Big cities in Africa foster an enormous technological potential. The continent currently has over 300 tech hubs in 93 cities, across 42 of its countries. Startups that accelerate Africa’s technological evolution, such as Andela, provide funding and support for a multitude of initiatives that might end up writing the future of technology.
According to Jeremy Johnson, the founder and CEO of Andela, the continent will emerge as a powerful and highly significant player on the tech scene. Technology and its future potential will be developed, and has already started emerging, in cities such as Nairobi, Lagos or Kampala. 10 years ago, Africa had an unimpressive and somewhat surprising number of 0 hubs, according to the 300 that exist today.
Nigeria and Kenya are well-developed centers of start-up activity and fast growing innovation hubs today. Companies around these countries but also across the continent as a whole are increasingly comfortable with teams that are widely distributed, Johnson argues. “That’s a major trend in the tech industry that I think is flattening out the world even more. It has also gotten a lot of people interested in Africa,” said Johnson.
Financially backed by The Chan-Zuckerberg initiative, Andela currently has about 400 developers, operating out of offices in Lagos and Nairobi. A third office will soon be established in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. This expansion is mostly taking place due to an expansion, in turn, of the tech interests across Africa. Besides ecommerce and mobile money companies, the sectors of agriculture and solar technology have started to pick up the slack.
For instance, Ignitia, a 2015 startup based in Ghana has developed a weather prediction model, based on hyper-local updates, helping farmers in the west of the contitent to better predict water availability. This system would allow them to manage their daily activities better, to optimize food production and improve yields. Ignitia’s forecasts are highly accurate, using remote-sensing data and managing the process almost thoroughly in an automatic manner, therefore avoiding the costs of building costly infrastructure.
Finally, the growing interest in entrepreneurship has been facilitated due to an increasingly educated population and an enhanced access to technology. The influx of new resources has been channeling, lately, into new businesses, a multitude of startups and an impressive number of social enterprises and initiatives.
However, keeping up with the fast pace of international (or “Western”), technological innovation is the true challenge for Africa. Despite the many internal initiatives trying to solve the continent’s issues from inside, gaps such as international awareness and funding persist. All things considered, Africa’s technological interests are expanding and seem to be on the right track, while also driving its future potential further.