The last five years have been really interesting when it comes to advancements in the area of technology on the African continent — both from adoption and manufacturing point of view. We have very healthy hockey-stick graphs to represent internet penetration and adoption of e-commerce and online payment.
Internet startups have started to thrive with some having continental and global acknowledgement. The continent has also seen funding problems become almost a thing of the past with sustained activity from foreign investors and increased activity from local investors — angels especially.
So what’s in store for the one billion person continent in the next five years? Here are my predictions:
Travel and Hospitality startups spring
Startups like Hotels.ng have validated the market when it comes to the opportunities and values technology extracts from the hospitality sector and according to founder, Mark Essien, Africa is barely scratching the surface. Perhaps further validation comes from Travel Beta’s surprise funding round even makes a bigger case for this prediction as not only did they raise $2Mn barely six weeks after going public with funding from local investors.
The next five years will see more tech startups directly or indirectly linked to the hospitality sector including travel, hotel, transport, entertainment, fitness, tourism, food, etc., launch to dent a much bigger hole in this space. It will also be no surprise to see the high-growth players get acquired by foreign hospitality companies who look to expand into Africa.
Payment pains ease up
A startup with no paying customers is simply a project, and Africa has got so many of those due the conversion bottleneck that comes from inability to collect payment in an easy and convenient way. In fact a number of entrepreneurs have either packed up shop or have been forced to pivot from their original ideas to try to solve the problem of payment.
Recent years have seen the entry of new players including Paga, SimplePay, Kopo Kopo, to mention a few, all making it possible for businesses to collect payment easily, while forcing the old players such as Interswitch to also innovate. The banks are not left behind as they also join the party with innovations such as Access Bank’s PayWithCapture while backing PayStack, a startup offering one-off and recurring payments.
E-Commerce continues strong
With skepticism eroding over the years, online retail adoption in Africa is set to increase in the coming years. Retailers have made the sacrifices needed for customer acquisition when considering the terrain realities — offering options such as cash-on-delivery and even setting up online malls to feature multiple retailers. All of this allowed for trust to brew between buyers and sellers, strong enough for a player like Konga to launch its own payment solution that seems to be fairing well.
Increased appetite for data
Unlike the rest of the world, Africa lags behind when it comes to data and all the goods that come with it. However, businesses — both big corporates and SMEs—are now having an appetite for data, e.g. online and in-store retailers want to track inventory and transaction, while publishers want to know what type of content brings in most traffic.
On the innovation front, the biggest feat so far is still Ushahidi, and even though CcHub’s OpenApps project has now been retired, other startups like BudgIT, Delivery Science, Taja, to mention a few, will continue to help startups, corporates, and even individuals more interested in not only collecting but interpreting data — that’s layman for analytics.
Funding drops off list of entrepreneurial woes
The last five years had a number of entrepreneurs and wantapreneurs pointing the finger at funding as the biggest problem facing startups in Africa. However, things have also gotten a lot better, with foreign investors including Omidyar Network, Kinnevik, and Tiger gambling on African internet startups. Tony Elemelu also launched an entrepreneurship program with plans to disburse $100Mn as seed funding over ten years, $4.8Mn which have already gone to 972 African entrepreneurs and a second cycle is on the way.
Local investors are not left out as angel investors and VC firms publicly gave out millions of dollars in funding in 2015 alone. The next five years will see more of these types of activities, perhaps one to watch out for is Co-Creation Hub’s $50Mn Growth Fund, as well as Tayo Oviosu’s angel investment vehicle set to launch in 2016. Dave McClure of 500 Startups also promises more activity on the continent and successful entrepreneurs will pick up the angel investor’s hat.
There you have, my five technology trends for Africa: 2016–2020. I’d really like to read your thoughts on this so feel free to drop a line or two in annotations. Let’s get discussing on twitter, too.
Originally published on author’s medium blog.