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Four Nigerian Startups on the Final List of Africa Tech Summit

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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The Africa Tech Summit in Nairobi on February 14 and 15 will feature pitches from African businesses seeking to raise between $500,000 and $15 million to investors and industry insiders. 

After receiving more than 250 entries, the event organisers selected 10 businesses from a variety of industries, including finance, agritech, e-commerce, Web3, and climate-tech. 

The innovative approach used by the ten company finalists in the investment showcase helps them secure the funding they require to expand.

In contrast to 2022, which broke records, startup funding across the continent decreased in 2023. Africa: The Big Deal, a hand-picked investment database, reports that funding for African startups fell 39% in 2023 from $4.6 billion to $2.9 billion in the year prior.

The Africa Tech Summit is the organisation that organises the Investment Showcase and is a leading event for networking and promoting tech innovation in Africa. The Showcase aims to overcome the funding gap within the ecosystem by fostering collaboration and investment opportunities.

More than 250 entries were received from all around Africa, demonstrating the great potential for innovation and cooperation on the continent. These entries came from Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, South Sudan, Malawi, Angola, Morocco, Botswana, Benin, Congo, Uganda, South Africa, Sierra Leone, and more.

Let’s go into the details of the Africa tech summit and the four startups that have been selected for the finale. 

The Africa Tech Summit: An opportunity to showcase tech innovations in Africa 

The inaugural Africa Tech Summit London took place in 2016 with the goal of showcasing the continent’s growing tech sector. Since then, the summit has developed into one of the most important occasions on the African tech calendar, with gatherings taking place in both London and Africa. The summit will have its sixth edition in Africa in 2024. The summit has been held in three African cities: Nairobi, Kigali, and Lagos.  

Over the years, the summit’s scope has increased, drawing a wider spectrum of people and covering a wider range of business themes. Themes from past summits have included “Building Africa’s Tech Ecosystem,” “Harnessing the Power of Innovation,” and “Accelerating Africa’s Digital Economy.”

The Summit hosts conferences in Nairobi, London, and other locations on a range of topics, including finance, e-commerce, agritech, healthtech, edtech, Web3, and climate-tech. The following event, the Africa Tech Summit Nairobi 2024, will take place on February 14 and 15, 2024, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

Read also: Tech in Africa: How Nigeria is Leading Africa in Tech Startups

Key features of the Africa Tech Summit

The Africa Tech Summit contributes significantly to the advancement of technology on the continent in a number of ways;

Diverse participants and attendees: A diverse spectrum of individuals, including business owners, investors, legislators, and industry experts, attend the summit in an effort to promote technology in Africa. The variety of attendees contributes to the rich and lively atmosphere that is fostered by networking, knowledge exchange, and learning.

Wide Subjects Coverage: A wide range of subjects that are pertinent to African technology are covered at the summit. These encompass e-commerce, fintech, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and digital transformation, among others. Participants can pick the brains of eminent tech practitioners and experts.

Opportunities for networking and forming partnerships: Attendees of the summit have lots of chances to connect and build relationships. Numerous events are planned for the summit, including keynote addresses, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, social gatherings, exhibitions, and pitch competitions. 

Showcasing innovation and success stories: By showcasing their goods and services, entrepreneurs, startups, and tech firms can draw in investors, seize opportunities for growth, and encourage others to take up business endeavours of their own.  

Taking up important issues facing the continent: The conference gives participants a forum to talk about issues including poor infrastructure, a shortage of skilled labour, and restricted financial access that the continent’s technology sector faces. The summit serves as a forum for discussing these problems, which encourages problem-solving and tackling the obstacles.

The main goals of the Africa Tech Summit are to advance growth and innovation within the continent’s technology sector. It makes sense that it has grown to be one of the most significant yearly gatherings for the African and international tech communities.

Africa Tech Summit: The Gateway to Eradicating African Developmental Challenges

The adoption of digital solutions and creativity have been stimulated by the expansion of mobile connectivity throughout Africa. A range of digital subsectors, including Fintech, Healthtech, Edtech, and Insurtech, are witnessing the emergence of start-ups that seek to address the continent’s problems with cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Focus on innovation and technology

In Africa, the informal sector contributes significantly to economic activity and serves as a key source of employment. Lately, tech firms in Africa have begun to take advantage of this chance to develop scalable companies that target this market.

Senior partner Khaled Ben Jilani of the Pan-African private equity and venture capital firm Africinvest states that “the size of its gaps and the set of converging positive factors, or innovation drivers, make the potential impact of innovation in the African start-up space large and imminent.”

