5 Remarkable Creations That Represent Africa’s Emerging Tech Industry


Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft

The AHRLAC is Africa’s first home-grown military aircraft, and it first took off on Aug 13, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. What makes this plane special is that it took three years to develop and is used for anti-poaching missions, border patrols, anti-trafficking, anti-piracy, anti-insurgent, as well as anti-terror operations. This is a major milestone in the continent’s aviation history.

Nigeria’s Largest E-Commerce Startups Show Signs of an Imminent Digital Boom in the Country

Recently, tech startups in Nigeria have been piquing the interest of tech giants, investors and venture capitalists all across the globe. As these startups continue their climb to success, it seems like the economic landscape in the African country is starting to show signs of a highly anticipated digital boom.

A number of tech entrepreneurs have pointed to Nigeria as the go-to country for a tech business hoping to lay roots in Africa.

The success of the rapidly growing e-commerce startups Mall for Africa, Jumia and Konga is a clear sign as to why Nigeria is seen as a tech hot spot that’s on the brink of igniting a continental digital firestorm.

Mall for Africa was launched back in 2011 by two Nigerian brothers Chris and Tope Folayan. The e-commerce site focuses on selling American goods to middle- and upper-class consumers in Nigeria. In 2014 alone, Mall for Africa brought in $17 million in sales and teamed up with major retailers like Barneys, Bloomingdale’s and Best Buy.

Jumia and Konga concentrate more on the general consumer market in Nigeria rather than the niche audience Mall of Africa is going after.

Together, both of the online retailers have obtained more than $300 million in VC (venture capital) funding.

This trend was driven partially by the growing amount of spending power in Africa, especially in Nigeria.

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute said that consumer spending in Africa is expected to exceed $1 trillion in the next five years. Nigeria is already seeing an impressive $400 billion in consumer spending.

McKinsey estimates that tapping into that growing market could lead to more than $75 billion being generated in e-commerce revenue alone by 2025.

Konga CEO Sim Shagaya says that the market has always shown an interest in more technology and e-commerce but simply didn’t have the infrastructure to back it.

“The energy is already out there,” Shagaya told Fortune. “Africa does not lack an abundance of people to buy things, sell things or move them around. What Africa lacks is a 21st century operating system to make it all work.”

With more investors, major tech companies and venture capitalists seeking opportunities in the Nigerian market, however, an Internet boom seems imminent.

Konga and Jumia, while competitors in the market, are both leading the way for Nigeria to unlock its full economic potential in cyberspace because they are proving just how profitable Nigeria and the rest of the African continent can be.

They are also showing tech giants that it is possible to overcome the country’s unique obstacles.

A series of events have had some entrepreneurs wary of tapping into Nigeria’s market.

The country’s president recently fired the central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, because he blew the whistle on $20 billion in missing state oil revenue.

Not too long after that, news of the Boko Haram kidnapping shocked the globe, and the country’s presidential election was delayed for six weeks.

In summary, Shagaya says, the problem is corruption.

“In ways, the country’s challenges create the opportunities,” Shagaya said. “But there are some problems you can’t get away from, like $20 billion missing and hundreds of girls kidnapped. The common denominator in all this is corruption.”

Either way, the entrepreneurs behind these incredibly successful e-commerce startups are focusing on the country’s incredible amount of untapped potential.

“We know it has more potential than where it is now,” Shagaya noted. “Creating jobs and successful 21st century ventures will serve that. We will make money, but in doing so, we will also fix problems.”

Eight Female Entrepreneurs Prepare to Bring African Startups to Washington, D.C.

Eight female entrepreneurs from Africa are preparing to pitch their innovative ideas to an esteemed group of angel investors and fellow entrepreneurs in America in hopes they can receive the support and financial backing they need to take their businesses to the next level.

The entire African continent has become a breeding ground for startups and young entrepreneurs and now She Leads Africa is bringing eight of those emerging entrepreneurs to Washington, DC, for the Diaspora Demo.

The Diaspora Demo is one of the largest gatherings of investors and entrepreneurs from all across the globe who have their eyes locked on the innovative companies that are coming out of African.

The social impact pitch competition will kick off next week and based on the eight young women that She Leads Africa will be bringing to the competition, there will be an abundance of creative business ideas that will have investors digging into their pockets.

One of the ladies will be pitching her business AfriTrade.

