Africa’s late arrival to the digital economy comes with certain competitive advantages. It benefits from advances and mistakes already made by Silicon Valley. Its population is younger than that of any other continent. Its marketplace amounts to a new frontier. Its largely untapped labor force presents an appealing prospect for tech-assembly plants.
Safe Motos, the Rwandan start-up initially funded with USD 126,000 is the first and largest motorcycle ride sharing company in Africa. It partners with more than 400 licensed and painstakingly monitored motorcycle-taxi drivers in Kigali, who are likely to make 800,000 trips this year. Gross revenue for 2017 is projected to be USD 1.1M.
The pride of Engineer belongs to a wave of digital entrepreneurs who aim to transform sub-Saharan Africa. Their emergence coincides with the ubiquity of mobile phones throughout the continent, as well as the arrival of high-speed Internet—which, as recently as a decade ago, was rare in most of Africa. During the past few years, tens of millions of dollars in venture capital has flowed from the West into such countries as Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, and South Africa. The result is a generation of innovators whose homegrown ideas could, in the manner of SafeMotos, improve the lives of their fellow Africans.