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Autochek Officially Launches in Kenya

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Autochek, the automotive technology company that aims to facilitate auto finance across Africa, has officially widened its operations to Kenya as part of its pan-African expansion. To lead its Kenya operations, Autochek has appointed Bilhah Muriithi as the Country Manager. Having recently acquired automotive marketplaces Cheki Kenya and Cheki Uganda from ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the move into the Kenyan market signals Autochek’s focus on building digital solutions that will increase market adoption for auto loan financing and drive partner prosperity for its core stakeholders, such as dealerships, garages and financial institutions. 

With credit penetration in Kenya at 27.5% and over 400,000 car sales per annum, East Africa’s growing market is positioned as a key auto financing hub.

Autochek will leverage its 360-degree automotive solutions to provide vehicle financing and after-sales services through its finance partners such as NCBA Group, Caritas MFB, KKVL, Musoni and Sidian.

With Cheki Kenya’s operations fully integrated with Autochek’s, the company now has over 12,000 unique vehicles listed on the Autochek app and have onboarded licensed brand new car manufactures (Inchcape, CFAO Group  & CMC Motors) as well as used car dealers (Al Rahim, Autobox, Newton, Mombasa Khushi & Canon Motors). To ensure vehicles are kept in good condition, customers in Kenya can access affordable and expert maintenance services from standardised workshops (AutoXpress, Motor Consult, Kei Cars & ) and insurance partners( PesaBazaar & MTEK) via Autochek’s partner network.

Speaking at the official launch event in Nairobi, Etop Ikpe, Founder and CEO of Autochek stated “With a high credit penetration rate, Kenya is an exciting market for us to be expanding into. The Kenyan market presents an opportunity for us to build on what Cheki Kenya has done over the last decade and to build technology solutions that will drive growth in Africa’s automotive industry.

“We’ve had great success in our pilots by adapting and tailoring our solutions for different consumers. As we expand our operations in Kenya, we are excited to welcome Bilhah on board, who we found to be a strong leader with a solid background in the finance and automotive sector, and is equipped to lead the team in Kenya as we continue to expand our footprint across East Africa and beyond.”

Having started her career at Cheki Kenya, Bilhah joins Autochek from NCBA BANK PLC, Digital Business, where she was responsible for running the Carduka portal, an online motor vehicle platform, as the Business Manager. With over 9 years of experience, Bilhah has built her leadership acumen working with digital brands in Kenya. As Country Manager, Bilhah will be responsible for overall oversight of the business, growing the marketplace by ensuring that Autochek has all mainstream car dealers, all auto lenders, all car buyers, all insurance & tracking companies.

Commenting on her new role as Country Manager, Bilhah Muriithi said: “We foresee great opportunities in Kenya – not just for Autochek, but also for key stakeholders and consumers. By moving into Kenya, we are able to deliver great opportunities for innovation. I am excited to be joining this highly motivated team, who are passionate about making a real impact across the continent.”

Joining Bilhah, Etop and the Autochek team at the launch event themed “Leveraging Financing to Facilitate Motorization Across Africa” were representatives from key stakeholders including Dr.(Eng) Joseph K.Njoroge, Principal Secretary, State Department of Transport, Major Kipchumba, Chair Kenya Car Bazaar, Hussein Ibrahim, MD, Inchcape, Andreata Muforo-TLCOM Capital & Tony Voorhout, MD, Nissan Kenya.

Launched in 2020 and backed by TLcom Capital and 4DX Ventures, Autochek combines technology underpinned by data analytics to deepen auto finance penetration across the continent. Powered by its residual value algorithm, Autochek is able to pre-qualify customers for financing and disburse auto loans within 48 hours through a single application process. Autochek’s in-house digital solutions have enabled the platform to partner with over 68 financial institutions, build a 1,000 strong dealer network integrated with 1,000 workshop networks in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.  

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NCS Launches Mobile Tracker For Customs Clearance

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The Federal Government’s policy on ease of doing business receives a major boost as the Nigeria Customs Service is set to introduce Webb Tracker mobile Application and a simplified standard operating procedure for the use of scanners.

