African Startups Are Defying The Global Tech Slowdown
By Lily Kuo | From Changing The African Conversation
African startups may prove the exception to a slowdown in funding for tech companies around the world.
Startups raised $27.3 billion globally, down from 30% from the previous quarter, according to the research firm CB Insights. Last year, startups on the African continent brought in more than $185.7 million, according to a report from Disrupt Africa. And Kenyan startups especially saw their best year in fundraising since 2010. Kenyan startups raised over $47.4 million last year, according to the publication.
Companies from Kenya’s so-called “Silicon Savannah” like M-Kopa; a solar energy provider for rural areas, Bitpesa; a bitcoin trading platform, and Kopo Kopo; a merchant payment system, attracted the bulk of investor attention. The makers of the mobile modem, BRCK, announced last week that it has raised $3 million in December from former AOL heads Steve and Jean Case, as well as media company TED, and Jim Sorenson. This is on top of $1.2 million in seed funding last year.
For years, Kenya has been projected to be one of the continent tech leaders, alongside Nigeria and South Africa. Over half of the population of East Africa’s largest economy has access to the internet. It’s home to an expanding pool of mobile phone users, a network of incubators and startup spaces, and a legacy of previous successes like the mobile money platform M-Pesa and the crowd-sourced crisis mapping app, Ushahidi, used for search and rescue during Haiti’s 2012 earthquake as well as documenting sexual harassment in Egypt. Google’s Eric Schmidt said in 2013 that he believed Kenya would be the “African leader” in technology.
That may be slowly happening. The country’s tech sector got a boost when US president Barack Obama opened the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi in July last year. Soon after, General Electric opened a workshop for technical and manufacturing skills. Microsoft chose Nairobi for the global launch of its latest operating system. International media began hailing Kenya as the world’s latest unlikely tech hub.
Read more at Changing The African Conversation