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Canal+ acquires ROK, Flutterwave and Alipay partner, OPay raises $50M – TechCrunch

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in July, French television company Canal+ acquired the ROK film studio from VOD company IROKOtv.

Canal+ would not disclose the acquisition price, but confirmed there was a cash component of the deal.

Founded by Jason Njoku  in 2010 — and backed by $45 million  in VC — IROKOtv boasts the world’s largest online catalog of Nollywood: a Nigerian movie genre that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally (by production volume).

Based in Lagos, ROK film studios was incubated to create original content for IROKOtv, which can be accessed digitally anywhere in the world.

ROK studio founder and producer Mary Njoku  will stay on as director general under the Canal+ acquisition.

With the ROK deal, Canal+ looks to bring the Nollywood production ethos to other African countries and regions. The new organization plans to send Nigerian production teams to French speaking African countries starting this year.

The ability to reach a larger advertising network of African consumers on the continent and internationally was a big acquisition play for Canal+.

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech  startup Flutterwave  partnered with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba’s Alipay to offer digital payments between Africa and China.

Flutterwave is a Nigerian-founded B2B payments service (primarily) for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad.

Alipay is Alibaba’s digital wallet and payments platform. In 2013, Alipay surpassed PayPal in payments volume and currently claims a global network of more than 1 billion active users, per Alibaba’s latest earnings report.

A large portion of Alipay’s network is in China, which makes the Flutterwave integration significant to capturing payments activity around the estimated $200 billion in China-Africa trade.

Flutterwave will earn revenue from the partnership by charging its standard 3.8% on international transactions. The company currently has more than 60,000 merchants on its platform, according to CEO Olugbenga Agboola.

In a recent Extra Crunch feature, TechCrunch tracked Flutterwave as one of several Africa-focused fintech companies that have established headquarters in San Francisco and operations in Africa to tap the best of both worlds in VC, developers, clients and digital finance.

Flutterwave’s Alipay collaboration also tracks a trend of increased presence of Chinese companies in African tech. July saw Chinese owned Opera raise $50 million in venture spending to support its growing West African digital commercial network, which includes browser, payments and ride-hail services. The funds are predominately for OPay, an Opera owned, Africa-focused mobile payments startup.

Lead investors included Sequoia China, IDG Capital  and Source Code Capital. Opera  also joined the round in the payments venture it created.

OPay will use the capital (which wasn’t given a stage designation) primarily to grow its digital finance business in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

OPay will also support Opera’s growing commercial network in Nigeria, which includes motorcycle ride-hail app ORide and OFood delivery service.

Opera founded OPay in 2018 on the popularity of its internet search engine. Opera’s web-browser has ranked No. 2 in usage in Africa, after Chrome, the last four years.

July also saw transit tech news in East Africa. Global ride-hail startup InDriver launched its app-based service in Kampala (Uganda), bringing its Africa operating countries to four: Kenya,  Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania. InDriver’s mobile app allows passengers to name their own fare for nearby drivers to accept, decline or counter.

Nairobi-based internet hardware and service startup BRCK and Egyptian ride-hail venture Swvl are partnering to bring Wi-Fi and online entertainment to on-demand bus service in Kenya.

BRCK is installing its routers on Swvl vehicles in Kenya  to run its Moja service, which offers free public Wi-Fi — internet, music and entertainment — subsidized by commercial partners.

Founded in Cairo in 2017, Swvl is a mass transit service that has positioned itself as an Uber  for shared buses.

The company raised a $42 million Series B round in June, with intent to expand in Africa, Swvl CEO Mostafa Kandil said in an interview.

BRCK and Swvl wouldn’t confirm plans on expanding their mobile internet partnership to additional countries outside of Kenya .

Africa’s ride-hail markets are becoming a multi-wheeled and global affair making the continent home to a number of fresh mobility use cases, including the BRCK and Swvl Wi-Fi partnership.

More Africa-related stories @TechCrunch

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Today’s Wordle Answer #413 – August 6, 2022 Solution And Hints

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The answer to today’s Wordle puzzle (#413 – August 6, 2022) is alien, which means to be strange or exotic, or to come from a foreign land (via Merriam-Webster). Unlike yesterday’s word, alien has a rich etymology. It comes from Latin “aliēnus”, which means not one’s own, foreign, or strange. It’s also derivative of “alius”, which also means “other”. It also has roots in Middle English “alienen”, which means to transfer or surrender property rights, or to exclude.

Here’s a fun fact: Scottish church minister and science teacher, Thomas Dick, set out in 1848 to calculate the number of aliens living inside the Solar System. According to his predictions, if the population density of outer space matched that of England, with 280 people per square mile, then the Solar System might be home to 22 trillion inhabitants (via BBC). Now that’s a very chilling thought.

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Domestic Car Sales Have Gone Through A Steep Decline Since COVID

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Sales statistics compiled by DataHerald for SlashGear show a strong decline in the number of vehicle sales over the last few years. Some sales traditions, like a January dip followed by a strong spring sales period as tax returns hit people’s bank accounts, are apparent in the data we received. An interesting thing to note is how the annual January drop seemed to be more severe in 2021. January 2020 saw a drop of around 60,000 sales when compared to the previous month, and sales declined by roughly the same number between December 2020 and January 2021. However, due to the lower sales volume overall, the dip appears to be more severe on the chart and is drastically larger if you look at it as a percentage of sales instead of raw sales numbers.

As you may expect, the biggest dip in sales occurred at the height of the April 2020 lockdown. During this period, sales figures dipped below 125,000. This is likely because many showrooms and dealerships were closed, which meant there were fewer locations where you could actually purchase a car. Unfortunately, despite a brief recovery throughout the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, sales numbers never got back to pre-pandemic figures. Since May 2021 we’ve witnessed a steep decline that threatens to drop sales figures as low as they were at the height of the pandemic. In May 2022, sales were below 180,000 again, with no signs of the downward trend reversing.

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Tesla Is Finally Adding This Common Feature To Its Steering Wheels

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“All cars made since November also have push center for horn – just waiting on firmware update,” Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter about the horn placement issue. This was after a Twitter user asked if it was possible to “remap the horn on the steering yoke.” In other words, if you drive a Tesla car with a steering yoke, you can use a regular horn after a software update. In addition, the update will allow you to activate the horn if you press your palm against the right side of the steering yoke. 

Another user on Reddit spotted a Tesla Model S with a sticker on the steering yoke that says “Airbag horn enabled in SW-352573.” The photo suggests that Tesla is testing a different type of steering yoke that features a regular horn on the airbag location.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has made a U-turn after it tried to re-write the rules of the traditional horn –- it was forced to recall about 500,000 vehicles that made fart noises and bleating goat sounds instead of the usual beeping horn sound, thanks to a feature Tesla called Boombox (according to CNN).

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