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Africa home to 310 active technology hubs


technology-hubsAfrica home to 310 active technology hubs

The African continent is home to 310 active technology hubs, with Nigeria having 23 after South Africa and Kenya, with 51 and 26 hubs respectively.The springing up of technology hubs in the region has been hinged on the growth of mobile, which has emerged as the platform of choice for creating, distributing and consuming innovative digital solutions and services.

Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSMA) in its ‘Ecosystem Accelerator programme’ report, listed the factors driving this trend, to include the expansion of advanced mobile networks, the growing adoption of smart devices, the convenience of accessing real-time, feature-rich content and services on the go, and the underdevelopment of alternative technologies, notably fixed-line connectivity, in the region.

GSMA observed that although global content providers such as Facebook and Google have launched localised services to tap into the increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, there is growing interest from consumers in home-grown solutions that directly appeal to local interests and cultures, and that address unique social and economic challenges faced by consumers in the region.

For example, the body said there are innovative solutions in the region that leveraged the size and reach of mobile infrastructure, distribution channels, mobile payments and technologies to improve access to utility services for underserved communities.

GSMA noted that the technology hubs springing up across Africa represented a key source of locally developed applications, stressing that there are approximately 310 active tech hubs across the region, including 180 accelerators/incubators.

The body, which listed top three countries in terms of tech hubs in the region to include South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, said in March 2016, application accelerator company, Neumob, launched points of presence in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, to enable local app developers to improve the performance, security and user experience of their applications.

Meanwhile, GSMA informed that the tech start-up investment ecosystem in Africa is increasingly active, with the range of tech start-ups funded and size of deals reflecting the accelerating development of the ecosystem.

According to it, in 2015, 125 African tech start-ups raised approximately $185 million, with Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa receiving more than 80 per cent of the funding. However, it pointed out that this amount pales in comparison to the $27.3 billion raised by start-ups globally in the same year, underlining the need for more investment to fund start-ups in the region as well as diversification of target markets to enable broader development of the start-up ecosystem.

GSMA said key stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem needed to collaborate to ensure that new mobile-based solutions achieve scale and sustainability.To the body, governments needed to become more directly involved in supporting tech hubs, given their potential to create new jobs, develop solutions to tackle social challenges and positively engage young people.

It stressed that multilateral and non-government organisations also have a role to play in the emerging tech innovation landscape, particularly in providing technical support and a platform for collaboration.

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