AfriTrade is an “intuitive online securities platform customized for the retail segment in Nigeria and abroad to trade on the Nigerian Stock Exchange,” according to the Tribune.

Then there is Eve & Tribe, the clothing brand designed specifically for the African woman who wants affordable, contemporary clothing that is made with her specific body type in mind.

Thandos is another company with fashion at its center but it has a focus on the creator rather than the consumer.

Thandow provides aspiring African artists with a platform to create women’s footwear designs.

Other companies from the eight entrepreneurs include: Mother’s Delivery Kit, which will provide women in Nigeria with the supplies they need to ensure a safe and hygienic childbirth process; Tastemakers Africa, which will become the world’s first mobile app geared specifically towards upscale, curated experiences throughout the African continent; Zuvaa, an online shopping experience that will give African fashion labels the platform they need to boost sales and revenue; Loue 1 Voiture, which will allow users to reserve cars from different rental companies in Morocco; and Tomato Jos, which creates and distributes tomato paste in West African for the domestic market.

In addition to other individual entrepreneurial greats, major partners will be at the event hoping to see what could some day become the next generation of innovative businesses.

AllAfrica.com, ThoughtWorks, Evernote, The Africa Channel, Africa 2.0, Impact Hub, Toniic and many more are supporting the Diaspora Demo day and making it possible to significantly extend the platform that these emerging entrepreneurs would have had otherwise.


Africa’s Age of Innovation Could Make Continent a Major Economic Power by 2063

Over the past few days, tech experts and global authorities have urged African countries to embrace innovation and technology in order to transform the entire continent into a global, economic powerhouse.

Thanks to a new wave of tech startups and government investments into these new businesses, experts believe Africa could be on the verge of an age of great innovation.

Companies like M-Pesa, the Kenya-based mobile-phone payment system, have already managed to boost economies in countries all across the continent.

According to Leadership.ng, M-Pesa has already “decreased informal savings in the country by 15 percent, increased the frequency of transfers and remittances by 35 percent, and increased usage of banking services by 58 percent beyond the levels of 2006.”

M-Pesa has since expanded beyond the boundaries of Kenya and into countries like Tanzania and South Africa.

Experts say this is just the start of what can be a magnificent burst of growth for many African countries.

The next step is for the continent to continue investing in people-driven technologies and continue discussing how to properly harness the vast knowledge and impressive skill set that many African entrepreneurs possess.

“Investment in skills, technology, knowledge and innovation will ensure democratic and responsive governance that can deliver effective public services and facilitate universal access to basic services, such as food and nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter, health and education,” said African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the closing of the ninth annual African Economic Conference (AEC).

The conference lasted for three days and brought business leaders, academics and economists from all over the globe together in order to discuss how to launch Africa into the global power it has the potential to be.

Experts at the conference hope to focus on boosting youth employment and furthering the adaption of new technologies across the continent.

Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, acting chief economist and vice president of African Development Bank, said now is the time for Africa’s brightest innovators to “stop being lazy” when it comes to innovation.

“We need to stop being lazy analysts and take our challenges for ourselves; stop wasting resources and implement our own ideas,” he said at the conference. “Africa must first understand where we are, what brought us here and then try to understand what to do differently to bring different results.”

Ban Ki-moon, the eighth and current secretary-general of the United Nations, couldn’t have agreed more with those sentiments.

“Technology can be used as a great power to change your life, to change our lives, particularly the life and future of Africa,” he said during his visit to the offices of the nonprofit technology company Ushahidi and its offshoot iHub in Nairobi, Kenya.

iHub/Ushahidi is considered a technology incubator and has already helped many young creators and developers implement new ideas in order to “promote great transformation for our society.”

He went on to say that Africa already has the “power of creativity” and now it’s up to those young innovators to use technology and creativity to change the world.

“When we use your creativity and ideas, I can bet you that the productivity and greater progress of the country will be at least 50 percent more than in the past,” he added.

iHub/Ushahidi has already been responsible for over 150 startups and garnered more than 14,000 members.

The experts who gathered at the AEC plan to continue fostering innovative solutions and working closely with governments and private sectors to boost Africa’s economic growth.

With a vast majority of Africa’s population still under the age of 20, these tech experts and academics believe investing in the younger generation will be critical to the continent’s 50-year plan to make Africa a global powerhouse by 2063.


