Friday (20 March) that a countrywide lockdown will come into effect from 22 March.

Jumia adopts measures: African e-commerce company Jumia announced last Friday (20 March) that it is adapting its online retail network to curb the spread of Covid-19. US tech publication TechCrunch revealed in an article yesterday that the tech company will donate face masks to health ministries in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria and Uganda. Jumia has also offered African governments use of of its delivery network to help distribute of supplies to healthcare facilities and workers. Jumia will also reduce fees on its JumiaPay finance product.

*Those with any news releases relating to Covid-19 and Africa’s tech startup sector can send these to 

Featured image: SA president Cyril Ramaphosa (GovernmentZA via Flickr CC 2.0 BY-ND)



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