For almost a decade now, technology has been a focal symbol for Africa’s development and gentrification. Young professionals and entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to innovate and build simple and affordable solutions that help everyday life in Africa less complex. Market-creating solutions are now providing jobs for millions, making payments and commerce more seamless, moving people and goods from one place to another, establishment of more tech hubs and also providing income for entrepreneurs and the government.
Every year since 2010, funding reports show the amount of investments heading into the continent’s tech ecosystem is on the rise, and 2019 was another groundbreaking year – ushering more global attention to Africa’s tech ecosystems than any previous years; including visits of tech giants (Jack & Ma), high profile IPOs and the Chinese triumphant entry.
MORE TECHNOLOGY HUBS
Communities foster startup and innovation culture, they play crucial roles for community, business incubation and ideation, their growth continues to fuel innovation on the continent. A few years ago, there were only a few hubs across the continent notably, today, there are over 500 hubs across sub Saharan Africa. In February, Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), one of the Nigeria’s pioneer innovation hubs, launched a design hub in Kigali, Rwanda. In September, CcHUB also acquired iHub, a leading Kenyan tech hub.
THE FINTECH TAKEOVER
It’s not a bubble, the biggest winners so far are the startups that have made it a mission to fix Africa’s underbanked and payment problems. Startups are building payment gateways to support businesses and everyday transactions, savings and digital lending apps to offer quick loans and access to credit without traditional assets as collateral and even cryptocurrency trading apps. Another important moment was when Visa co-led a $170 million investment Series C round in Branch in April and also invested $200 million for a 20% stake in Nigerian payments processor Interswitch, confirming the company’s status as Africa’s first fintech unicorn. MasterCard also invested in flutterwave and Jumia pay. Opay, a $120 million Chinese backed payments service platforms with operations in other verticals made rounds via an aggressive takeover. Flutterwave, and ChipperCash expanded globally and in more bureaus across the continent. Migo (formerly branded Mines) announced its expansion to Brazil on a $20 million Series B raise.
THE GRAND EXIT
Naspers, Africa’s most valuable company with investments in Supersport, MNet, Tencent-Wechat, Swiggy and Mail.ru was split into two, after which it listed its international internet assets (PROSUS) on the Amsterdam stock exchange creating Europe’s biggest consumer internet company. The reason was for a need to expand beyond the continent in pursuit more growth and profits. The African unit also appointed the first female and first black chief executive of the 104-year old company.
We cant talk about significant moment in tech without mentioning the rise of motorcycle ride-hailing startups – a market estimated to be worth $4 billion, a piece of cake waiting to be shared by MAX.ng, Gokada and Opera-owned ORide, Safeboda and even Uber and Bolt. These startups have attracted foreign investments and moved toward EV development. Max raised a $7 million series A round with participation from Yamaha and is currently testing renewable energy powered e-motorcycles.
Africa-focused tech talent accelerator Andela laid off 400 junior engineers across Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, due to market demand for more senior engineering talent. Andela’s client-base is comprised of more than 200 companies around the world that pay for the African developers Andela selects and trains to work on projects. The layoffs came after the startup released first-time earnings figures indicating it will surpass $50 million in annual revenues for 2019.
African venture investments broke all the previous records to register USD 1.340 Bn in investments through 427 deals in equity and debt financing in 2019. The year was especially a great year for the Nigerian ventures that raked in USD 663.24 Mn, highest amount of venture capital money secured by a country in 2019. Kenya had a super growth year netting 283.64% growth over the previous year’s funding amount. South Africa took the third position in the top 3 countries as per funding amount.