Published On: Fri, Dec 30th, 2016

2016 Africa roundup: worker delivery, VC, unicorns, exits and Zuck

Twenty-sixteen was a pivotal year for African tech.

The continent’s IT stage captivated vital investment, constructed a initial $1 billion startup, launched a inhabitant worker smoothness program, and drew one of Silicon Valley’s biggest icons to debate a creation hubs.

This from a segment that usually a decade ago generated roughly no Google News hits for tech. That positively wasn’t a box this year. Though Africa has nonetheless to furnish large startup profits, IT IPOs, or even a possess dot-com bubble, it did register poignant tech events over a final 12 months.

Jumia Became Africa’s First Unicorn, Orange Acquires DealDey

A swell of collateral and a important merger increasing a value tender of e-commerce in Africa. In February, digital sales startup Jumia became a continent’s initial unicorn when it surpassed $1 billion in marketplace value after a $326 million appropriation turn including investors AXA, Goldman Sachs and MTN.

Founded by Germany’s Rocket Internet and shaped in Nigeria, Jumia is deploying a supports opposite a 11 startups in 23 African countries. Its e-commerce platforms offer online services trimming from conform and practice to genuine estate. Jumia also launched a possess digital payments height JumiaPay, in 2016.

In March, a African auxiliary of Swiss media and e-commerce association Ringier acquired Nigerian online selling startup DealDey for an undisclosed amount. This combined exits (rare hereto in African tech) for Ringier’s initial investors. The pierce was partial of Ringier’s plan to deposit in 4 verticals within Africa: classifieds, content, digital marketing, and e-commerce. The Swiss organisation shaped Ringier Africa Deals Group, a corner try with South African Silvertree Internet Holdings Ltd., for a DealDey buy and destiny marketplace moves.

Big Name Expansion: Netflix, eBay, Uber, IBM

Several important tech names stretched on a continent in 2016. In January, Netflix went live in Africa, accelerating from 0-54 countries in one fell swoop. This presented a plea to African VOD startup, iRoko, that countered with several of a possess moves to enter new countries and furnish some-more exclusive Nollywood content.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 during 6.11.11 AM

 eBay stretched in Nigeria and Kenya in Jul by a partnership with online selling startup The partnership launched an eBay Powered by MallforAfrica height by that U.S. businesses with a 300+ star rating can sell. eBay will supplement 11 new countries to a partnership in 2017, including Angola, Botswana, and Tanzania, according to MallforAfrica CEO Chris Folayan.

little-cap-i-2-1Uber extended a product, country, and city strech in Africa in 2016. In June, we reported on a company’s contrast of singular use options on a continent not accessible in many of a tellurian markets. These embody money payments, new reserve measures, and mobile picture instruction apps.

Uber gained a homegrown opposition in Kenya in 2016 with Safaricom’s launch of a Little app. Little’s entrance has spurred a tit for tat foe in Kenya’s float accost marketplace around cost and product offerings between Uber and a country’s other viable digital-car services. The biggest personality so distant appears to be Kenyan consumer.

Big Blue also increasing a Africa participation in 2016. We reported in May on IBM Research Africa’s plan to emanate a cognitive computing homogeneous to Watson, dubbed Lucy, from a Nairobi lab. The U.S. blue chip hulk stretched that bid in August, opening a second investigate lab in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Zuckerberg Surprise African Tech Tour

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unannounced August/September outing to Nigeria and Kenya put a tellurian spotlight on Africa’s rising IT ecosystem. In Nigeria he talked to startup heads (, Afrinolly, and Andela), visited a Co-Creation Hub,  hosted a Facebook city hall, and met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

In Kenya Zuck stopped by the iHub creation space, reviewed a BRCK mobile Wi-Fi device, had lunch with Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary and met with internal tech leaders including Juliana Rotich and Erik Hersman. Facebook, that has roughly 85 million users in Sub-Saharan Africa, announced no new initiatives, observant a outing was about “learning and understanding.” There’s positively some-more behind a scenes— many expected a 2017 ascent to Facebook’s Free Basics program, that now allows users singular mobile internet services gratis in 17 African countries.

