MENA’s Digital News, Week #38

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

First order of business: Farah Nakouzi has joined me to launch the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram and Whatsapp!

Some changes will come to the weekly roundup soon, but I appreciate your patience 🙌🏻

Now let’s get to it, it’s been a long week!

Investments & Acquisitions

BSynchro, Beirut based insurtech, raises $1M from Berytech & Phoenician Fund http://bit.ly/2Fug6NQ 

Hopi, D2C contact lenses startups, raises seed funding from Esanjo (the latest venture of Jadopado’s Founder) – undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2KxFXZk

Foodics, Saudi POS tech, raises $4M from Riyadh Taqnia Fund (RTF), Fatih Capital, Tech Invest Com and Naseel Holding http://bit.ly/2XJsQuF (AR) http://bit.ly/2KJDIT7 

Breadfast, Cairo-based baked goods and breakfast delivery startup, raises series A, led by 500 Startups & Egyptian angel investor, and gets accepted to YC combinator http://bit.ly/2KCM8M1

Sprii, eCommerce platform for mothers, raises $8.5M in funding from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2RwK6NO 

Noon Academy, Saudi EdTech startup, raises $8.6M co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) http://bit.ly/2KHWRVt (AR) http://bit.ly/2KH7UOu 

Elmenus, Egypt-based food delivery and discovery platform, is raising a series B with commitments currently secured from angel investors http://bit.ly/2NcMaw8

Beyond Capital, Jordan, announces investment in 5 startups under their Scout Program: Bilforon, 360Moms, Addenda, Silkroad Audio http://bit.ly/31VHaiP 

Sector News

Noon.com, re-announces free delivery on all orders. The first announcement was done last week, but was later withdrawn across channels http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB 

Tencent Games to open offices in Dubai’s Internet City http://bit.ly/2Jav1xK 

Oman’s Information Technology Authority (ITA) initiated a new accelerator in the sultanate: Sas Accelerator, powered by Google Developers Launchpad program. First cohort announced. http://bit.ly/2LcNSek

UAE Ministry of Economy approves Careem‘s acquisition by Uber http://bit.ly/2FwNJPn

Toters, Lebanon-based food delivery app, expands to Riyadh (announced via email only) 

Seedstars launched its second MENA hub in Morocco, with commitments to invest in startups through Investment Readiness Program and the Seedstars World. The first was in Cairo http://bit.ly/2Xckvjl 

Fintech

Souqalmal.com, Dubai-based insurtech startup, to expand services to Bahrain http://bit.ly/31TcwGA 

MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) was launched yesterday in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Arab Monetary Fund http://bit.ly/2WZrQhn 
Link to the MENA Fintech Association website http://bit.ly/2IDBsu8

DEX (Digital Assets Exchange) has secured in principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate a Crypto Asset Exchange http://bit.ly/2Yagqcb (this is the second digital asset platform getting initial approval this month) 

Central Bank of Egypt‘s old building in Cairo to be turned into a Fintech Campus. Announcement was made by Greek Campus and Sawari Ventures founder, Ahmed Alfi http://bit.ly/2J4TNQ1

A Public Sector Overhaul in the UAE

UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s & Dubai 10X have collaborated on a new initiative: Rahhal, providing “innovative learning pathways blending traditional education with industry qualifications”. Under this initiative GEMS schools and Siemens sign an MoU signed a collaboration to build more integration between schools and industry http://bit.ly/2RvMcOa (to note: GEMS school just expanded it’s investments in Saudi last month)

UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launches the ‘UAE National Cybersecurity Strategy’ http://bit.ly/2Xxg3Lw The strategy’s page and full length reading here http://bit.ly/2Xa8OtP (AR) http://bit.ly/2RB4rBN

Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi, announces: – New ~$1.2B R&D Fund – Energy consumption discounts to enterprises – “open data” access to gov’t collected data – shorter payment cycles for gov’t contractors, 30 days – increased number of services that can be applied for online http://bit.ly/2xdRrJ0

Further Readings

Tech/Digital

Snapchat study hows that users of the platform in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two most dominant markets in using snapchat as a messaging platform http://bit.ly/2FyBTnD 

Byblos Bank, Lebanon, launches a new Data Center, “the only Uptime Institute Tier III certified constructed facility” http://bit.ly/2WZPiej

IBM is launching two new centers in Cairo: Industry Client Center and Marketing Services Center http://bit.ly/31Pk51f

Non Tech/ Digital (Economic)

PSA Group, French Peugeot Citroen manufacturer, launches factory in Morocco http://bit.ly/2KtwGBT 

Tunisia Secures $131.7M Fund from French Development Agency to Develop Its Smart Grid Project http://bit.ly/2KvwFgE

