VENTURES AFRICA – Africa is in the midst of a technology boom, with innovative startups springing up all over the continent. Major technology companies are focusing their attention on the continent, and governments are using ICT as a springboard to better public services and transparency. Ventures Africa’s Tom Jackson takes us through a couple of reasons why Africa is producing more innovation than anywhere else right now.
The African Venture Capital Association currently constitutes over 400 investors looking to invest and help new startups. The likes of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST)and VC4Africa are looking to provide investment opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. The quick growth of the market – and the potential for that growth to escalate – has attracted many investors into the sector with many more set to follow.
Mentoring and Support
Investors in Africa appeared to have realised that mentoring, coaching and strategic partnerships can benefit unknown and untested startups to build viable business plans and products. MEST appears to be a pace-setter but many new hubs and incubators – such as the iHub and m:lab in Nairobi – are following and are getting proactive. Institutions such as Stanford University are also on the verge of setting up hubs in Ghana. All this serves to widen the knowledge of those involved in innovation.
Africa has many skilled developers creating some fascinating new technology, some of them able to rival even the best Western techies. Classic examples include Nandimobile, which won “Best Business” at the Launch Conference in San Francisco, and RetailTower, which has now signed a partnership deal with Amazon Apps. Developers have realised that their products must meet international standards to be successful, and are rising to the challenge.
Local African developers are increasingly taking on global ambitions, providing global solutions rather than just local ones. This is serving to change the perception in the West of Africa, with innovations such as ionacloud and DukaPress already having been picked up more in foreign countries than in the countries in which they were developed.
Scaling & Expansion
Whereas in the past startups may have started in order to build a small staff base and have a relatively decent cash flow, the new breed of tech entrepreneurs have scalable plans and aspire to build large, maybe even multinational companies. This new ambition is at the heart of the ambitious and expanding nature of African tech.