Can Africa Sustain This Tech Startup Momentum?
At the end of 2016, the estimated population of Africa will hit 1,069 billion. This staggering population explosion is not what is key here. What is important is that majority of these people are under 30.
Today, across the continent, there are over 200 Innovation hubs, 3,500 new tech-related ventures and more than $1 billion dollars have been raised from venture capitalists .
For example, Zipline, which is a drone delivery startup recently raised 25 billion dollars to expand medical delivery in Rwanda. This is proof that venture capitalists are interested in investing in the continent despite the economic gloom.
Interestingly, Rwanda joins countries like Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and Accra shaping the future of technology and innovation in Africa and at the same time attracting venture capitalists due to their significant numbers of startups.
Irrespective of this seemingly successful startup drive, the question is if this momentum can be sustained?
These concerns have been raised due to the challenges of running businesses and startups in the continent. Except for a few countries, the challenges are similar. Electricity is epileptic, government bureaucracy is frustrating and the business environment is very unfriendly. Thus, these limitations have poorly positioned African countries on the World Bank ranking Ease of Doing Business.
But what is happening in different countries makes it obvious that young Africans are recklessly driving faster than the Hennessey Venom GT supercar (the world fastest car) to maneuver infrastructure and administrative hurdle to achieve remarkable results.
The startups that have braced the odds include but not limited to Mpesa for sending and receiving money in Kenya, Mpedigree which uses mobile phones to identify counterfeit drugs in Ghana, Ushahidi for gathering data from any device with custom surveys and crowd sourcing in Kenya, and Iroko Tv, the home for Nollywood movies in Nigeria among others.
Remarkably, these startups are managed by young Africans who have spent years living, studying and working in different parts of the world and have returned to establish startups which employ thousands. Also, Africans who have never left the shores of their countries are not lagging because they are also contributing to this startup revolution.
One thing undoubtedly working for the continent is that there different ways startups can raise funds to help cushion these challenges. You can apply for startup challenges or competitions like the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health Challenge , Internet.org innovation challenge and seedstars world competition among others.
It is worthy that startups are springing up all over the continent despite the challenges. The undeniable fact is that the challenges of Africa are tech startups’ opportunities. So, these inadequacies will not disappear overnight. Thus, whether the startup momentum will be sustained or not, the continent is doing something right to consistently attract investors and venture capitalists. And of course, Africa’s population are youths.
Freelance Content Developer