Over time, solving Africa’s persistent developmental issues will present business technology opportunities for innovators. There are countless options, particularly given how widely used smartphones and broadband are becoming throughout Africa.

Africa’s growing start-up ecosystem

The startup scene in Africa has expanded rapidly in recent years. In Q4 2019, there were 643 active innovation centres in Africa, increasing from 314 in 2016, 442 in 2018, and 618 in Q2 2019, according to Briter Bridges and GSMA.

More than 600 innovation hubs may be found in Africa, but almost half of them are concentrated in just four nations, or the “innovation quadrangle”: Nigeria (90 hubs), South Africa (78 hubs), Egypt (56 hubs), and Kenya (50 hubs).

Support from Venture Capital (VC) firms is key to the growth of African start-ups

Although obtaining funding has historically been difficult for African startups, things have begun to change in the past few years. 

Because they thought there was more danger on the continent, venture capital firms had previously been hesitant to invest in start-ups in Africa. 

Nonetheless, during the past five years, venture capital investment inflows into Africa have been rising substantially.

Venture capital firms have been more willing to finance start-ups in Africa. An increasing number of agreements and funding rounds are reported annually. As per the Partech Africa Tech VC report, African tech firms raised US$2.02 billion in venture capital funding in 2019 as opposed to US$1.16 billion in 2018, indicating a 74% year-over-year increase.

Highlights from previous Africa Tech summit

Previous versions of the Africa Tech Summit have given those in the African tech industry unmatched insights, networking possibilities, and commercial opportunities—as has become expected from such events. Key points from earlier summits include some of the following:

The involvement of prominent African startups and businesses:

Many successful businesses that have significantly impacted the African tech ecosystem have been highlighted at previous summits, including M-Kopa, Jumia, Andela, Chipper Cash etc.

Prominent panelists and speakers:

Many well-known speakers and panelists have been drawn to the summit, where they have offered their experiences, knowledge, and skills on a variety of topics pertaining to technology and innovation in Africa.

Case studies and best practices:

The Africa Tech Summit has given people a platform to exchange case studies and best practices about leveraging technology to tackle a range of opportunities and issues throughout the continent. Examples of how technology increases access to financial services, healthcare, education, and other necessities are all here.

Let’s talk about the 2024 edition of the Africa Tech Summit now that you know what to anticipate from it.

What to expect at the upcoming 2024 Africa Tech Summit

The 2023 summit will offer a cross-sectional look of technical advancements and prospects from throughout the African continent through three primary tracks.

  • The fintech and decentralised finance (DeFi) scene will be examined for potential new developments at the Africa Money and DeFi Summit. Specifically, fintech has taken off in Africa and is projected to reach $40 billion by 2025, growing at a rate of 20% annually.
  • Startups can demonstrate their projects and obtain investment opportunities at the Africa Startup Summit, which brings investors and tech corporations together with startups. Attendees at this summit will also get the opportunity to examine the prospects and difficulties facing the African tech sector.  
  • Mobile leaders, innovators, and regulators will come together at the Africa Mobile and Apps Summit to discuss growth prospects, trends, and solutions for the African mobile ecosystem. 

See also: SoftBank Set to Lead Funding for Nigerian Tech Startups

Four Nigerian Startups on the Final List of Africa Tech Summit

The selected startups for this year’s Africa tech summit include:

  1. Node Bio is a climate tech startup based in Kenya that uses state-of-the-art plant science to create crop treatments that successfully mitigate the negative consequences of climate change. With the help of their creative solution, Farmchef, plants may survive water-related stresses including drought and intense heat.
  1. Leading Egyptian Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) fintech platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Valu provides businesses and consumers with easy-to-use, all-inclusive financial solutions.
  1. A Nigerian cryptocurrency firm called Bingtellar is developing payment infrastructure for people all around the world, including enterprises, contractors, freelancers, and remote workers. Their ramp product makes it easier to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and enables quick money transfers throughout Africa.
  1. A Nigerian startup called Dukka is digitising bookkeeping and payments to help small businesses in Africa accept all forms of digital payment.

What are the Most Promising Startup Industries?

Some of the industries that Exploding Topics’ study indicates to grow substantially over the next several years are as follows:

1. Biotech: Innovative solutions for health, agriculture, food, energy, and the environment are being developed by biotech startups by utilising advancements in genomics, synthetic biology, CRISPR, AI, and nanotechnology. Biotech startups include Ginkgo Bioworks, which engineers microorganisms for a variety of applications, Mammoth Biosciences, which creates CRISPR-based diagnostics and medicines, and DNA Nudge, which uses DNA testing to deliver personalized nutrition advice.

