Africa Roundup: DealDey Acquisition Creates VC Exits

Africa’s e-commerce startups continue to tally outside investment. This time through Ringier’s acquisition of Nigerian online shopping site DealDey for an undisclosed amount. DealDey is a Groupon like startup that aggregates daily discounts on popular goods and services. The venture previously raised at least $6 million in financing from the Swedish investment firm Kinnevik.

Ringier—a Swiss media and e-commerce company—named the acquisition as part of a broader Africa strategy to invest in digital marketing and online sales verticals.  Ringier created a new joint venture for the DealDay purchase: Ringier Africa Deals Group (RADG). RADG will pursue other related e-commerce investments across Africa.

The DealDey acquisition marks continued outside investor confidence in the value proposition for African e-commerce—expected to top $75 billion by 2025, according to McKinsey Consulting. Ringier’s purchase follows the recent global investment in e-commerce company Africa Internet Group, which reached a $1 billion valuation after a $326 million round including Goldman Sachs and AXA Insurance.

The market moves also signal African tech is in the early stage of a new phase: its first notable acquisitions, exits, and IPOs. In addition to the DealDey purchase and investor exits, we reported in January the likely IPO of Nigerian payments startup Interswitch on the London Stock Exchange.

African IT companies are also finding themselves in the middle of high stakes cross border commercial disputes. For months South African telecoms giant MTN has been embroiled in a dispute with Nigeria’s government over a $3.9 billion fine the former levied claiming MTN failed to comply with a disconnect deadline for unregistered SIM card users.

MTN has appealed for a lesser charge and recently brought in former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as their lead negotiator on the case. The presidents of both countries—representing Africa’s two largest economies—have also weighed in on the impasse. Reuters recently reported that MTN offered $1.5 billion to settle the $3.9 billion fine, after making a $250 million “good faith” payment in February. We’ll see if Nigerian regulators accept.

Check out the latest on IBM Research Africa in this TechCrunch feature. The blue chip company opened a $100 million research lab in Nairobi in 2013 and is re-creating a Watson-inspired African tech platform—dubbed Lucy—to “solve the continent’s grand challenges.” TechCrunch caught up with IBM’s Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya on the Africa lab’s progress to date and plans to open a new research lab in South Africa later this year.

More African Stories @TechCrunch

  • In case you missed it, here’s our feature on commercial drones in Africa, including South Africa’s Rocketmine and Ghana’s Aeroshutter. Both are flying and booking revenue. South Africa recently implemented new drone regulation. Commercial drone delivery in Africa through initiatives such as theRed Line project could begin in 2018.

More Around the Net        

  • “Did DealDey get a good deal?,” explores Bankole Oluwafemi —@TechCabal
  • Global startup accelerators turn their attention to Africa—@VentureBurn
  • U.S. based GroTech fund raises initial $4 million to back South African tech startups—@Disrupt Africa