All in all, 2017 was another major year of development in the African technology space, but some tech companies made particularly impressive steps forward.
Liquid Telecom has been on a major expansion push as it looks to “cloudify” Africa. The company completed the upgrade of its East Africa fibre ring to 100GB across key routes in the East African region, including Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, in September. It also signed a number of major new partnership agreements in 2017 as it plans for further growth across a number of African markets in 2018.
The mobile operator cemented its leadership of the Kenyan market in 2017, prompting speculation that nearest challenger Airtel was to withdraw. The company also completed a major renovation of its M-Pesa network, and added new capabilities. Not only that, but Safaricom is going large on value added services. Its taxi-hailing app Little is expanding quickly, while in November it launched e-commerce platform called Masoko.
The golden child of Africa’s tech startup space, coding accelerator Andela secured $40 million in funding last year, one of the biggest rounds ever raised by a startup on the continent. Is set to use the investment to expand into new markets, having already become active in the likes of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
The South African IT services company announced earlier in the year that it will be at the forefront of Telkom’s expansion plans in Africa, further evidence of BCX’s growing clout. The tech firm is also venturing into the digital skills space, inking deals with the likes of WeThinkCode and the Cape IT Initiative to invest millions in upskilling Africans in tech.
Another year of sustained growth for Paga recently ended as it established itself as the go-to mobile payments platform for Nigerians. The company used 2017 to successfully push itself into other areas, notably signing deals with Uber and ChopUp.
BitPesa is effectively banned from operating in its home market of Kenya by the central bank’s regulations, but it is expanding quickly in other African markets. The company raised two major funding rounds in 2017 to take its total secured investment to $10 million, and is primed for further growth this year in spite of its travails back home.
Technically a U.S.-based company, but Zipline only has operations in Africa, so it can be considered an African firm for these purposes. Having initially launched in Rwanda in 2016, using drones to deliver blood and medical supplies to rural areas, the company used 2017 to expand its lifesaving technology to Tanzania.
Another of the tech companies to watch is South African ed-tech company GetSmarter, which had been a darling of the African tech space for some time. The company cemented its place back in May when global e-learning firm 2U acquired it for $103 million plus $20 million in potential earnouts.
Pat Ugwu II is the founder of Akanne Systems, an orgranisation that promotes the use of technologies in African.