Africa probably isn’t the first continent you think of when people mention innovative tech hubs, but the continent has its fair share of digital start-ups and has reportedly sired its first ‘unicorn’.
Nigeria based Africa Internet Group has raised €75m (£58m) from the French insurance group Axa, in a deal that the FT says values it at $1.04bn (£690bn). The company is a diverse conglomerate of tech start-ups, ranging from ecommerce site Jumia to takeway app Hello Food and ride-hailing start-up Easy Taxi.
In that respect they’re mostly carbon copies of business models found in the US and Europe rather than revolutionary new start-ups. But they are serving a market that has been largely ignored by the luminaries of Silicon Valley (and Roundabout), and the company’s valuation is a sign that Africa’s tech industry is on the rise.
There could be plenty more where Africa Internet Group came from. Last month TechCrunch reported that Interswitch, a financial technology (fintech) start-up that specialises in online payments (which is also based in Nigeria) could be headed for the London Stock Exchange this year with a valuation of more than $1bn.
Some more African start-ups that have been tipped for great things include:
Adsbrook, a Ghanaian digital advertising platform. Smartphone use has exploded across Africa, which should prove to be fertile ground for marketers.
Iroko Partners, Nigeria’s answer to Netflix. The start-up’s popular streams of ‘Nollywood’ movies helped it raise a hefty $19m series E funding round last month.
Sendy, an Uber-style on-demand courier service in Kenya. The rising tide of African ecommerce has been a boon for logistics firms.