Drone Delivery in Rwanda

Throughout 2016 we lonesome California shaped worker smoothness startup Zipline’s partnership with UPS and a supervision of Rwanda to launch worker smoothness of essential medical reserve in Rwanda. After several exam rounds, Zipline went live with a module in October, apropos a world’s initial inhabitant worker smoothness module during scale. It’s a blurb endeavor, with Zipline earning revenues per delivery. Zipline’s Africa worker operation also gained a courtesy of a White House UAV initiative, that tapped a startup to exam worker smoothness of medical reserve to remote U.S. communities.


Interswitch IPO Projected and Delayed

In January, it looked like there was a clever probability of Nigerian fintech organisation Interswitch apropos Africa’s initial open startup unicorn on a vital exchange. CEO Mitchell Elegbe did not order out a probable twin inventory on a London and Lagos batch exchange. Another source pronounced a company’s bankers comparison an LSE IPO in Q4. The charity didn’t manifest though could still occur in 2017. In a new interview,  Elegbe pronounced a check was due to financier regard over Nigeria’s disappearing 2016 macroeconomic conditions and flighty naira. On a probable 2017 open listing, a association orator pronounced that “an IPO stays an option.”

VC: Incoming and Pan African

The continent continues to benefit general investments and is forming homegrown tech investment funds. In a digital financial space, Y-Combinator corroborated Nigerian startup Paystack sealed this month on a $1.3 million seed investment from sources including Tencent and Comcast, CEO Shola Akinlade confirmed.

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) also flagged some-more investment for African startups in 2016 as partial of a $30 million Startup Catalyst Initiative.

Kenya’s iHub incubator announced this month a launch of a new Africa Innovation Fund for startups. The raise, targeted during $10 million for Kenya and $40 million for other African countries, is still active, iHub’s interim-CEO Kamal Bhattacharya said. This follows a marketplace trend of African creation hubs changeable divided from grant-based financing toward some-more for-profit and investment oriented models, as reported here. 

So what large movements are value examination in African tech in 2017? First, some failures. This isn’t accurately downbeat. Failing is an unavoidable partial of a tech ecosystem. The continent’s IT zone has been on a several year run of things growing, expanding, gaining new investment. Some rubbing and artistic digital drop contingency be imminent.

On a flipside, it’s about time one of Africa’s commercially oriented startups demonstrates important profits. Yes, over 2016 a continent showed it can furnish unicorns, exits, attract large VC, and even get tighten to a vital IPO. But as Cameroonian IT personality Rebecca Enonchong once told me, “To be taken severely African startups need to win in a for-profit tellurian marketplace.” Perhaps some examples of that will emerge in a new year.

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

  • Expanding Fitness Wearables in Africa, Garmin Launches a Watch Line in Ghana with MTN
  • Africa’s Tech Hubs
  • Nigeria’s Black Friday Sales Test a E-commerce Models of Startups Jumia and Konga
  • Foodstantly Is Transforming How People Shop for Food in Nigeria
  • Kenyan Startup Ushahidi Launches a Crowdsourced Campaign to Monitor a U.S. Election
  • Rwanda’s tech initiatives infer African governments can catalyze innovation
  • TEDGlobal Will Return to Africa in 2017


African Tech Around a Net     

  • World Bank to Launch African Accelerator Programmes—@BiZCommunity
  • BitPesa Automates Payments Between Africa and China—@BizTechAfrica
  • Kenyan Start-Up Raises 1.75 Million Eur to Support Expansion in Africa and Asia—@AllAfrica
  • EIB, AfDB launch Boost Africa to support 1,500 startups—@DisruptAfrica
  • Barclays Africa Is Accepting Applications Into Its Fintech Accelerator Program In Cape Town—@TechCabal
  • Kenya Revenue Authority implements SAP ERP—@ITNewsAfrica

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