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Refurbished Appiate road reopened to traffic

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In an interview with Accra based Citi FM after the reopening, she said the reconstruction efforts by government in Appiate is going on successfully.

“Work is almost completed, and it is about 85% complete, therefore the reason for its reopening today to traffic. Extensive works have been done and there are a few works to be done including drainage works and safety signs, but it is in the right direction to open it now to traffic, and we are happy. We are giving ourselves two weeks for the total works to be complete”, she said.

When the Deputy Minister was asked about the cost of the reconstruction, she said it is currently unknown as the project is an ongoing one.

Preliminary investigations by the Police indicated that a mining explosive vehicle moving from Tarkwa to the Chirano Gold Mines collided with a motorcycle resulting in the explosion at Appiatse, a farming community between Bogoso and Bawdie in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality in the Western Region.

Fourteen people were killed and 179 others injured in the explosion, which occurred on Thursday, January 20, 2022.



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CEO of Paga Tayo Oviosu discusses the next phase of innovation for African fintechs

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Although born and raised in Nigeria, Tayo had left the West African country when he was just 16 years old. So, he was basically returning to a totally different country from the one he once knew. But that didn’t deter him. He had seen a huge opportunity in the Nigerian market and came up with an idea that would disrupt the country’s financial services industry. That idea gave birth to Paga, one of Africa’s earliest fintech players.

In this interview, he tells Business Insider Africa what the journey has been like so far and what to expect going forward. Enjoy the conversation.

BI Africa: It’s nice to finally have this interview, Mr Tayo. For the benefit of some of our readers across Africa who may not know you, could you kindly introduce yourself

Tayo Oviosu: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you. A little about my background; I am Tayo Oviosu, the Founder and CEO of Paga. I was born and raised here in Nigeria until I was 16 years old. And then I moved to the US to study for a degree in Electrical Engineering. I come from a single-parent family. My mum raised five boys all by herself. I am the last of the five boys and probably the most troublesome of them all.

So, yeah…I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California. Afterwards, I worked for a couple of startups during the initial stages of the dot.com boom. I also worked for Deloitte Consulting at some point before going back to school to obtain an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business . Afterwards, I worked for about three more years in the US before I decided to come back to Nigeria to become a part of the country’s economic development process.

Upon getting to Nigeria, I joined a private equity firm called Travant Capital Partners. But I soon left that company to go do something entrepreneurial. I was very excited about what I had seen in Nigeria. This was around 2009 and the growth/opportunities of the private sector here was immense. So, I spent about three months looking at different ideas before really honing it on what is now Paga. Out of all the ideas I looked at, Paga was probably the one I spent the least amount of time considering before I was convinced.

So, I got started. I only boot-strapped for the first six months. And really, what got me going was the fact that a lot of the transactions in Africa’s largest country and largest economy was still largely cash-dependent. How can everyone just be carrying large sums of money around? For both individuals and businesses, it was so inefficient and we had to be able to solve that. And that was the simple idea —there had to be a way to solve this problem and make it more efficient for everybody. And that’s what we’ve been doing till date.

More about me… I am now happily married. I have a 2-year old that keeps me excited alongside Paga and my wife. My wife likes to joke that Paga is my first baby but I disagree with that. Anyway, outside of work, I really enjoy running, swimming, reading and my Chelsea Football.

BI Africa: A lot of people regard you as a pioneer in the African financial technology (Fintech) space. Tell us what that feels like and what you are doing to maintain that status.

Tayo Oviosu: Well, it’s absolutely interesting when people say things like that to me because I didn’t set out thinking I want to become a pioneer. But the fact that my progress has inspired a lot of people is a good thing. And my hope is that those who are coming after me, in terms of starting companies in Africa, can have it easier because of the success that we’ve experienced. That said, I do have in my head now the idea that I am some sort of role model and that I have to think about my actions and how I operate our business at Paga because we are at a very interesting place in the world right now where there’s more and more interest on the African continent. And it’s only good examples that people know and can relate to that will continue to drive that interest.

