As Africa’s tech startups and their founders go about creating disrupting industries or, in some cases, building new ones, they’ve typically tended to mushroom across three major ecosystems: Nairobi, Cape Town and Lagos.
But over the past year, Lagos’ claim as the continent’s startup epicenter has gained currency. For starters, it’s the continent’s most valuable ecosystem with its startups typically raising far more in early-stage funding. It’s also home to e-commerce heavyweights such as Jumia and Konga and has birthed some of the continent’s best known startups including Andela, iROKO and Flutterwave which have all attracted major global investor interest. Hence, it’s not surprising the world’s biggest tech companies have been paying some attention and, now, they’re backing that up with action.
Lagos, being Africa’s largest city and the commercial center of Africa’s largest economy, has seen its ecosystem grow rapidly time largely thanks to work that’s been done to build the its “Yabacon Valley.” That work is paying off: last year, Nigeria attracted more investment than any other startup ecosystem in Africa.
Much of Kenya’s reputation as the leading startup ecosystem in Africa has been down to its pioneering use of mobile money technology, particularly through the Safaricom-owned M-Pesa, and its impact on ordinary Kenyans and the local economy. It’s also become well-known for a concentration of social enterprise start-ups that have received attention—and millions of investment dollars—globally. One of such is M-Kopa, a startup that helps customers in East Africa stay connected to electricity using low cost pay-as-you-use solar systems.