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Kenyan bitcoin startup, Gridless, secures $2m seed funding for expansion

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Kenyan bitcoin mining startup, Gridless, has successfully secured a $2 million seed funding to support its plans to expand its bitcoin mines beyond East Africa to the rest of the continent.

Making the announcement on Saturday in a statement, the Chief Executive Officer of Gridless, Erik Hersman, said the company’s aim is to “serve as the anchor tenant, financing the construction and managing the operation of data centres in rural communities where traditional industrial or commercial customers are not available.”

Founded in early 2022 by a team comprising of Hersman and a couple of “veterans of the connectivity, infrastructure and software space in East Africa,” Gridless designs, builds, and operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in rural Africa where excess energy is not utilised.

Gridless’s aim is to serve the needs of energy producers in Africa as they seek to electrify the continent and create more affordable power for people in rural communities,” the CEO said.

“Africa needs affordable electricity. Our work in supporting renewable energy mini grid developers fills a gap, helping developers expand faster, be more sustainable, and serve thousands of households.

“This investment, and the high calibre of partners that are coming alongside us, means that we can accelerate our rollout knowing that we have both the capital and strategic support required,” he added.

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Airtel Africa declares $523 million nine-month net profit

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One of Africa’s biggest mobile network operators, Airtel Africa, had declared a profit of $523 million over a nine months period ending December 31, 2022.

The profit margin, according to a financial report released by the company, showed a 12.1% increase from $514 million during the same period the previous year.

The report further stated that the company’s mobile services revenue in Nigeria grew by 20.9 percent, while East African revenue increased by 11.9 percent, just as 11.8 percent was recorded in Francophone Africa.

Revenue from voice services from its African operations increased by 12.7% while data recorded a revenue rise of 22.3%.

The company’s mobile money service recorded a 29.8% growth, largely attributed to a 32.5% growth in East Africa and 21.7% in the Francophone Africa market.

The financial report released by the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya, also said company’s total customer base increased to $138.5 million, up by 10.1 per cent, with the company saying it spent $490 million over the last nine months on its 4G and 5G spectrum across key markets to improve quality.

“The company’s total customer base increased by 10.1% to hit 138.5 million as the penetration of mobile data and mobile money services continued to rise, driving the data customer base up 13.6 percent and mobile money customer base up 22.2 percent,” the report said.

“Providing affordable, innovative, and essential services to customers in our 14 markets with unparalleled network quality and customer service is integral to our ambition of transforming lives across Africa.”

“Over the last nine months we have spent almost $490 million on 4G and 5G spectrum across key markets to improve network capacity and quality, future-proof the company for continued growth opportunities, and facilitate economic progress in all our markets,” Ogunsanya said.

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Kenyan judge rules Meta can be sued in local courts for rights violations

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A Labour Court in Kenya has ruled that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, can be sued in the East African country, following a suit filed by a former Facebook moderator, Daniel Motaung, claiming poor working conditions.

Meta had, in a counter suit, tried to have the case dropped, with the argument that Kenyan courts do not have jurisdiction over their operations.

The social media company had argued that while it has operations in Kenya, it’s a foreign company and its contracts with Sama don’t make it susceptible to Kenyan laws.

But while delivering judgement on the case on Monday, the Labour Court judge, Justice Jacob Gakeri, dismissed its appeal and insisted that Kenyan courts can rule on the case.

In the originating suit, Motaung, a South African national, had alleged that Meta and its local outsourcing partner, Sama, had exposed him and his colleagues to “toxic” work conditions while they were contracted to work as content moderators.

Matuong had claimed that he was subjected to “forced labor, exploitation, human trafficking, unfair labor relations, union busting, and failure to provide adequate mental health and psychosocial support” by Facebook and its parent company.

In his ruling, Justice Gakeri said:

“The second and third respondents’ names, Meta Platforms Inc and Meta platforms Ireland Ltd, shall not be struck out at this stage.”

The case between Motaung and Meta is due for further determination in early March.

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