Tech 2020: Hopes high Africa's first unicorn

Startups, incubation hubs, digital citizen registry and escalation of business intelligence will be tech factors that will dominate Africa's 2020.

It was a matter of time before the African continent revealed its first indigenous unicorn. Just recently, Visa invested US$ 200 million in the Nigerian fintech firm Interswitch, totalling its valuation to a US$ 1 billion mark. Already by April this year, there were 44 startups that had raised over US$ 1 million each, a turn of fortunes for African entrepreneurs.

These developments have been induced by progressive tech development in various industries including access to internet, more tech talent in the continent and favourable business environments.

Here are some of the predictions for Africa in the coming year.

From startups to enterprises

Investors are taking African based tech businesses and startups increasingly seriously, with estimates that African companies have already raised a total of US$ 1 billion, even before the year ends. Some of these companies have rapidly graduated from startups to enterprises and now operate in various African countries. Lori Systems, a logistic truck company re-located to Nigeria in October and quickly raised its Series A from Nigerian and Chinese investors. Swvl, an Egypt-based bus booking service raised US$ 42 million to expand their services in East Africa. CarePay, a digital health payment platform, raised approximately US$ 45 million in May this year.

A report by the World Bank titled Kenya Economic Update, suggests that Kenya is in a favourable position to push its startups to become enterprises: "Kenya's impressive performance in churning out innovative new startup stage digital ventures needs to be matched with higher rates of success in enabling these startups to rapidly grow - creating enterprises that will have a big impact on overall economic growth and job creation."

This includes improving access to capital for startups and reviewing existing taxation and procurement policies which are not tailored for the unique start up business models, the report added.

To continue reading this article register now