Photograph — abokiFX News

Here are three big stories from Africa’s business and policy landscape you (probably) didn’t miss but should keep in mind this week:

Nigerian banks lose ₦2.09 billion to frauds in Q4 2023

Nigerian banks reported a troubling rise in fraudulent activity, with losses reaching N2.09 billion in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023. This represents a significant increase of 77.58% compared to Q3 2024, according to the latest “Fraud and Forgeries” report released by the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC). The report also revealed an uptick in the number of fraud cases, with Q4 recording 12,405 incidents. This represents a 2.81% increase from the previous quarter. While computer/web fraud, mobile fraud, and POS-related fraud remained the most prevalent types throughout 2023, mobile channels emerged as the top target for fraudsters in Q4. Mobile fraud accounted for the highest losses (N356.57 million), representing 17.039% of the total stolen amount.

Interestingly, the report highlighted a decline in bank branch-related frauds (59.73%) compared to Q3, suggesting potential improvements in security protocols at physical branches. However, losses via ATMs, PoS terminals, and web platforms increased. ATM fraud surged by a staggering 711.15%, while PoS fraud and web fraud saw significant increases of 95.01% and 50.49%, respectively. The report further details that the amount lost through the ATM channel grew to N40.47 million from N4.99 million in Q3, representing a 711.15% increase. POS fraud also witnessed a surge, with losses reaching N14.6 million from N7.5 million in the previous quarter (95.01% increase). Web fraud losses climbed to N28.77 million from N19.12 million (50.49% increase).

MTN Nigeria Q1 revenue up despite user base decline and net loss

MTN Nigeria, the country’s leading telecom operator, reported mixed results for the first quarter of 2024. While revenue grew significantly, exceeding inflation and reaching over ₦700 billion, net profits were hit hard by foreign exchange losses. The ₦700 billion revenue figure represents a 32% increase compared to Q1 2023. This growth highlights a continued demand for MTN’s voice, data, and fintech services. However, the company also reported ₦656.4 billion in net foreign exchange losses. This loss is attributed to a challenging macroeconomic environment, including a weakening Naira and volatile exchange rates.

Another factor that impacted MTN’s performance is the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) directive on linking SIM cards to National Identification Numbers (NINs). This directive resulted in the barring of 8.6 million subscribers who failed to comply. According to MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola, “The NIN-SIM directive impacted our user base growth.” While the full subscriber bar totaled 8.6 million, the company managed to minimize the net impact, with the total user base only dropping by 2 million to reach 77.7 million at the end of Q1 2024.

Despite the subscriber decline, MTN saw positive growth in some areas. Active data users increased by 8.0% to 44.5 million, and voice traffic rose by 5.1%. However, these increases were tempered by declines compared to the previous quarter, likely due to the ongoing NIN-SIM registration process. The combined effect of these factors led to a decrease in MTN’s Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) by 1.9% to N296.9 billion. While revenue grew, it wasn’t enough to offset the negative impacts of foreign exchange losses and the regulatory environment.

Mauritius gets new subsea cable to link Africa to Asia

Mauritius Telecom, the leading telecommunications provider in Mauritius, is taking a significant step to enhance internet connectivity across Africa, the Indian Ocean islands, and Asia. The company is spearheading the development of a new subsea cable project, dubbed T4. The T4 is designed to replace the existing South Africa Far East (SAFE) cable, a critical infrastructure that has linked Africa and Asia for 25 years. However, with SAFE reaching its end-of-life in 2027, Mauritius Telecom is looking towards the future. The new undersea cable is expected to offer a significant boost in capacity, boasting a staggering 1,000 times the capability of its predecessor.

“Recent cable breakdowns have highlighted the need to secure our Far East connections,” stated Kapil Reesaul, Chief Executive Officer of Mauritius Telecom Ltd. The company is reportedly in talks with potential partners for the T4 project, including Indian telecom giant Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and French multinational Orange SA (Groupe Orange). The urgency for this new infrastructure comes from recent service disruptions. In April 2024, Mauritius experienced a technical outage, adding to a string of cable issues in the region. This emphasizes the critical role subsea cables play in maintaining reliable internet connectivity.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • Nigeria’s equities market went upwards over a 5-day trading week, with the NGX All-Share Index appreciating by 1.46% to close at 99,587.25 points. The top gainers were FBN Holdings Plc. (32.68%), Sterling Financial Holdings Plc. (27.75%), U A C N Plc (24.60%), Julius Beger Plc (23.76%), and Flour Mills Plc (20.66%). The top decliners were Nascon Allied Industries plc (-17.03%), University Press plc (-16.67%), Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc (-14.14%), Berger Paints plc, (-9.87%), and Vita Foam Plc. (-9.81%).
  • The naira closed the week at ₦1400.40/$1 on Friday at the investor’s and Exporters’ window.
  • Brent crude closed the week at $82.80 while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at $77.96.
  • The global cryptocurrency market cap stood at $ 2.36 trillion, as of 6 am Monday, the 6th of May. Bitcoin stood at $63,997.30, a 2.38%, increase over the week, Ethereum decreased by 2.00% to trade at $3,135.87 and Binance coin also decreased by 0.81% over the week, to trade at $590.89.
  • Last week, Nigerian startup Renda closed its pre-seed round at $1.9 million in equity and debt funding. The equity investment of $1.3 million was led by Ingressive Capital, with participation from Techstars Toronto, Founders Factory Africa, Magic Fund, Golden Palm Investments, Reflect Ventures, and Vastly Valuable Ventures.
  •  Nigerian on-demand delivery service Chowdeck, secured $2.5 million in seed funding to optimize its operations and support expansion into more cities across the country.

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