Nigeria has led the growing number of technology start-up ecosystem across the West Africa sub-region by 55 as at February 2018, up from 23 in 2016 while it emerged among the top three countries in Africa that attracted $560 million in venture capital (VC) funding in 2017.
The VC funding raised by African tech start-ups in 2017 surpassed $366.8 million raised in 2016 according to Collin Collon, general partner at Partech Ventures. The top 3 markets: South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria absorbed 76 per cent of the total funding, down from 81 per cent in 2016, he said.
Nigeria attracted $115 million (20 per cent of total), representing a plus five per cent growth year-on-year (YoY); Kenya attracted $147 million (26 per cent of total), showing a strong +58 per cent growth YoY; while South Africa attracted $168 million in funding (30 per cent of total investment), showing a +74 per cent growth YoY.
Meanwhile, study by the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Programme found that there were 142 active technology hubs across West Africa as of February 2018, compared to 84 in 2016. Nigeria and Ghana account for a large share of tech hubs in the sub-region, although Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal are now into double-digit figures in number of active tech hubs.
Some leading tech hubs in the sub-region include 5K Startups (Côte d’Ivoire), MEST (Ghana), Cc Hub (Nigeria) and CTIC (Senegal). The GSM Association, through the Ecosystem Accelerator programme is actively supporting the growth and development of the tech start-up ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa through the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, and by facilitating partnerships and collaboration between start-ups and mobile operators.
The partnerships bring the most impactful mobile solutions to the people and places that need them most, generating the greatest social impact. Four applicants from West Africa received funding in the first and second rounds of the Innovation Fund.
Apart from Nigeria, other countries doing well in the tech start-up ecosystem include Ghana (28), Cote D’Ivoire (13), Senegal (12), Benin (8), Burkina Faso (7), Togo (5), Mali (4), Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone (3), Guinea and Cape Verde (2) and Nigeria (1) only as at February 2018.
The rapid adoption of mobile services and the funding and infrastructure gaps in the provision of essential services presents an opportunity for local innovators to create digital solutions that address a wide range of social and economic challenges across different countries in the sub-region.
GSMA Accelerator Programme defines tech hubs as physical spaces designed to foster and support tech start-ups. These include incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, fab labs, makerspaces, hackerspaces, and other innovation centres. Across Africa, there are 442 tech hubs. The leading country in Africa by number of hubs remains South Africa with 59 active hubs, Nigeria (55), Egypt (33), and Kenya (31).
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