Saudi Arabia now accepting online applications for the permanent residency program http://bit.ly/2IB2Gl4

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announces 15 MOUs and agreements with South Korean investors, around Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, Solar Energy Sector among others http://bit.ly/322huBh

Long Read

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on Economic Development in Africa 2019 http://bit.ly/2X8Kkw9


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here


MENA’s Digital News, Week #32

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

Investments & Acquisitions

Odiggo, Cairo based spare parts marketplace, raises $180k seed from angel investor http://bit.ly/2PVyUtE 

eMushrif, Oman based smart school bus solution, raises $1M from Phaze Ventures, Oman Technology Fund’s Wadi Accelerator, Sparklabs Energy, Myrad Holding, Bahrain’s Dividend Gate Capital, and angel investors http://bit.ly/2VkdD2t 

Kitab Sawti, Arabic audibook platform, raises $6M Series A from Bonnier Ventures, Paltel Group, Kaaf Investments, Northzone, and individual investors http://bit.ly/2Vgk1rv 

ArqamFC, Cairo-based sports data startup, gets acquired by UK’s StatsBomb for undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2J9SmlD

PwC Middle East acquires Teambase Consulting, UAE based Data Analytics Consulting firm http://bit.ly/2V3DxT8 

Checkout.com, global payment gateway, raises $230m in record European Series A led by Insight Partners and DST Global http://bit.ly/2H3gnbT (Checkout founder and many leaders are Dubai based, they also have a strong foothold in the city)

Sector News

Lebanon gets it’s own Fintech focused hub: StartechEUS FinHub http://bit.ly/2vGgrrm 

Google Assistant launched in Saudi Arabia, Egypt http://bit.ly/2V3Uayh (support for Arabic language was released earlier)

Wahed becomes the first globally-accessible halal robo-advisor, 130 countries http://bit.ly/2VOpmGe

SoftBank considers IPO of $100B Vision Fund https://reut.rs/2PNQkIu

Aramex signed over 1,000 Saudi nationals onto crowd-based delivery fleet http://bit.ly/2V1BqPZ

BookMyShow, Indian entertainment ticketing platform, announced 5 year strategic partnership with Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena http://bit.ly/302vJF2 

Dubai Future Foundation signed an agreement with Dubai Development Authority and TECOM Group Dubai to allow startups in AREA 2071 (DFF) to setup license through the in5 platform (by TECOM) http://bit.ly/2YiWFyJ 

Further Readings

Tristar Group, Dubai based logistics company, plans for IPO and booked Bank of America and Citigroup for the process http://bit.ly/2J4lxqe

Gulf Capital and Waha Capital hold merger talks http://bit.ly/2VnQX1h

Saudi launches “Special Residency” program “ الإقامة المميزة” which includes: extended and permanent residency visas for non-citizens in the Kingdom http://bit.ly/2YlSWQZ


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

Is Lebanon Ready for a Smart Electricity Grid?

Lebanon is a country rife with corruption, aided by immense centralization of decision making and budgets in a grid-locked parliament that operates for the benefit of it’s members personal business holdings rather than the people who elected them 

It’s 2018, 24/7 electricity is still a dream across urban and rural areas (except Zahle). The infrastructure for the electricity grid is poorly maintained, needs an overhaul and is battered with violations. And for the past 30 years an amendment to law allowed individuals to apply for a license to sell generator-produced-electricity to supplement the rationed and overwhelmed network. This was supposed to be temporary until the national electricity providers repaired and upgraded their systems. But the quick-fix has become status-quo. 

by David Brunetti https://medium.com/insecurities/permanent-temporality-shatila-refugee-camp-beirut-lebanon-2014-489a846c73eb

On the bright side, this looks like an ideal opportunity. The future is already looking at decentralization as a key driver to decrease carbon foot-print, improve efficiency, empower renewable energy production and decrease costs. Lebanon already runs on a decentralized electricity “grid”, that brings in revenue to private generator owners. The country will need a tremendous amount of investment in infrastructure anyway, so why not invest in a smart grid that allows existing suppliers to supplement a national grid and encourage more people to generate energy locally, and ideal from alternative energy sources

In the long run, this looks like the ideal plan for developed nations and our lack on investment in the past 30 years can be offset by investing in an agile system that could solve two problems at once: 

1- Decrease burden on government spending (& venues for corruption)
2- Provide more income opportunities for constituents
(3)- Create jobs, solve electricity crisis, improve GDP, etc.. 

Just a thought worth dreaming of. 

 

 

P.S. the inspiration for this post was two unscheduled power outages that ruined my plans for a peaceful work day and my current bed-side read: Unscaled by Hemant Taneja – which I reviewed here