Africa Goes Hi-tech: But Where Are All Those Keen Investors?

Osiame Molefe | Daily Maverick | May 8, 2012

“Africa is writing history for all the right reasons now. The amount of innovation going on across the continent has leaders, thinkers and innovators curious about the possibilities of the continent,” Kenyan entrepreneur Mark Kaigwa told attendees at re:publica, Europe’s single largest gathering of bloggers and digital activists, held last week in Berlin.

Kaigwa overlaid a picture of Africa by night – marked by yawning stretches of darkness spotted by a few intense concentrations of light where major cities would be – with that of the number of internet connections and mobile phone users. In the new picture, the darkness gave way to many spots of light from Cape to Cairo, representing the over 600 million mobile phone users and over 100 million internet connections on the continent.

Thanks to rapid economic growth, those numbers are increasing rapidly and will soon see the continents’ 1.2 billion inhabitants connected, transforming commerce, communities and culture, Kaigwa said. Which is why Africa can no longer be thought of, metaphorically or in terms of luminous intensity, as the “dark continent”. Home-grown technology has been leading the charge to change Africa’s story. Several African tech start-ups, many borne out of practical, everyday needs, have gone on to have a global impact...