Text First, Call 911 Later: This Could Be the New Protocol for Carjacking Victims

Shut down car with text message

It’s hard to believe but new, developing technologies could have carjacking victims reaching for their phones to send a text before they even think about calling the police.

It’s all because of a Nairobi-based car security company called Sunrise Tracking.

The company has developed new technology that allows consumers to take matters into their own hands when their car is stolen.

In addition to being able to track the vehicle’s location, consumers would also be able to shut down the vehicle and prevent thieves from getting too far.

There are many services that allow the everyday person to track their car’s location, but the ability to shut down the vehicle from a simple text message is quite revolutionary.

Currently, this type of technology is reserved for police forces and often used on bait cars.

Bait cars are vehicles planted by police in order to capture would-be car thieves before they can target everyday civilians.

Sunrise Tracking founder, 23-year-old Kelvin Macharia Kuria, explained the technology to African Start-Up.

“Once a stop command has been sent to the vehicle, the hardware understands the language of that command and immediately cuts acceleration fuel function,” he said. “The vehicle immobilizes immediately until a resume command is send to mobilize back the car.”

It’s unusual to see such a young entrepreneur coming up with such innovative technologies for security, but the young entrepreneur quickly explained why this was so important to him.

“The reason I decided to venture into the business of security is simply because immediately after high school one of my relatives was carjacked,” he told African Start-Up. “And it was unfortunate we were not able to recover the vehicle.”

Later his own office was broken into and the thieves managed to escape with tons of electronics.

At that point the push for better security technologies became even more personal.

Today, Macharia Kuria has managed to obtain more than 500 clients.

While he hopes to continue to grow his clientele, he is also very well aware of the obstacles he will face trying to grow the business in Kenya.

“Being a young entrepreneur of course is a very huge challenge in terms of financials, in terms of your starting a business,” he said. “The other challenge that we are facing currently is that not many people are willing to adopt the locally made products within Kenya … Carjacking and robbery in Kenya and particularly in Nairobi is so high, but since security is so sensitive clients opt to go for big and international companies having in mind only such companies can give them better quality service hence killing the local innovation products.”

There could be yet another obstacle he will have to face as well.

While the ability to shut down a car with nothing more than a text sounds exciting and innovative, technology experts caution that it can be abused in the long run.

“In the past, hackers have exploited security weaknesses in mobile locator devices to monitor movements and patterns of a vehicle and even impersonate it,” said Chris Brauer, the director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London. “In the short term, mobile security devices with mainstream appeal and price points will reduce carjacking and thefts. In the longer term, it all depends on whether the security providers can stay one step ahead of the hackers and thieves.”


Microsoft Gets Behind African Startups as Demo Africa Gains Momentum

Microsoft is keeping a close eye on the innovation and tech-generated startups coming out of Africa lately and the IT giant is hinting at some major opportunities for the company and the emerging entrepreneurs.

Demo Africa aims to connect African startups to the global ecosystem by giving them a substantial platform with financial backing to launch and grow their businesses.

Apparently, Microsoft is on board with the plan and is ready to create serious opportunities for the young software innovators in Africa.

“For African investment it is an event that touches one of the core pillars of our drive around inspiring local economic development in the continent,” said Kabelo Makwane, the managing director of Microsoft SA, according to CNBC Africa.

Demo Africa is an affair that is sweeping the entire continent, but Makwane stressed the importance of seeing so much local participation in Nigeria.

“It is really encouraging because the same could not be said for the past where the momentum was a bit slow,” he said. “We have seen significant growth through public and private sector participation and also international donors and funders that have really risen to the occasion in helping to support these businesses to set up.”

He went on to say that Microsoft is always looking for opportunities in invest in something that will “contribute to real local economic development.”

Needless to say, the startups being launched through Demo Africa are exactly what they’re looking for.

“The first major reason is a very firm statement that Microsoft globally is very serious about Africa and is also very serious about Nigeria in terms of what this country represents in the broader context of the continent,” Makwane added.

Nigeria holds one of the continent’s largest markets, and, to Microsoft, that screams of opportunity.

“There is a nice catchphrase that says ‘Glocal,’ ” Makwane said. “We want to be more Glocal now as opposed to where we were in the past. So this means coming up with solutions and initiatives that are most relevant in a real way that can make a meaningful impact to the Nigerian context.”