Tom Jackson, 5:48 pm AFKI Original
Last week, for the fourth year in a row, the investment community of Africa came together in Cape Town to discuss trends, opportunities and pitfalls with regards to backing African startups. It might not seem that big of a deal, but in the embryonic days of African angel and venture capital, where the vast majority of startups lack access to funding, the signs that a dedicated community of investors is being built are positive.
Tom Jackson, 12:16 pm AFKI Original
Every year, the great and the good of African tech converge on Cape Town to network and discuss the key trends within the sector. Until 2014, startups were barely featured at AfricaCom, but that all changed with the launch of the AHUB that year. This year’s event saw pitches from the 20 startups taking part in the World Bank’s XL Africa accelerator programme, and the chance to experience companies of such quality was refreshing.
Tom Jackson, 5:02 am AFKI Original
A number of African pay-as-you-go solar companies have attracted investment in recent times, and continue to grow at a fast pace. East African company M-KOPA Solar is amongst the best funded, and recently raised another $80 million to be used over the next three years to finance installations in one million homes, on top of the 500,000 already connected. But what makes solar companies in Africa so attractive to large-scale investors.
Tom Jackson, 10:08 am AFKI Original
It was not so long ago that Uber was riding the crest of a wave in Africa, seeing off initial competition from the likes of Snappcab and Zapacab in South Africa, as well as well-funded pan-African competitor Easy Taxi. Yet Uber can now see that the playing field is getting more congested, and its new rivals have more backing than the local clones it had to deal with when it first arrived on African shores.
Tom Jackson, 1:13 pm AFKI Original
Investing in Africa is about to change, with artificial intelligence set to play a crucial role in evolving the sector once and for all. A South African startup plans to invest in a diversified portfolio of domestic and international assets, using machine-learning algorithms to make investment decisions. The process allows the company to discover hidden patterns in big data, which can then be exploited to forecast returns.
Tom Jackson, 1:51 am AFKI Original
The African tech accelerator space and the continent’s fashion industry might seem as far apart as any two spaces could possibly be, but this is changing. There are even accelerator programmes now – one such being Metta in Kenya – for fashion designers to apply tech to their businesses. Tech in fashion is helping to prepare the next generation of designers, assisting them by using information and communication technology to sell more of their products while gaining better visibility.
Tom Jackson, 3:54 am AFKI Original
In a surprising but not unfathomable announcement this week, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) confirmed that the IT infrastructure deployed during the country’s recently nullified presidential election will again be utilised in the approaching re-run on October 26. It has gambled twice on tech at elections, and lost. To gamble a third time, and with the same flawed system, could unleash forces outside of its control.
Tom Jackson, 1:11 am AFKI Original
Technology has not pervaded the legal profession as it has other industries, especially in Africa, where issues with access and affordability remain. There are a small number of African legal-tech startups – backed by international organisations – that are looking to propel that change with the use of technology. From South Africa to Nigeria, the legal profession is in the process of getting a tech boost.
Tom Jackson, 1:52 am AFKI Original
Finding skilled workers is a major barrier to the development of Africa’s fintech space, which is catering to a large unbanked African population through mobile and other avenues, but the market is slowly responding. The University of Cape Town recently became the first university in Africa to offer a specialized fintech degree, and other ed-tech and related startups have come to the party in an effort to fill the fintech skills gap.
Tom Jackson, 10:49 am AFKI Original
While both Kenya and Rwanda admit to the importance of tech development in spurring economic success, the countries have two different approaches. Kenya’s tech development has stalled, mostly on President Kenyatta’s watch, and the government needs to match its rhetoric with action if it is to get it going again. In contrast, Rwanda is earning a reputation as a test kitchen for startups, and a recent report placed the country first in government success in ICT promotion.