Sudan’s largest digital classifieds and marketplace, Alsoug, has raised US$5-million to launch a national payments network, but the company remains concerned about low internet penetration and its impact on growth opportunity.
Alsoug’s CEO Tarneem (Nina) Saeed said:“We have some workarounds to this, but ultimately digital economies and Fintech require really solid internet access.”
“We hope the telcos will be focusing energy on doing the upgrades they need to do to enable this soon. If the government can address these two issues, the country has the potential to leapfrog from its existing position and become one of the most internet-connected and tech-driven nations in Africa.”
The fundraising from Fawry – Egypt’s first and largest digital payments company – marks one of the first international venture capital investments into a technology business in Sudan.
Alsoug’s plan to roll out Cashi payments infrastructure is intended to provide local consumers and businesses with an alternative avenue through which to make payments.
Saeed is hopeful of significant change to the country’s tech sector and is encouraged by the number of young entrepreneurs establishing start-ups, as well as a population of 41 million-people that are now far more open to technology – notwithstanding 30 years of isolation.
“For example, we have sensed that both consumers and merchants here are more open to e-payments than was the case in neighbouring countries a few years ago,” she said, underlining the company’s reliance on a strong shareholder group to tackle the challenges ahead.
“Yes, we believe we have to really run. This was why bringing Fawry in with us was so important, so we could benefit from their extensive know-how and proven tech to leapfrog in many ways. Our shareholder group also includes other investors who have solid Fintech experience in both frontier and developed markets, as well as deep pockets!”