Africa’s Tech Revolution
There is a lot of tech talent and innovative start-ups from African nations with over 400 tech hubs that range from traditional roles in software engineering to new pathways such as mobile banking and blockchain technology. According to the International Finance Corporation, “Africa’s tech revolution is accelerating. In 2017, investment in tech start-ups across the continent topped $195 million. The number of funded start-ups grew by 8.9 percent. Total funding of African tech ventures grew by 51 percent compared to 2016, taking investment into African start-ups to an all-time high.” The International Finance Corporation reported that this is largely due to start-up spaces, like incubators and accelerators, in major cities such as Nairobi, Lagos, and Johannesburg, “In 2015 there were fewer than 120 hubs in Africa. New research carried out by the trade association GSMA in early 2018 shows that the number of active tech hubs across the continent has now risen to 442, with a dozen more due to launch this year. Forty-five percent of these tech hubs are concentrated in five countries: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco. The cities of Lagos, Nairobi, and Cape Town have emerged as internationally recognized technology centers. Still, the tech landscape is decidedly pan-African, with at least one active tech hub in almost every country.” In Forbes, Bill Gate said that the impactful tech boom in Africa is due in part to an increase in access to mobile phones and to a youthful population, “The African entrepreneurs driving startup booms in the Silicon Savannahs from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Lagos and Nairobi are just as young – in chronological age, but also in outlook. The thousands of businesses they’re creating are already changing daily life across the continent.”
Promoting Africans Who Have Found Success in Tech
Students at 42 Silicon Valley recently launched Africa in Tech with the goal to promote Africans who have been successful in tech as well as provide networking and mentorship opportunities. Africa in Tech was started by two 42 students, Houssein Abil and Bassirou Rabo Hima. Bassirou acknowledged that the tech scene in Africa is often overlooked, “Africa is not one country but one continent. It has varied markets, diverse cultures, and different regional systems. In fact, to be successful, it is very important to reshape the way we see and approach Africa and to adapt our products, apps, and solutions to the context. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, proclaimed that the future of the world will be built in Africa. He is right, the reasons are simple, Africa is the fastest growing economy in the world. Africa has the youngest population of the world. Africa has also big business opportunities.” According to Houssein, Africa in Tech is an open source platform where you can build and contribute to projects that address tech problems in Africa via hackathons. Africa in Tech also hopes to connect American companies that build solutions for Africa with African companies interested in the tech market in the United States. At 42, we are fortunate to have a diverse community of students who are passionate about creating awareness about these important issues in tech.
42’s Africa in Tech Speaker Series
The first Africa in Tech speaker was 42’s Co-Founder and Managing Director Kwame Yamgnane. His presentation focused on the evolution of education and he shared with the crowd his reflections based on his own life experiences as an educator, “The reason why Africa is so important in the world is because everything is going to be about diversity. Everything is about diversity because diversity brings creativity and creativity is the basic oil of the digital era. So we are here at Africa in Tech to talk about how to create new services and how to create incredible things that can change the world…when we are talking about open education, for example at 42, what we try to do is first remove all the barriers so everyone can have access to the school…this ensures that you will have a great diversity of people, and from that diversity we are going to try to create big things.” As for their future plans, Africa in Tech has an amazing lineup of speakers that will discuss issues related to technology and Africa. The Africa in Tech Speaker Series is held on the last Wednesday of every month starting at 7 pm and is open to the public. For more information, check out Africa in Tech’s website and watch the video below.