TechCabal Daily: Dating needs are changing in the age of lockdowns

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22.05.2020
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DATING IN THE AGE OF COVID-19
Dating is taking a different form in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and government lockdowns. With lovebirds confined to separate locations communication needs for dating are changing. Chatting remains popular, but people also want to see their loved ones or at least feel like they are close to them. This wasn’t a problem pre-2020. If one missed their lover, they would simply fix a date and meet physically. In the COVID-19 era, such physical meets are somewhat rare, forcing putting to spend more time on video calls.

But online dating platforms are on the back foot. With their users traditionally concerned about privacy and sometimes preferring to stay anonymous, video formats were not really popular on dating platforms. But today, as more people desire to have video calls with their
lovers, they’re taking their conversations elsewhere to platforms like Instagram Live and WhatsApp video calls. Over the last few months, dating services have recognised this need. In this article, TechCabal’s Kay Ugwuede writes that platforms like Tinder and Plenty of Fish have developed in-app video features to tap into this new dating reality.

FUNDING

Edtech startup, Syafunda has raised $140,000 funding from Edge Growth as schools in South Africa prepare to reopen. Founded in 2013, Syafunda works with local content providers and publishers to setup digital libraries in rural locations accessible via hotspots. At these sites, anybody with a mobile device can access the library to learn. So
far Syafunda is available at 76 schools but is looking to expand to more locations. It plans to partner with petrol stations and will rollout the library two Engen petrol stations in the country. The new funding will help the startup scale and develop a new online bookstore.

BUS HAILING
In Kenya, bus sharing service, SWVL is set to return to the road after its operations were shut down due to the pandemic. The bus service is just one of many sharing
services affected by COVID-19
and government lockdowns globally. Services ranging from Uber to co-working spaces have suffered as infection control measures including social distancing temporarily discouraged people from leaving their homes.

But SWVL’s operational problem goes beyond the pandemic. The Egyptian startup faced regulatory compliance challenges from Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). In November 2019, SWVL temporarily suspended operations in some part of the country to allow its driver-partners to comply with NTSA regulations.

Now, however, the
startup said it has “resolved all issues with the NTSA” and will steadily restart operations once lockdown measures are lifted in Kenya.

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FUNDING
Peach Payments, a South African payments company, has raised new funding to accelerate product development and deepen its reach. The new funding came from UW Ventures, Allan Gray and a few other investors including the startup’s existing investors. The amount raised was not disclosed.

Join our next TechCabal Live session this Friday, May 22 at 11 am (WAT). This edition will feature Odunayo Eweniyi, COO at PiggyVest. Odunayo will share her company’s experience navigating the ongoing crisis. She will answer questions including; how do startups respond during this crisis? How and why should you focus bullishly on your customer needs during the crisis? Register here to join the session.

DEVELOPER NEWS

A team of two Kenya students has emerged EMEA regional winners at the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a global developer competition. Michael Mwaisakenyi and Kenneth Gichira from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology won $16,000 from this year’s event held virtually at the Microsoft Build event. The duo built an AI-powered robot that identifies
and removes weed around crops. Here’s a YouTube link to their pitch.

RWANDA’S SPACE AGENCY

The Rwanda government has approved a draft law establishing the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA). It plans to make the agency operational by July. Once it launches, the RSA will manage Rwanda’s international space activities and cooperation. Last year, the government told the United Nations it wants to develop its own space technology facilities. The end goal is to “really access and exploit space technology for national benefits,” the government said. Once operational, the RSA will join a small number of African countries with space agencies.

Thanks for reading,

Have a great weekend. We’ll be back after the public holiday.
#flattenthecurve
– Abubakar

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