The next Silicon Valley? Abuja

The development of a startup certainly depends on the context in which it is born. Countries such as the United States, Hong Kong, Japan or Singapore provide those who want to invest valuable human resources, efficient infrastructures, solid economies and business-friendly policies. Conditions that are often, for many reasons, lacking in African countries. However in recent years, thanks in part to excellent international collaboration projects, a number of startups have sprung up in Africa that are having good luck and which, not to be excluded, may one day arrive in Europe. According to research carried out by the Food Sustainability Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, if North America is confirmed as the first area in the world both for total investments, equal to 1.7 billion dollars, and for average funding given to young companies and ideas, equivalent to 7.2 million dollars, Europe is the second one for total capital raised but at a great distance, with 312 million, ahead of Asia (308 million), Oceania (33 million), South America (19 million) and Africa (17 million).

An example of African entrepreneurial success is Mukuru, which has grown to become a global fintech power. Initially, the Mukuru app allowed family and friends abroad to send fuel and food vouchers to struggling families in Zimbabwe, but text-based technology had a certain barrier to entry because the service depended on local operators. Mukuru has adapted over the years to meet the needs of its customers and has launched the Mukuru Card, a simplified account that allows members to access financial services purely online: deposits, savings and withdrawals from shops and associated banks. 

In practice, from a modern, localised Money Transfer, Mukuru has evolved into an international digital wallet. The example shows that success does not happen overnight, but rather requires grit, resilience and determination to meet challenges, perhaps basing their ideas on existing infrastructure, using basic technologies that are still able to make the most of their often unexpressed potential. 

Most of the internet cables in the Mediterranean are routed through the main cities in Africa, this means that the infrastructural bases are there, they just need to be defined.

It is not just a question of technology, but of designing robust solutions that address the critical points and empower people. The background to this fervent panorama is also international investment. Among the most recent, Ingressive Capital, a venture capital company, has doubled its investment to a total of $10 million to support high-growth technology startups across Africa. 

According to data from the GSM Association, by the end of 2019, Nigeria was leading African countries with the largest tech hubs, the incubators that accelerate the continent’s most promising business ideas. Africa is also experiencing an important rise in the professional figure of developers. A trend that has led Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, to invest 100 million in development centres, which will employ 500 Africans by 2023.

Antonino Caffo has been involved in journalism, particularly technology, for fifteen years. He is interested in topics related to the world of IT security but also consumer electronics. Antonino writes for the most important Italian generalist and trade publications. You can see him, sometimes, on television explaining how technology works, which is not as trivial for everyone as it seems.