Netflix brings TikTok? Kenya’s electric vehicle plans, New SIM registrations

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Good day,

Oluwanifemi and Emmanuel here

Today we are discussing:

  • Netflix introduces Fast Laughs, a new feature similar to TikTok
  • NCC’s new take on SIM registration
  • Kenya’s plan for electric car-charging points

Netflix brings TikTok feature, Fast Laughs, to mobile app

Netflix is rolling out a new feature, Fast Laughs, on its mobile app. Fast Laugh is a video feed of comedy shows, series, and sitcoms. This option is currently rolled out on iOS. Android users will get to have a feel in a few months to come.

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Why should you care? You can simply click on this feed to see snippets of trending comedy shows and series. From there, users can also watch the full video, react to or share the short clips, as well as add them to their Watchlist.

Clone or…? Fast Laughs is similar to TikTok. The snippets are displayed on a full screen with engagement buttons on the far right side. With a click, you can share and react with emojis while watching. The only difference is there is no comment button.

Not today: Netflix is really trying to make its users have the social media experience while on the video streaming app. Previously, it was the vertical rows of snippets from suggested movies called ‘Previews’, like Snapchat or Facebook Stories.

Next in line: In a few months, Netflix may also introduce another feature called ‘Shuffle Play’, an AI feature that suggests what you should watch based on your choice of previous movies.

While this is similar to the already full homepage of videos calling to be watched, the ‘Shuffle Play’ feature will help out on days you’re not sure of what to watch.

With a click, it will start playing what it deems suitable for you at the moment; probably picked from an unfinished movie, Watchlist, or a randomly selected show.

By the way, Netflix probably wants to compensate for 2020. The company plans to release 70 original movies, at least once a week, in 2021. On a few occasions, Netflix hinted where some of these movies will come from. Yesterday, it announced that it will release 41 Bollywood original movies in 2021.

Meanwhile, with the launch of Netflix Naija, some Netflix Nollywood original content may also be released this year.

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Worth the read: Why Netflix needs more than cheap plans to drive massive growth in Africa

NCC reveals take on resuming SIM registration

The story: In a recent conversation between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), and other stakeholders, it was indicated that MNOs may not be allowed to resume SIM registration until they have built a framework that can’t be compromised.

This means, whatever they come up with must not give room for third-party sales of pre-registered SIMs.

NCC believes this compromise is what caused the discrepancies now seen with SIM ownership in the country, a situation it is trying to correct by mandating Nigerians to link at most seven phone numbers to their NIN.

Implication: On resuming SIM registration, it is clear that no other means of identification will be allowed apart from NIN. On a closer look, this could mean Nigerians will have to wait for a long time since the country is still grappling to register all its citizens in the midst of a pandemic.

You should know: Nigeria is one of the 155 countries mandating SIM registration policies in the world. Courtesy GSMA (PDF).

Other takeaways: The NCC has also extended the licence it gave to MNOs to enrol NINs from 1 year to five years as a result of their satisfaction with what the telcos have done since it gave them the licence.

In addition to that, the body ordered that these operators should now have standard SIM swap centres in all local government areas in the country. The goal is to help them focus on other tasks.

Recall that on January 27, 2021, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) licenced telecom companies and other private companies to enrol people for NIN.

However, as I pointed out then, server problems and/or queues still exist in some telecom registration centres. These issues could, however, be ameliorated with the presence of several other private companies.

Now that MNOs have to be wary of third party involvement in SIM registration exercises, I think this might eventually become overwhelming for MNOs.

Last year, I pointed out that Nigerians may have a hard time meeting new SIM registration requirements in 2020, and the situation hasn’t really changed.

Kenya’s electric car charging stations

Photo by Andrew Roberts on Unsplash

Kenya’s state-owned electricity company, Kenya Power, is making plans to install electric vehicle charging points as it hopes to capture revenue from a growing global focus on electric vehicles.

Per Business Daily, Kenya Power plans to build a nationwide network of public charging stations on highways, parking lots, and malls.

First thing first: Kenya has an abundance of renewable energy sources for power generation. According to USAID, the total installed capacity is 2,819 MW. However, as of 2018, only 6.9 million people were connected to the national grid. This means almost 86% of Kenya’s 52 million population is not connected to the national grid.

The country has made significant strides with solar energy, but this represents a minuscule amount (1%) of its power generation. The East African powerhouse mainly relies on hydropower (57%), and thermal energy (32%).

Besides the dearth of power coverage, the average Kenyan worker earns a minimum of $338 per month. With weak access to credit, these set of earners would have to save their entire salaries for 5 years to be able to afford some of the cheapest EVs ($20,000).

There’s a solution? The company believes the high cost of EVs can be driven down by scaling up production and introducing favourable government policies. However, whatever revenue plans the government-led power company hopes to gain from these charging points will heavily depend on the people picking up the technology locally.

Promising signs: Besides Kenya Power’s move, agencies like the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) also recently announced it is investing in electric car charging systems.

In Nigeria, Asian vehicle manufacturing giant, Hyundai, also unveiled electric vehicles. Most of the issues discussed also apply to most African countries.

For context: The state of Nigeria’s automotive industry in 2020

What else we are following

  • Lease terminations & building audits: What’s happening at Fibre.ng?. Read more.
  • Nigerian founders-turned-investors are now running syndicate funds. Read.
  • SpaceX lands Starship prototype for the first time — and then it blows up. Ouch.
  • Keep in mind: Register for the Digital Currency Summit with this link.

Have a great day!
Oluwanifemi Kolawole & Emmanuel Paul for Techpoint Africa.


NIN Registration Aftermath: 77k COVID-19 cases in 2 months


On March 25, 2021, Techpoint Africa will be hosting the brightest minds in decentralised finance/crypto at the Digital Currency Summit tagged “Building the money of the future” Click here for more details, registration and sponsorship. Location: Fourpoint by Sheraton, V.I. Lagos.


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