2. Digital Innovation in Africa: Thanks to its youthful population, high mobile penetration rate, widespread internet access, and spirit of entrepreneurship, Africa is becoming a hotspot for digital innovation. A few industries that are expanding and innovating quickly are finance, e-commerce, tech, agritech, health tech, and mobility. 

Some examples of digital innovation startups are Twiga Foods, which connects farmers and vendors through a mobile platform; Zipline, which delivers medical supplies by drones; SafeBoda, which provides safe and reasonably priced motorcycle taxi services; and Flutterwave, which offers payment solutions throughout Africa. Jumia, on the other hand, is Africa’s largest online marketplace.

3. Green tech: Green tech companies are tackling the problems with waste management, pollution, climate change, and energy access that have an impact on the environment and society. Green tech businesses are providing a range of solutions, including carbon capture, reforestation, waste management, clean cooking, renewable energy, and water purification. 

A few instances of green tech startups are Majik Water, which harvests water from the atmosphere; KOKO Networks, which provides clean cooking fuel; Komaza, which plants trees for smallholder farmers; M-KOPA, which offers solar-powered home systems; and Mr. Green Africa, which recycles plastic waste.

The Startup Landscape in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities 

Africa has a plethora of untapped potential and business and innovation opportunities. Africa is drawing interest from domestic and foreign investors, businesses, and politicians due to its youthful and expanding population, rising internet and mobile penetration, and thriving digital ecosystem.

But there are also a lot of obstacles and difficulties in Africa that prevent startups from developing and remaining viable. The competitive and dynamic global market has a number of challenges for African businesses to overcome, ranging from finance limits and talent shortages to regulatory hurdles and infrastructure gaps.

The rapid expansion of finance is one of the most obvious trends in the African startup scene. In 2021, local and foreign investors contributed over $4.3 billion to African businesses, as per Google’s 2021 Africa Developer Ecosystem report. Infact, that is 1.5 times what it was the previous year.

he continent is not seeing growth equally; the four nations with the highest concentration of software engineers are experiencing the highest rates of growth. In actuality, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria received 81% of all venture capital funding funded in Africa.

But even with this remarkable expansion, raising money remains a major obstacle for African companies. A report published by the United Nations Technology Bank lists a few of these difficulties as follows:

  1. Absence of local investors: Foreign investors, who may have different expectations, tastes, and risk appetites than local ones, provide the majority of investment for African businesses. Furthermore, foreign investors might not be as familiar with the regional markets as they are, which could make it more difficult for them to interact with or mentor African businesses.
  1. Lack of later-stage funding: Although there has been a notable rise in early-stage funding in recent years, later-stage money is still hard to come by and is very competitive. Many African startups consequently have difficulty growing or exiting profitably.
  1. Lack of diversity: Male investors and entrepreneurs make up the majority of the funding scene in Africa, and they typically support firms headed by men. Just 17% of supported firms in Africa have at least one female co-founder, according to a Briter Bridges survey. Furthermore, women make up only 13% of active investors in Africa.

To address these challenges, some possible solutions include:

  1. Helping local investors: In order to develop and maintain the African startup ecosystem, local investors might be extremely important. For African startups, they can offer not just money but also networks, market research, and coaching. As a result, it’s critical to encourage the expansion and development of regional investors, including impact investors, corporate venturing arms, venture capital funds, and angel networks.
  1. Increasing the diversity of their funding sources: In addition to venture capital, African businesses can look into grants, revenue-based financing, bootstrapping, crowdsourcing, and bootstrapping. For various kinds of startups, these resources may provide additional adaptability, affordability, or accessibility.
  1. Encouraging diversity and inclusion: Innovation and social impact cannot be fostered without diversity and inclusion. Thus, it is critical to encourage female investors and founders as well as other underrepresented groups in order to foster diversity and inclusion in the financial landscape.

Startup Success and Failure Statistics

The average survival rate of companies in Africa in 2020 was 75% after one year, 46% after three years, and 25% after five years, per a Statista analysis. These figures represent a modest decrease from the 78%, 50%, and 33% global average, respectively.

The study also discovered that the rate of launch failure differed throughout African nations. At 75%, Ethiopia and Rwanda had the greatest failure rates, followed by Ghana (71%), Uganda (70%) and Ethiopia. Kenya, on the other hand, had the lowest failure rate at 24%, followed by Nigeria at 29% and South Africa at 28%.

A lack of product-market fit, cash flow problems, competition, pricing concerns, team dynamics, legal issues, and difficulties acquiring customers are the primary causes of startup failure in Africa. 