The mobile app enables any person that has access to the NICIS II to remotely validate any declaration/payment and more importantly the status of a particular consignment/vehicle. With this innovation, motorists and owners of other imported goods no longer have to wait for long period of time for field operatives to confirm the validity of their documents before letting them go.

This mobile app which can be installed in mobile devices (phones, tablets e.t.c) enables the use of the vehicle identification number to upload data concerning the type, make and model of all vehicles at the point of making declaration with a view to assigning value for the payment of appropriate Customs duty.

On the road, field operatives using this mobile application will be able to in real-time, validate any Customs declaration using the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the Customs control numbers to ascertain the correct status of vehicles and other containerized goods released or in transit.

This apart from removing acrimonies associated with enforcement activities on the highways will robustly facilitate free flow of compliant trade while checking illegal imports.

The simplified standard operating procedure provide clear guidelines on the usage of scanners at all entry and exit points in Nigeria.

The steps are:

All containers are Pre-Scanned as soon a they are discharged from vessel.
Declaration, Assessment and Payment is made by the declarant.
NICIS II Risk Engine allocates scanned containers to designated Image Analyst.

For Compliant Containers:

Compliant Containers are released from Customs Control.
Released Container is acknowledged and exited through the gate.

For Non-Compliant Containers:

At the end of each day, a list of suspected containers is forwarded to the Terminal Operator.

Terminal Operator positions them for physical examination on the request of the Declarant.
Officers on Recheck duty examine the suspected containers.

Examination is submitted to the Scanner Manager for further action.
Released Container is acknowledged and exited through the Gate.

While giving approval for the launch and implementation of these innovative trade facilitation tools, the CGC, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) expressed the hope that these tools will eliminate incumbrances being currently experienced by international trade actors in Nigeria. He calls on stakeholders to support the Service in its drive to deliver Customs best practices to the nation.

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Zinox Emerges 2021 Technology Company Of The Year

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Leading integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) giant, Zinox Technologies Ltd. has been crowned the pioneer 2021 Technology Company of the Year by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella organization of all Information Technology professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in Nigeria.

Zinox, which turned 20 on October 10, 2021, was accorded the award at the National Information Technology Merit Awards (NITMA) held at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

The event had the crème of personalities in the Nigerian tech sector in attendance, including the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat who represented the Lagos State Governor at the event. The Deputy Governor was also honoured with the Fellowship of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

Technology Company of the Year award marks another addition to a long list of local and international honours and recognitions received by Zinox in its two decades of exceptional leadership and disruptive dominance in the ICT ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, the latest award comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the company.

In his acceptance speech while receiving the award, Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman, Zinox Group, commended the organizers of the event for a well-orchestrated event.

Additionally, he expressed gratitude to the NCS, which he described as his professional constituency and the planning committee of the NITMA awards for nominating Zinox for the much-coveted Technology Company of the Year award. Also, Ekeh thanked the members of the NCS for voting for the company and considering it a worthy winner of the award.

‘‘On behalf of the Zinox Group, I am grateful to the members of the NCS and the organizers of the NITMA awards for this award. This recognition is another prestigious one which will serve to further energize the management of the company in its task of putting Nigeria on the global technology map,’’ he stated.

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Treepz Expands To East Africa, Acquires Agabus, Closes Seed Fund Of $2.8M

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In a bid to digitize the public transportation system and provide safer, reliable and comfortable commute options across Africa, Toronto-based shared mobility company, Treepz, has announced its acquisition of a similar Ugandan bus company Ugabus.

Treepz was founded in 2019 and currently operates in Nigeria and Ghana. It is simply a platform that powers road transportation systems using technology. Treepz operates a digital platform allowing passengers to book daily rides along fixed routes within Lagos and Accra. They also serve as an aggregator for over 12 bus travel companies including the likes of GUO, Efex Executive, Libra Motors, ABC Transport who commute customers on Treepz across 21 cities in Nigeria in the last 6-months since launching this product. Transport operators can now make better use of their bus systems by replacing manual servicing and ticketing with digitalized offerings and services from Treepz.

