Kenya is positioning itself as Africa’s technology hub with the construction of multi-million dollar Konza Technology City about 60km south of Nairobi. This is one of many efforts by the government and private sector to transform Kenya into Silicon Savannah.
The success of mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and crowd sourcing platform Ushahidi, as well the establishment of iHub, a co-working space that has become Kenya’s unofficial tech headquarters, have helped to propel Kenya’s technology industry. The sector has overshadowed that of other African countries, attracting numerous foreign entrepreneurs, investors and international media attention.
Mbwana Alliy, founder and managing partner of Savannah Fund, an African focused early stage tech seed fund and accelerator, says that while Kenya holds a lot of potential, it has a “noisy ecosystem” that and can be “distractive”.
Founded in mid-2012, Savannah Fund has invested in 10 startups in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia and two registered in the US. The fund invests in “high-risk, high-return startups” and plans to double its number of investees to 20 by the end of the year.
“We tend to find better startups the further away we go from Nairobi. So Ghana, Uganda have been pretty good as far as deal flow mostly because I think they are not distracted and are focusing on business. There is a lot of noise in the ecosystem here,” says Alliy.
“It’s the same thing I have seen in Silicon Valley. The best startups tend to be the foreigners who come in because they have toiled and… they don’t take anything for granted. So when [Ghana-based company] Ahonya gets here they are like ‘wow M-Pesa, we don’t have this, testing lab…’ They take advantage of everything.”
Alliy told How we made it in Africa that since the launch of Savannah Fund, Kenya’s technology industry has improved in many ways but there is still a long way to go.
Written by Dinfin Mulupi | Read more at How we made it in Africa