Startups need to regularly test and validate their assumptions, keep an eye on their cash flow and burn rate, stand out from the competition, optimize their pricing strategy, hire and retain people, adhere to regulations, and gain and keep customers if they want to boost their chances of success.

Africa offers a plethora of potential and problems for startups. It is crucial to stay up to date on the newest trends, take note of other people’s triumphs and failures, and grab any possibilities that present themselves if you’re an investor, entrepreneur, or other participant in the African tech ecosystem.

Why invest in African Tech Startups: Pioneers of Innovation and Growth 

Africa, sometimes called the “next frontier market,” is about to undergo a change that has the potential to drastically alter the nature of the world economy. Africa makes a strong investment case due to its fast expanding population, growing digital access, and enormous potential for economic growth. For companies looking to expand their reach and innovate in established countries such as the US and Europe, the vibrant startup environment presents a compelling opportunity. Here are a few arguments in favour of the theory that now is a good moment to invest in African digital startups:

Growing Consumer Market

Africa’s potential as a future economic superpower is fueled by its population increase. Africa is home to little more than one billion people, with an astounding 50% of them being under the age of twenty. 

Over the past three decades, Africa’s population has increased continuously at a pace of 2.42% per year, in contrast to other regions where population growth has halted. Africa is expected to have at least 2.4 billion people living there by 2050, and that number might rise to an astounding 4.2 billion people in the next century.

Africa is presented by this demographic profile as a sizable consumer market with unrealized potential and a developing middle class. Leading companies in developed markets looking for fresh chances for expansion are becoming more and more intrigued by Africa’s expanding populace.

Economic Growth Potential

With a number of its nations ranked among the fastest-growing in the world, Africa’s GDP growth rate is encouraging. Factors including industrialization, urbanisation, and the expansion of internet access are responsible for this growth.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a revolutionary trade deal, is one of the most promising projects. With 54 African countries included, the AfCFTA was established on January 1, 2021, and is regarded as the largest free trade area in the world. 

According to World Bank estimates, the AfCFTA will increase intra-African exports by more than 81% and increase Africa’s wealth by $450 billion by 2035. The UN Economic Commission for Africa claims that this single-market trade agreement has the potential to push the continent’s economy towards $29 trillion by the year 2050.

Increasing Digital and Mobile Access

Africa has seen a digital revolution in the last 20 years as more people there have access to mobile phones and the internet. 

The adoption of mobile phones and internet access have improved dramatically as a result of investments made by businesses such as MTN, Orange, Vodacom/Vodafone, and Airtel, especially in mobile broadband. According to the World Bank, 30% of sub-Saharan Africans utilised the Internet in 2020, up from just 1% in 2000 and 6% in 2010.

A fresh wave of growth-oriented tech businesses has emerged in Africa as a result of the continent’s improved connectivity. A substantial change in Africa’s economic environment is being brought about by these businesses, which are using digital solutions to address regional issues and generate employment.

Supportive Ecosystem for African Tech Startups

International organisations and African governments have realised how critical it is to support startup ecosystems in recent years. Venture capital funds, incubators, and accelerators are a few examples of initiatives that have evolved to offer entrepreneurs vital help. 

According to a GSM Association (GSMA) research, Africa’s startup ecosystem is booming, with over 600 operational innovation hubs, incubators, and accelerators. The bulk of these centres are around the continent, mostly in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and Nigeria.

Positive Investment Outcomes and Opportunities

Tech startups in Africa are positioned strategically to serve expanding consumer markets. Startups can gain a major market share as the middle class grows and consumer behaviour changes, which could mean big returns for investors. 

Investments in tech firms in Africa are getting more and more successful. Investor trust in the startup environment on the continent is increasing as more success stories surface. 

With values above $1 billion, a few firms have become unicorns, demonstrating the possibility of significant returns on investment. Venture capital firms, individual investors, and corporate investors seeking to diversify their holdings and seize prospects for rapid growth are benefactors of this trend.

A UN analysis states that between 2006 and 2011, Africa’s return on foreign direct investment (FDI) was an astounding 11.4%, whereas the global average was 7.1%. This shows that taking on more risk can result in bigger profits, which makes Africa a desirable place for risk-taking investors.

Read Also: 20 Technology Trends in 2024 that will Blow Your Mind Away

Why Should You Attend the Africa Tech Startup Summit?

Attending computer conferences has grown more crucial for individuals trying to keep current as the tech sector continues to change. However, the following are some justifications for going to the Africa Tech startup summit:

By giving you insights into new technologies and market trends, tech conferences like the forthcoming Africa Tech startup summit will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Attending seminars and workshops like the Africa Tech startup summit will provide you with up-to-date knowledge on the newest technologies and practices in the area. 

