Twenty-sixteen was once a pivotal year for African tech.
The continent’s IT scene attracted major investment, produced its first $ 1 billion startup, launched a national drone delivery program, and drew one of Silicon Valley’s biggest icons to tour its innovation hubs.
This from a region that simplest a decade in the past generated almost no Google news hits for tech. That indubitably wasn’t the case this year. although Africa has yet to supply big startup earnings, IT IPOs, and even its own dot-com bubble, it did register vital tech occasions during the last one year.
Jumia became Africa’s First Unicorn, Orange Acquires DealDey
A torrent of capital and a remarkable acquisition boosted the worth proposition of e-commerce in Africa. In February, digital gross sales startup Jumia was the continent’s first unicorn when it surpassed $ 1 billion in market value after a $ 326 million funding round together with buyers AXA, Goldman Sachs and MTN.
founded via Germany’s Rocket web and based in Nigeria, Jumia is deploying the cash throughout its 11 startups in 23 African nations. Its e-commerce structures offer on-line services ranging from type and employment to real estate. Jumia also launched its own digital payments platform JumiaPay, in 2016.
In March, the African subsidiary of Swiss media and e-commerce company Ringier acquired Nigerian on-line purchasing startup DealDey for an undisclosed quantity. This created exits (rare hereto in African tech) for Ringier’s initial investors. The move used to be a part of Ringier’s strategy to spend money on four verticals within Africa: classifieds, content material, digital advertising, and e-commerce. The Swiss firm formed Ringier Africa deals crew, a joint venture with South African Silvertree web Holdings Ltd., for the DealDey buy and future market moves.
giant identify enlargement: Netflix, eBay, Uber, IBM
a few awesome tech names increased on the continent in 2016. In January, Netflix went are living in Africa, accelerating from zero-fifty four international locations in one fell swoop. This introduced a problem to African VOD startup, iRoko, which countered with several of its own moves to enter new countries and produce more proprietary Nollywood content material.
eBay elevated in Nigeria and Kenya in July through a partnership with on-line purchasing startup MallforAfrica.com. The collaboration launched an eBay Powered by means of MallforAfrica platform through which U.S. companies with a 300+ star ranking can promote. eBay will add eleven new nations to the partnership in 2017, together with Angola, Botswana, and Tanzania, according to MallforAfrica CEO Chris Folayan.
Uber extended its product, country, and metropolis attain in Africa in 2016. In June, we reported on the corporate’s trying out of distinctive service choices on the continent now not to be had in lots of its world markets. These include cash payments, new safety measures, and cell picture course apps.
Uber gained a homegrown rival in Kenya in 2016 with Safaricom’s launch of the Little app. Little’s entry has spurred a tit for tat competition in Kenya’s journey hail market around worth and product offerings between Uber and the us of a’s other potential digital-automotive services. the most important winner to this point appears to be Kenyan shopper.
large Blue additionally increased its Africa presence in 2016. We pronounced in could on IBM analysis Africa’s mission to create a cognitive computing similar to Watson, dubbed Lucy, from its Nairobi lab. The U.S. blue chip giant accelerated that effort in August, opening a 2nd analysis lab in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Zuckerberg shock African Tech Tour
fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unannounced August/September trip to Nigeria and Kenya put the global spotlight on Africa’s rising IT ecosystem. In Nigeria he talked to startup heads (lodges.ng, Afrinolly, and Andela), visited the Co-creation Hub, hosted a fb town hall, and met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
In Kenya Zuck stopped by using the iHub innovation area, reviewed the BRCK cell Wi-Fi software, had lunch with Kenya’s ICT cabinet Secretary and met with local tech leaders together with Juliana Rotich and Erik Hersman. fb, which has roughly 85 million customers in Sub-Saharan Africa, introduced no new initiatives, saying the commute was about “learning and figuring out.” There’s without a doubt more behind the scenes— perhaps a 2017 upgrade to facebook’s Free basics program, which at present lets in users limited cell internet services free of charge in 17 African countries.
Drone delivery in Rwanda
all through 2016 we covered California based drone delivery startup Zipline’s partnership with united states of americaand the government of Rwanda to launch drone supply of crucial scientific supplies in Rwanda. After a few check rounds, Zipline went reside with the program in October, becoming the world’s first nationwide drone supply application at scale. It’s a business pastime, with Zipline earning revenues per supply. Zipline’s Africa drone operation additionally gained the eye of the White house UAV initiative, which tapped the startup to check drone delivery of clinical supplies to remote U.S. communities.
Interswitch IPO Projected and Delayed
In January, it gave the impression of there was the sturdy possibility of Nigerian fintech firm Interswitch turning into Africa’s first public startup unicorn on a huge change. CEO Mitchell Elegbe didn’t rule out a conceivable dual record on the London and Lagos inventory change. any other supply mentioned the corporate’s bankers selected an LSE IPO in this autumn. The offering didn’t materialize but may still happen in 2017. In a recent interview, Elegbe said the lengthen was once due to investor situation over Nigeria’s declining 2016 macroeconomic scenario and unstable naira. On a conceivable 2017 public list, a company spokesperson stated that “an IPO is still an possibility.”
VC: Incoming and Pan African
The continent continues to gain world investments and is forming homegrown tech funding dollars. within the digital finance area, Y-Combinator backed Nigerian startup Paystack closed this month on a $ 1.three million seed investment from sources together with Tencent and Comcast, CEO Shola Akinlade established.
the world bank’s international Finance organisation (IFC) also flagged extra funding for African startups in 2016 as a part of its $ 30 million Startup Catalyst Initiative.
Kenya’s iHub incubator introduced this month the launch of its new Africa Innovation Fund for startups. The elevate, targeted at $ 10 million for Kenya and $ forty million for other African nations, continues to be energetic, iHub’s period in-between-CEO Kamal Bhattacharya stated. This follows a market trend of African innovation hubs moving away from supply-based totally financing toward more for-revenue and investment oriented fashions, as said right here.
So what giant movements are worth looking at in African tech in 2017? First, some screw ups. This isn’t precisely downbeat. Failing is an inevitable a part of the tech ecosystem. The continent’s IT sector has been on a a few yr run of issues rising, increasing, gaining new investment. Some attrition and creative digital destruction must be forthcoming.
On the flipside, it’s about time certainly one of Africa’s commercially oriented startups demonstrates extraordinary profits. yes, over 2016 the continent showed it will possibly produce unicorns, exits, entice big VC, and even get as regards to an immense IPO. but as Cameroonian IT leader Rebecca Enonchong as soon as told me, “To be taken seriously African startups want to win within the for-proﬁt world market.” possibly some examples of on the way to emerge within the new year.
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African Tech around the web
- World financial institution to Launch African Accelerator Programmes—@BiZCommunity
- BitPesa Automates funds Between Africa and China—@BizTechAfrica
- Kenyan start-Up Raises 1.75 Million Eur to give a boost to growth in Africa and Asia—@AllAfrica
- EIB, AfDB launch boost Africa to fortify 1,500 startups—@DisruptAfrica
- Barclays Africa Is Accepting purposes Into Its Fintech Accelerator software In Cape town—@TechCabal
- Kenya income Authority implements SAP ERP—@ITNewsAfrica