If you can’t beat them...

Ethiopia is taking on Big tech and Shoprite is exiting more countries  

Hello there, 

On August 27, 1955, the first edition of “The Guinness Book of Records'' was published. While most people got to know the Guinness Book of records for incredible feats, there’s also been some silly records set. 

Most eggs crushed with the head: 80 eggs within a minute

Most people brushing their teeth simultaneously: 10,800 people

Most married person: 23 times

What record would you like to set?

Ethiopia’s grand plan: If you can’t beat them...

Ethiopia has started developing its own version of social media platforms to compete with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Zoom.

That’s a bold move

Yes, the government wants its local platform to “replace” these platforms, although it does not plan to block them (yet).

How did we get here

In June, Facebook pulled down fake accounts targeting opposition figures ahead of Ethiopia’s House of Peoples’ Representatives election, a move that didn’t sit well with the incumbent Ethiopian government.

The director-general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts that he said were “disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia.”

On the other hand, the Ethiopian government has been criticized in the past year for shutting down access to internet and social media services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, due to unrest in the Tigray region and during the election.

Back to building social media networks

To build these platforms, Ethiopia is relying solely on local expertise, citing China as a source of inspiration.

Zoom out: This decision has gotten some applause from some people who praise Ethiopia for trying to stand out from the crowd.  But there are also concerns that in the long run, Ethiopia would end up censoring content and monitoring its citizens like China. Time will tell.

Shoprite is adding more countries to its list 

Shoprite, Africa’s retail giant has added Uganda and Madagascar to the list of markets it’s exiting.

Earlier in the year, it announced leaving Nigeria and Kenya. This month it announced closing its 10 stores in Madagascar and five branches in Uganda, which employ 300 Ugandans.

What is driving this?

The rise of online shopping, which drove shoppers away from traditional brick-and-mortar outlets like Shoprite, and the significant costs incurred by the company to adhere to the Covid-19 pandemic may have been the final nail in the coffin.

But in South Africa, all appears to be well

Shoprite, which operates the Checkers, Usave and Shoprite retail outlets in South Africa mentioned that these South African supermarkets, excluding LiquorShop, achieved sales growth of 9.7% in the last year.

Good to hear, what else is happening?

Last week, Shoprite announced the launch of Checkers Rush, a pilot Artificial Intelligence-powered store that has no cashiers or checkout counters in Cape Town. Customers just enter the store, pick up the goods they want, and walk out without needing to swipe a card.

Ouu, Fancy

Yeah, Inspired by the Amazon Go store, this pilot store is only open to employees as Shoprite is still training the system. It has only 40 products and will scale as soon as the system gets better. Shoprite hopes customers will get to visit sometime in the near future as soon as they’re confident in the system.

Big Picture: Last year, the continent’s biggest retailer reported a $5.5 billion revenue (+4.7%) and $270 million net profit (+18.3%), despite experiencing a 16.7% decline in customers visits due to the pandemic. As part of measures to remain profitable, it’s discontinuing its business operations as well as experimenting with new ideas.

Worth reading 📚

Quote 💭

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.

— Elizabeth Gilbert