BI Africa: Let’s talk about the digital payments revolution in Africa and the ongoing financial inclusion efforts. As you know, there have been lots of advancements made in these regards by companies such as yours. Yet, a wide gap still exists. What do you think needs to be done in order to accelerate the growth of fintech in Africa?

Tayo Oviosu: Let me begin by noting that there are multiple goals when it comes to accelerating fintech growth in Africa. Financial inclusion is just one of those goals. But I think that in general, anything that can make it easier for fintech ventures to thrive is welcome. Let’s start with the government; they should just continue making it very easy to do business in Nigeria and other African countries. Speaking of which, I would like to quickly shout out this current Nigerian administration for what they have done in terms of even having someone focus on “how do we make it easier to do business?”. They don’t get enough credit for that to be honest. I think that’s a big deal. I’ve seen it in the course of our business that that team has stepped in moments where they were things going on that shouldn’t have been the case. I really do think that’s the most important thing a government can do – just create an enabling environment and continue making it easier to do business because doing this will open up opportunities for more foreign investments in these fintech startups.

I will also recommend that the government should consider making it possible for Nigerian pension funds to invest in startups. Right now, these pension funds only invest in treasury bills and I believe they could make a lot more money by taking a little more risks of investing in startups. Figuring out how the government could make that possible would really go a long way in accelerating things.

That said, I think that the Central Bank of Nigeria has done a fantastic job by creating the fintech categorisations and clarifying what each licence is allowed to do. They’ve done a really good job at setting the fintech industry up for success and I really want to commend them on that.

The last thing I would recommend has to do with improving the quality of our education system. This is very important towards ensuring the continuous growth of fintech in Africa. Now by education, I am speaking particularly about STEM, especially as it relates to the girl child because that’s where we have the biggest gaps. So, the government should focus on that and make it easier for young boys and girls to learn how to code, learn engineering skills and Maths skills.

BI Africa: You stressed the importance of ease of doing business and we will like to focus on that a little bit. Last year, your company relocated its headquarters to the UK from Mauritius. Up until then, a lot of people didn’t even know that Paga wasn’t domiciled in Nigeria. Talk us through the peculiar challenges of doing business in Africa as an African and why a growing number of startups like yours are choosing to domicile abroad.

Tayo Oviosu: So, let me start by clarifying the misconception about our relocation and where our headquarters is domiciled. We do have a Nigerian company. And that company is the one that hires our team in Nigeria and it is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The company is fully operational and we invest heavily in it.

However, our holding company is domiciled abroad and there are several reasons for that. For first reason is because we have plans to be in more countries besides just Nigeria. We currently have people in Ethiopia other parts of the world. So, our initial idea is to have a holding company that would own the subsidiaries in different countries. The question then became ‘where should the holding company be headquartered?’. And I guess you could ask the question ‘why is the holding company not in Nigeria?’. That is a possibility.

But there is a good reason why we chose the UK as our headquarters. For the kind of international investment we are undertaking, we needed to be domiciled in a place where the rule of law is clear and very effective. In fact, I was recently interviewed on this topic of ease of doing business in Nigeria and here’s what I said: the government really needs to work on the judicial system. We’d like the judicial system to move a lot faster than it does today because already, we have good laws but it just takes a long time for anything to get adjudicated. And that’s not good for business.

If the rule of law would get adjudicated quickly and fairly in Nigeria, then you would see more businesses signing contracts with Nigeria as the governing law. When investors consider where to set up their holding companies, one of the things they are consider is the worst case scenario —can they trust that they would be fine if the worst should happen?

You typically want to be in a jurisdiction where you are comfortable with the rules, understand the the tax laws and have faith in the rules. We initially chose Mauritius because we thought that’s one place in Africa where this could work. But we’ve now moved to the United Kingdom because like I said before, we now want to bring global investors into the picture and these global investors are more comfortable with the United Kingdom.

BI Africa: Do you think Africa’s tech space is currently being over-regulated, particularly in countries like Nigeria?

