Silicon Savannah: The New High-Tech Hub

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The Global Entrepreneurship Summit, held in Kenya and hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama, is coming up, solidifying Kenya’s role as a hub for tech startups. Combined with Facebook’s recent expansion in and venture capital funds directing investments to Africa, this is clearly a spot to watch.

The Silicon Savannah as a hotspot dates back to 2007 in Kenya, when the following innovations were born in the country: M-PESA, iHub, Ushahidi, and TEAMs. M-PESA is the world-renowned mobile money service, while Ushahidi is a “tool for digitally mapping demographic events.” iHub is an innovation center, which has spawned 152 companies since 2010.   Finally, TEAMs is an “undersea fiber optic cable.”

Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, largely sparked this Silicon Savannah movement by developing an ICT master plan in 2006, leading to the creation of an ICT Authority in 2013.

The Silicon Savannah tech scene is now comprised of the following: tech innovation centers such as Zambia’s Bongo Hive; both youth and tech veterans, such as the CEO of AppsTech, Rebecca Enonchong; and a multitude of investment opportunities including donors, expanding international ICT companies, and venture capital companies.

There was more than $400 million in venture capital funding in Africa in 2014. Between 2012 and 218, there is an expected $1 billion in total investment.

Finally, TechCrunch expects four trends to emerge in the African tech landscape:

  1. An increasing number of ICT plans and infrastructure investments, especially in countries like Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana;
  2. Funneling of development aid to tech startups on the continent;
  3. Continued expansion of African-based companies such as M-PESA, or the Nigerian iROKO movie distributor; and
  4. A massive acquisition of an African startup by a major company, earning billions and possibly entering the global stock exchange.

It seems Silicon Savannah is making its mark on the global tech industry and is here to stay.

Source: Jake Bright and Aubrey Hruby, TechCrunch