Ugabus started in 2016 and currently has 70% of all bus operators in the East African country on its platform with a mobile money technology for easy payments.

Speaking on the acquisition deal, the CEO and Co-founder of Treepz, Onyeka Akumah said, ‘Everyone at Treepz is excited to welcome the team at Ugabus to the Treepz Family. This has been in the works for sometime, along with our deal that happened in Ghana a few months ago, and so, we are really happy about closing the deal successfully.

East Africa is an exciting target for Treepz and from Uganda, we would work with this new team led by Hakiza in Uganda to explore our growth plans across the neighbouring countries as we aim towards building the largest shared mobility platform in sub-saharan Africa.”

The Treepz all in one app allows passengers to search, compare and book rides within cities and from one city to the other, conveniently from the comfort of their homes. Ugabus’s indegious intercity-focused technology therefore complements Treepz’ progressive model to bring on-demand public transportation and shared mobility to a new terrain in Africa including mobile money technology.

“We care alot about how people move from one city to another, and we did our best to build the most reliable bus booking app in Uganda. Now we’re joining the TREEPZ family to accomplish a bigger vision-one that we think we can better achieve with TREEPZ. We have known and respected the exploits of the founding team led by Onyeka Akumah and today, we are very happy that we would be pioneering the business growth of Treepz in East Africa starting with Uganda.” said Ronald Hakiza, CEO and Founder Ugabus.

The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the 100% acquisition will see Treepz impressively extend its geographic footprint in East Africa, given that Ugabus operates in all cities in Uganda. Ugabus will now be renamed as Treepz Uganda and will begin operations on the 1st of December 2021 with the support of the Ugandan Government expected that day. Also, Ronald Hakiza who was the CEO of Ugabus will now become the Country Manager for Treepz Uganda and will be bringing on board his team to support the business growth plans.

In addition to expanding into new markets and building the largest shared mobility in Africa, Treepz has announced today that is has raised an additional $1.6 million USD in seed funding with new investors coming on board. The company has now successfully closed its oversubscribed seed round after raising a total of $2.8 million USD in the last 3 months starting in August 2021 when their seed round was announced with $1.2 million in investment.

The impressive growth at Treepz has also attracted attention of the team at Google with extra funding from the Google Africa Black Innovation Funds announced in October 2021. According to Onyeka, the 2-year-old startup will be using all of these funds to aggressively expand it’s on-demand ride-sharing and intercity bus ticketing services in Africa.

The new investors joining the round includes Japanese VC, Uncovered Fund along with Dubai based venture capitalists including Blanford Capital and Jonomi Capital. Also, Egypt-based fund, Jedar Capital participated in the round with follow-on investments from previous investors.

According to Takuma Terakubo, CEO & General Partner of Uncovered Fund Inc, he discussed their investment and said, “Treepz has impressed us with their remarkable traction in the latter part of the year and are poised for even further expansion, particularly through strategic partnerships. Treepz is building the most important mobility infrastructure in Africa’s megacities.

The development of public transportation is essential in African countries where urbanization is advancing. We look forward to their building the infrastructure for people’s mobility through digital value. As a Japanese VC who places importance on the mobility industry, we would like to provide a lot of value to them.”

Also speaking on investing, Founding General Partner, Jedar Capital, Sherif Nessim had this to say; “I am happy to be supporting Onyeka and treepz team on their mission to modernize daily transportation for African people.

Onyeka’s reputation as an award winning entrepreneur and ex co-founder of successful startups as well as the strong team brought me to a strong conviction that this a team focused on executing a great vision to become the largest mobility and transportation provider in Africa, supporting in-country and intra-countries travel for Africans where many depends on travelling to neighboring countries for work every day, this round will help them boost and fuel their expansion plan in West and East Africa and I am sure they will continue to grow across these regions the coming 12-18 months”.

Treepz is now one of the leading mobility startups in Africa in the just 2 years since launching in Nigeria focused on powering public transportation systems starting with buses.

With its presence in Nigeria, Ghana and now Uganda, the startup is leveraging local expertise, its technology-focused solutions, a strong leadership team and well-managed government relationships across Africa to digitize the transportation space one country at a time.

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