Tayo Oviosu: I actually don’t think we are over-regulated. However, I do think we are regulated and that the government should continue to ensure strict adherence to these regulations. I can mention a number of companies that are not abiding by the regulations and they are just sort of getting by with nobody doing anything to them. And sometimes that can be really frustrating. That said, I strongly believe we are properly regulated, especially here in Nigeria. I can’t think of a single regulation that the Central Bank of Nigeria has come up with without fully consulting with all the necessary stakeholders to get their inputs. It doesn’t mean that they always agree with the stakeholders’ ideas. In fact, they hardly ever do. But at least, they always consider stakeholders’ perspectives before implementing any policy. And whenever something is not clear to them, they ask questions. Unfortunately, because they are not so good at public relations, it often comes across like they are over-regulating us when that’s not actually not the case.

BI Africa: There are some people that believe the African fintech ecosystem is becoming too saturated/competitive. Do you think that’s the case?

Tayo Oviosu: Well, there’s now a lot more players. But there are also more and more opportunities in the fintech space. And that’s because companies like ours have built the infrastructure. Take for instance, today Paga is connected to all the banks through multiple routes. We’ve also built a really deep infrastructure in card processing; whether it’s physical card processing or POS machines. We have now integrated into Visa for online card processing and we are directly connected to eight of the top banks. So, we’ve created really deep rails both for online and offline we do believe that in today’s Africa, you need a hybrid approach to scale. So, we’ve solidified on our online and offline payment infrastructure needs, while the competitors are trying to recreate the wheel to leverage that infrastructure.

Earlier this year, we announced the launch of our platform as a service. I think we launched it around May and now we have over about 140 startups using that infrastructure. They are doing many things such as hosting wallets, leveraging it for payment requests, they accessing billers, some of the banks are using it as well. Now to further answer your question, these developments are really showing me that people are like ‘okay! you know what, fintech or the core infrastructure of fintech is already built. Let’s now innovate on solving other problems for companies and individuals and we can leverage and embed those capabilities’. And I think that’s really exciting for the next phase of innovation and the next set of companies that will be focusing on things like asset management, helping people to save, helping businesses to digitise, etc.

BI Africa: Now, tell us a bit more about Paga’s next big moves seeing as you have basically conquered payments.

Tayo Oviosu: There are a number of things that we are focused on at the moment. Fundamentally, Paga is solving payments for consumers as well as for sellers. The Paga brand is actually our consumer brand and then Doroki is our seller brand. We actually just launched Doroki just a few months ago in partnership with Visa. We are really excited about that. So, for us, these are the two core things that we are focused on. We also recently got a regulatory approval for banking licence which we will now use to offer lending to consumers and SMEs.

Underneath all of these, we now have the platform as a service which I mentioned earlier. Basically, it is an infrastructure that we are using for ourselves but also opened up for other people to use. So, we will be executing more deeply on that vision. And what’s exciting to me about it, Emmanuel, is that if you look at the total process value on Paga, it is exponentially growing faster. As of end of October, we have processed N3.5 trillion ($7.2 billion) since 2012. That is really exciting. And it’s coming across the board – it’s coming from the consumer side scaling really fast, it’s also coming from the platform-as-a-service side. And then on top of all these as you should know, we also have over 60, 000 retail agents across the country where people can get services. In fact, we are so widely popular such that the agency banking business in Nigeria is now known as the Paga business. Even agents that are not working for Paga are calling themselves Paga. We’re happy with that. It’s all good. Right now, it’s all about accelerating all of those activities and deepening into the markets. Those are our real focus for now.

BI Africa: Speaking of markets, where next are you hoping to expand to besides Mexico and Ethiopia?

Tayo Oviosu: So, just to clarify that, we are not in Mexico at the moment. We had plans to launch in Mexico but those plans have been completely put on hold. I think we actually just publicly mentioned that recently. So yeah, we’ve put that on hold. But we are in Ethiopia and we are also actively looking at other African countries. In the near term, we will only focus on African countries. But we’re not ready to announce where yet.

BI Africa: Is the Ethiopian conflict affecting your business in any way?

