[Africa Tech Week] Africa’s startup ecosystem continues to thrive
The startup ecosystem in Africa is growing really fast and had a remarkable and successful year in 2017. The sector has attracted the attention of prominent personalities including Mark Zuckerberg and even Bill Gates. This attention opened up inroads for greater access for the startups to scale and even receive investments. This week, Egypt’s The Next 100 African Start-ups initiative announced that it will invest in 100 promising startups from Africa. The initiative will connect the startups with business leaders, international investors, financial institutions, and policymakers at the Africa 2018 Forum to be held in December.
Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, BDO EA and Pangea also launched a $50,000 ShelterTech 2018 program to support startups in Kenya. VC4A this week also announced the eight Africa ventures that have been selected for the 2018 VC4A Venture Showcase – Series A. The startups range from industries like agriculture, healthcare, housing, transportation, and finance. Still, on Startups, Wefarm, the world’s largest farmer-to-farmer digital network announced that it had reached over 1.1 million users across Kenya and Uganda. This announcement came a few months after the startup secured $5 million in additional seed funding, led by Silicon-Valley based True Ventures, Skype and Atomico Founder Niklas Zennström, angel investing in a personal capacity, WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg, Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan, and the Norrsken Foundation.
This week, Egypt's first smartphone maker, Silicon Industries announced that it is looking to enter the broader African market by the end of 2018 or early 2019 as it seeks to boost exports, its sales director said.
This week also saw a number of new appointments being announced across the continent. Andela announced that it had appointed Clément Uwajeneza as Country Director for Rwanda. In July 2018, Andela announced its expansion into Kigali as its fourth African market following Lagos, Nairobi and Kampala. Digitalisation expert, e4, appointed Masego Khutsoane as its new Divisional Head of Financial Services. Khutsoane joins e4 with a wealth of experience having held senior positions within the JSE, Absa, Woolworths Financial Services and Nedbank.
African firms have this week also been trying to tap into new e-commerce opportunities. A new report revealed that Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo need far-reaching reforms of their infrastructure and legal systems to benefit from e-commerce. At the same time, Kenya’s Postal corporation announced that it is eyeing a deal with American e-commerce company Amazon that will see it become their official logistics partner in the country. Just a few weeks ago, CAD4Africa, South Africa's largest CAD (Computer Aided Design) software eCommerce site launched in Kenya and Nigeria. We also did an interview with Peter-John Woest who is the Sales Manager in the South African eCommerce site to try and understand what plans the company has for the African market.
Uber this week also announced that it had partnered with Zindi, a data science competition platform for Africa to optimize public transportation in Nairobi. This was not the first time we have seen Uber announce new partnerships with African companies. Just recently, partnered with South Africa’s insurance firm Chubb to cover Uber drivers. In Tanzania, the company also recently entered into a strategic partnership with Tigo to allows Tigo customers to use Uber app for free. In Kenya, it also partnered with Visa for epayments.
Samsung this week unveiled its new range of 2018 QLED TVs in Kenya. This is not the only news that came from Samsung this month, as part of employee volunteer programme, the company recently arranged the Global Start-up Acceleration Programme in South Africa, in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and NGO Nangila to mentor start-ups in various fields to support the sustainable growth of entrepreneurs. Still in South Africa, in partnership with Comsol Networks, a leading provider of enterprise-grade wireless infrastructure, and they lit up Vilakazi Street in Soweto with a live 5G pilot network.
Kaspersky Lab researchers also detected a continuous stream of spear-phishing emails targeting African governments. The emails are being sent by Muddy Water, an advanced threat actor first seen targeting Iraq and Saudi Arabia in 2017. Boost chatbot launched in Kenya to help users select and buy the best airtime bundle for their needs after analyzing a user’s requirements for data, SMS and minutes.