Tech in Africa Series: Africa’s Entrepreneurial Strides

Silicon Cape
28 Aug 2013

This was originally posted on the blog of Sparkpr, a leading global tech PR agency with offices in San Francisco, New York and Cape Town.

The characteristics of an entrepreneur are many, but select few individuals carry themselves with the traits needed to shift an entire industry.

The current rise of new entrepreneurs in Africa’s tech industry is creating economic uplift and increased GDP, as well as inclusion of South Africa in the BRICS bloc.

Famed business consultant Peter Drucker, defined an entrepreneur as someone who seeks change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. Further defining entrepreneurship, Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter views entrepreneurship as a force of “creative destruction.” According to Schumpeter an entrepreneur creates “new combinations,” thereby helping render old industries obsolete. Entrepreneurs are individuals who strive to make their business the most dynamic of any business within a market. They are trend-setting individuals with a unique perspective; they are key players and game-changers.

Africa’s rich list of pioneering entrepreneurs includes the likes of Patrice MotsepePam Golding and Anton Rupert. And Mark Shuttleworth founder of Thawte was one of the first African tech entrepreneurs to be considered a game-player in the international tech sphere.

Up and coming tech entrepreneurs are now pioneering new uses for technology in mainstream African culture. They are shifting the popular mindset away from business as a systematic and sometimes bureaucratic aspect of entrepreneurship, and allowing new ideas and models to be regarded as innovative and useful.

Young individuals such as Sizwe Nzima of Cape Town, South Africa recently made the Forbes 30 under 30: Forbes Magazine’s 30 best young entrepreneurs list for his business, Iyeza Express, a bicycle delivery service that shuttles medication to chronically ill patients. Nzima meets customer needs and expectations by offering this service at a low cost. His notoriety exemplifies how tech entrepreneurship in Africa has accelerated at an impressive rate for a developing continent still wrought with lacking infrastructure.

Africa’s tech industry is bubbling up with new hubs for increased activity. An example lies in the construction of Kenya’s Konza City “Africa’s first technology city.” The aim of this development is to forge “a sustainable, world-class technology hub and a major economic driver for the nation with a vibrant mix of businesses, workers, residents, and urban amenities.” Similarly construction on South Africa’s Jozi Hub incubator is set to begin this year; Jozi Hub aims to include development of internet, social media and mobile technologies.

Young Africans are banging down the tech space with their unique ideas, tailoring tech for African markets. Recently the Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship included numerous African tech companies within a larger, global list of entrepreneurial ventures to watch. Three notable African companies that made the list include:

  • Mobiflock (South Africa) – a mobile safety and security company that offers parents and individuals peace of mind when using smartphones and tablets
  • Farmerline (Ghana) – provides improved information access and communication pathways for smallholder farmers and agricultural stakeholders
  • Fomobi (Kenya) – an integrated consulting and development ICT firm that fully recognizes the impact and relevance of technology as a solution to most challenges faced by corporate and individuals

The future of Africa involves only positive predictions. Cameroonian tech entrepreneur and businesswomen, Rebecca Enonchong recently told CNN Africa’s Robyn Curnow that Africans should “think globally but build locally.” By harnessing the unique tech landscape of Africa and an unwavering resolution to succeed, the continent is set to offer the rest of world a truly African tech experience.

Athule Mbena joined Sparkpr in May 2013, after a 6 month stint in a leading South African PR agency where she focused on assisting the Senior Account Manager with deliverables to client. Her academic background involves studies in Marketing and Logistics, and she is currently completing a Public Relations diploma through the University of South Africa (UNISA).