Tayo Oviosu: We are paying attention to what’s going on there because we have about 40 staff in Ethiopia. We are very much conscious of their welfare. And so, we are making sure that everybody is fine. The conflict is not yet affecting our operations on a day to day basis and we do hope it doesn’t. But at this point, the most important thing is the welfare of our team and we are paying attention to that. Of course we have our business continuity plan put together. But really, what’s most important is the welfare of our Ethiopian team.

BI Africa: Last question, you’ve talked some of the expansion plans we have and the new products you’re launching. And all of that will require money to execute. And I know that so far, you’ve raised about $40 million according to available records. Do, you have plans to raise more money?

Tayo Oviosu: Oh definitely we do. But there’s nothing to announce at the moment. Just watch out. We will definitely announce something when the time is right. Our business is clearly the type that requires capital and we are excited that investors are are seeing the depths of what we have built and are interested in partnering with us. We are open to these opportunities, but also being very thoughtful about it because we don’t believe that all money is equal. We are looking out for investors who genuinely believe in the purpose we are going after and share the same values with us. That’s what we are looking for.



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We’ll block roads, go on naked protest if fuel prices aren’t reduced – Drivers

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In a statement signed by the association’s national chairman, Paa Willie, and Public Relations Officer, David Agboado, it said the incessant and frequent fuel price hikes is no longer bearable to their members.

“Not long ago Driver Unions agreed on an increment of lorry fares which was due to the increment of fuel prices at the time.

“After a week of fare increment, prices of fuel have shot up again which directly affecting the increment of fares bring us back to zero profit,” the association lamented.

“The 20 %increment of fares at week was not even enough to compliment our sales and maintenance of our vehicles, but we managed considering our customers and knowing we’ll that salaries have not been increased.”

Prices of fuel have been on the increase for months now and have caused transport fares, prices of food and other commodities to skyrocket.

On Tuesday, there was another increment in fuel prices that shot up the price of petrol to GHC10 a litre.

The situation has compelled the drivers’ association to warn that: “We promising the government, if we don’t see a positive change in hike of fuel prices, then we will demonstrate,block major highways in the capital and go naked for them to feel our wrath.”

Read the full statement below:

NATIONAL CONCERNED DRIVERS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA

CONFIDENCE TRICKSTER GOV’T EXPECT HIGHWAY ROAD BLOCKS AND NAKED

Cost of living within the country is gradually becoming unbearable as prices of goods and services keeps on increasing.

As an association, we have been observing and we have noticed that,the government always posed as a confidence trickster.

Not long ago Driver Unions agreed on an increment of lorry fares which was due to the increment of fuel prices at the time.

After a week of fare increment, prices of fuel have shot up again which directly affecting the increment of fares bring us back to zero profit.

We asking the government and the economic management team to deal with the rampant increment of fuel prices immediately or we will advise ourselves.

The 20 %increment of fares at week was not even enough to compliment our sales and maintenance of our vehicles, but we managed considering our customers and knowing we’ll that salaries have not been increased.

We promising the government, if we don’t see a positive change in hike of fuel prices, then we will demonstrate,block major highways in the capital and go naked for them to feel our wrath.

We believe the ordinary Ghanaian must suffer for the mismanagement and incompetence of the government.



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‘Bobolebobo’ hitmaker Minister Isaac Sie back with another hit ‘Kamale Mulele’ (LISTEN)

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“Kamale Mulele,” according to Isaac Sie, means ‘God is king,’ and it is inspired by the wonderful works of the creator and his kingdom that is about to come.

For Isaac Sei, God has unlimited attributes, and the title of his latest banger is just one of them.

Although the gospel star has been painfully sidelined by prestigious awards schemes in Ghana despite creating hit songs like “Boborebobo,” his latest song isn’t targeted at any award scheme. However, if it grabs the attention of awards schemes, he won’t deny them the honour.

Award is not the main objective for my latest single, but welcomed if it comes,” Isaac Sie disclosed in an interview. The DHE GILLY RECORDS label frontman advised his loyal fans who have been supporting his career and been through the thick and thin with him that they “should look up to God. He is KING!”

The song is available on all digital stores across the globe. Stream the full song below, and don’t forget to share your candid views.



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