Also, you can see how the industry will develop in the future, which will help you plan ahead and get ready for any changes that may come.

Learn From Industry Experts And Thought Leaders

Attending tech conferences like the Africa Tech startup summit offers a singular chance to gain knowledge from professionals and influential figures in the field.

Presenters during sessions and keynote addresses are frequently subject-matter specialists who offer insightful analysis of the newest developments in technology and fashion. 

You can develop new skills that will help you succeed in your profession and obtain a greater understanding of the industry by attending these events.

Expand Your Professional Network

The chance to grow your professional network is one of the biggest benefits of going to the Africa Tech startup summit.

Meeting and establishing connections with experts in your area can help you develop relationships that could lead to partnerships, collaborations, and new work opportunities.

Happy hours and meet-and-greets are examples of networking events that might offer beneficial chances to establish connections with people in the field.

Gain Insights Into The Latest Tools And Techniques

Workshops and training sessions are common examples of experiential learning opportunities offered by the Africa Tech startup summit. You can learn more about the newest instruments and methods employed in the industry by doing this.

You can obtain real-world experience and useful skills by taking part in these activities, which will benefit you in your present or future career.

Discover New Career Opportunities And Job Prospects

Tech conferences like the Africa Tech startup summit are a terrific place to look for new job openings and career opportunities. There are job boards and career fairs at several conferences where attendees can meet possible employers.

Additionally, you could find out about employment openings that aren’t publicly published by networking with other professionals in your sector.

Recharge And Be Inspiration By The Tech Community

One excellent technique to rejuvenate and gain inspiration from the IT community is by attending tech conferences like Africa Tech startup summit.

By surrounding oneself with like-minded people who are passionate about the sector, you can get fresh perspectives and ideas.

Other African start-ups that are making waves on the continent

Technology innovation is beginning to affect numerous areas in Africa, including finance, energy, agriculture, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, education, and many more. To assist the continent in overcoming its developmental obstacles, a large number of tech businesses are rising. Some these start-ups are as follows:

Kobo360 (Nigeria): A platform for freight logistics that helps shippers, truck drivers, and cargo recipients create a productive supply chain. The purpose of Kobo360 is to make goods transportation easier.

Twiga (Kenya): A business-to-business (B2B) supply platform that links farmers with millions of small and medium-sized vendors in African cities using a mobile-based, cashless system. Twiga links farmers and traders with reputable, contemporary markets.

DabaDoc, a Moroccan company, has created a platform that enables the booking of doctor appointments instantly. DabaDoc greatly expedites the process of finding a doctor by bringing together millions of patients and thousands of clinicians throughout Africa.

Yoco is a technology firm based in South Africa that develops products and services to make payments easier. Its mission is to help small businesses grow economically.

Tech start-ups may be the engine of Africa’s growth even if it’s unlikely that they would be able to solve all of the continent’s development issues quickly. 

African nations should thus take greater steps to assist them, including creating entrepreneurial ecosystems, offering suitable skill development programmes, enacting laws that simplify business processes, maintaining a stable political and economic environment, providing incubators and accelerators, subsidising infrastructure like office space, and so forth. Africa won’t gain fully from tech start-ups till then.

You can as well check out: Top 10 AI Innovations That will Change Our Lives in 2024-2025  

Exploring Investment Opportunities in Africa

For companies who are serious about disruptive innovation and have an eye towards the future, Africa presents a growth opportunity. For firms in highly competitive developed countries searching for fresh growth markets, corporate venture presents a unique chance to invest in early-stage digital startups in Africa. 

On the other hand, breaking into the African market calls for an informed partner with familiarity with the continent’s investment environment. 

Furthermore, Before fully entering an African market themselves, corporations can gain significant insights and direction from a corporate venture capital partner based on a strong investment thesis. This helps the companies understand certain verticals and service sectors. This guarantees that carefully chosen African investments are in line with long-term innovation objectives.

Collaborations and fund deployment by a partner with well-established networks and contacts inside the African digital startup ecosystem are benefits. 

An ideal partner will be able to properly handle every facet of your investment portfolio and have experience building early-stage technology firms. You can as well check more of our contents on silicon Africa for more insights on the African tech startups. 

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Oluwatobi Olowe
Oluwatobi Olowe

Tobi Olowe has over 3 years of experience as a content writer specializing in Tech discoveries, site optimization, building content that rank well and boosting overall site performance.

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