Funding has proved to be the turning point for African tech innovators, with more foreign investors and donors launching mega projects. Owing to the fact that the potential has always been there in a continent largely made up of third-world countries, it can be argued that funding is the only way to build on the rich technological hub that is Africa. From mobile services to e-commerce, we look at some of the success stories making rounds in the continent in terms of services.
The Rise of Mobile Money
One of the greatest innovation stories of all time has to be Safaricom’s M-Pesa, an instant mobile money transfer system. Since its launch in Kenya over a decade ago, it has made huge strides not only in the African continent but also in European, Asian, and American countries. It was the brainchild of mobile banking and mobile-related transactions which have now become the decisive features of any telco operation.
Africa’s largest operator, MTN, has already announced plans to venture into mobile money services in South Africa and Nigeria, and eventually in all parts of the continent in the near future. The company has partnered with other operators such as Orange in an interoperability joint venture that will see the partnership enable it to rapidly reach countries covered by Orange, and yet to be covered by MTN. One of the biggest beneficiaries is certainly Betway Zambia, where betting fans are currently enjoying easy and convenient mobile transactions.
The Growth of E-commerce
There was a bit of uncertainty surrounding Konga, Nigeria’s largest e-commerce company, but that only served as a reminder that there are no guarantees on investments. Jumia, Konga’s greatest rival, on the other hand, was making inroads into the depths of the continent. The much-publicized launch of its billion dollar IPO could not have come at a better time. Africa is reaping on its efforts to match the west in terms of technological innovations, and the best is yet to come.
E-commerce has not had it smooth since its inception, but despite the apparent hurdles, there is a significant growth of 18 percent annually from 2014, which is currently higher than the average growth witnessed globally. Betway, an online betting firm has also grown consistently into the African market.
The culture of tech entrepreneurship has continued to deepen across the continent, with other countries outside the usual suspects joining in the fray. In 2016, GSMA had listed 314 active accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces in the continent, but the number had grown to 4412 by the end of 2018. These hubs were particularly concentrated in only 5 countries; it is reported that newer hubs are sprawling beyond the traditional tech markets.
Somalia, for example, is experiencing a thriving ecosystem, a total contrast to what is currently happening in Nigeria. Reports are rife that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, and one of the continent’s largest economies is experiencing an acute brain drain. Its best crop of software engineers is seeking greener pastures in North America and Europe, although it is also believed that they are in pursuit of skill advancement abroad.
Uber and Taxify on the move
The competition between top two ride-hailers has served as a win for the continent, with continued innovation translating to better, cheaper services, in addition to convenience. Uber marked it’s five years of operations in Africa by launching a bus service in Egypt and expanding its network of cheaper services. Taxify, now a billion-dollar unicorn, on its part has invested heavily on doubling its operations to cover more cities in Africa than Uber.