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Kenyan digital lending app, Zenka, writes off Sh166 million defaulted loans

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Kenyan digital lending app, Zenka, has written off a Sh166 million ($13.8m) defaulted loans a week after a memo by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) directed digital lenders to work with loan defaulters in helping them repair their credit scores.

The CBK had last week directed banks, microfinance and mortgage finance companies to write off at least Ksh.15 billion worth of digital loans, so as to help defaulters regain a favourable borrowing status.

The beneficiaries of the loan grace, according to Zenka Country Manager, Duncun Motanya in a statement on Thursday, are borrowers with non-performing loans whose lives were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a socially responsible lender, we routinely and thoroughly analyze prevailing market situations and act proactively and pre-emptively to contribute to the country’s economic recovery by helping our customers regain their financial balance and grow,” said Motanya.

According to the lender, the partial loan write-off is among the company’s “to the shifting approach by the current government, which is bent on having more Kenyans access credit facilities as a way of expanding income capabilities.”

The company added that other measures such as an extended grace period for customers struggling to repay their loans will follow have been introduced.

“Meticulous creditworthiness assessment combined with smart financial products and flexible repayment options enabled us to open up new possibilities to millions of Kenyans and motivate them to work harder and think smarter,” Motanya added.

He said the company has also encouraged customers struggling to repay their loans to contact the lender to work out a friendly payment plan.

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Tanzanian retail-tech startup, Ramani, secures $32m funding

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Tanzania’s retail-tech startup, Ramani, has successfully secured $32 million Serie A funding to enable it push forward in building its cloud network of micro-distribution centres across Africa, the company’s cofounder, Iain Usiri, said on Saturday.

Founded in 2019 by Usiri, Calvin Usiri and Kibet Martin, “Ramani’s focus is on fixing fragmented consumer goods supply chains that traditionally suffer from lack of data visibility and are burdened by limited access to financial services,” the company profile reads.

“To address these challenges, Ramani provides tech-enabled inventory management systems, procurement, and point of sale software to digitise the processes of micro-distribution centres (MDCs), helping them gain real-time sales insights and inventory visibility.

“Ramani is then also able to leverage this data to offer up inventory with delayed payment terms, enabling them to scale,” it said.

Early this year, the company acquired a lending license from the Central Bank of Tanzania to scale their customers further, and with the new seed funding, is expected to expand its offering beyond the eastern African country.

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MTN launches 5G network in Zambia

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Pan-African mobile operator, MTN, has officially launched its 5G network in Zambia, after beginning a test run in January, making the country the third in Africa after previous launches South Africa in June 2020 and in Nigeria in September 2022.

The 5G services which will run commercially in six Zambian cities, according to MTN Group’s President and CEO, Ralph Mupita, will help transform businesses and livelihoods in the southern African nation.

“5G can transform business and livelihoods beyond simple connectivity, with the potential to unlock many new use cases. In Zambia, we see great opportunities across many sectors, and in the mining industry in particular,” Mupita said at the launch on Friday.

MTN Zambia CEO, Bart Hofker, said the 5G services had been activated to cover about 65% of the population in the cities of Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola, and parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila, which translates into about 15% of the overall population of the country.

“We plan to reach 100% 5G coverage in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by the middle of 2023, while gradually expanding the 5G network to other locations,” Hofker said.

MTN’s 5G is a fifth-generation mobile network technology which offers faster speeds, lower latency, better security and stability and the ability to handle high-volume connections and mobile data. It can connect virtually everything, including machines, vehicles and robots,” he added.

The launching of the network in Lusaka, the country’s capital, was witnessed by Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, along with top government ministers and representatives of the telecoms regulator and the Central Bank governor

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