Much has been written in the national press about how Nigeria might recover from the economic crises of the past couple of years. Oil revenues have fallen to historic lows, remittances comprise an ever-smaller portion of GDP, and Nigeria’s main agricultural exports no longer form such an essential component of the national economy as they once did.
All of this suggests that the post-recovery economy will look very different from the pre-crisis economy. One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that the transition towards a high-tech economy is well and truly underway. Nigeria already has the largest tech sector in Africa, with much of the country’s high-valued tech companies located in Lagos.
According to the WEF, the top 200 tech startups in the city last year were valued at more than $2 billion, far outstripping the tech startup scene in any other major African city. The skyrocketing valuations of Nigerian tech companies in recent years have, in large part, been driven by dynamic companies that have gone from domestic success towards international ambitions.
With that in mind, let’s look at a snapshot of the Nigerian tech scene by exploring some of the most successful companies that are poised to go global.
Arguably Africa’s foremost e-commerce company, the online retailer Jumia has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Despite some growing pains that led to its earlier overseas ventures into markets such as Cameroon being quickly scaled back, Jumia has received record levels of funding in the past year and now seems ready to expand across the continent.
Offering groceries, meals, hotel bookings, electronics, and fashion, Jumia has since moved its HQ from Lagos to Berlin but retains a massive office in the former. Having spent the past couple of years expanding into 14 African countries, Jumia now looks set for significant expansion in Europe and beyond.
Tek Experts is a leading provider of remote IT support services that has grown exponentially over the past few years, as demand for the 24-7 IT solutions it offers has skyrocketed. Its office in Lagos has gone from holding a team of less than a dozen people to a sprawling corporate complex with hundreds of staff members.
Although Tek Experts was based exclusively in Nigeria until recently, the company now has a presence in the USA, Costa Rica, Rwanda, China, and Bulgaria. Tek Experts was also recently ranked as one of the best companies to work for in Nigeria, for anyone who is looking for a career change.
The digital payment platform Interswitch made headlines all over the world last year when it became Africa’s first-ever tech unicorn, following the acquisition of a minority stake in the company from Visa that pushed Interswitch’s valuation above $1 billion. It is therefore unsurprising that this dynamic company has spread its tentacles far and wide since then.
While launching in several countries, it has also diversified significantly within Nigeria by hacking into emerging high-growth markets such as online sports betting. As explained by the Nigerian online sports betting guide at SBO, Interswitch now powers a significant number of secure wagers and withdrawals in Nigeria’s multi-billion-dollar sports betting industry. As more Nigerians continue to bet on football, basketball, and boxing, expect Interswitch’s revenues to grow further.
Another FinTech firm with serious clout, Flutterwave provides a digital payments infrastructure that connects businesses with banks and lenders across Africa. Following significant success within Nigeria, Flutterwave managed to raise a staggering $35 million in Series-B funding in Silicon Valley in 2020, allowing it to fund its most ambitious expansion to date.
Flutterwave now operates in the US, UK, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa, to name just a few. Flutterwave has also been attracting investors and partners from Wall Street so far in 2021, suggesting that this already international company is truly poised to take over the world.
These high-growth companies represent a small snapshot of the future tech giants that are helping to drive Nigerian growth. Whether these present and future unicorns will reshape the post-recovery economy remains to be seen, but one thing that is certainly clear is that Nigerian tech is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.