Editor’s Note: February 01, 2019

Is African tech booming?

Paris-based venture capital firm Partech ventures has closed its inaugural Africa fund at $143m, beating an original target of $115m. This comes on the back of new data showing that African tech startups raised $334.5m of funding in 2018, a new record.

The numbers are part of a narrative that positions Africa as the next big thing in tech. On the back of the mobile revolution, the story goes, the startup scene is set to boom, with the continent ready to leapfrog to the cutting edge of technology.

Yet it’s not clear what the figures tell us.

For one, $334m is just 0.11% of $293bn in global VC funding for 2018. Indian tech startups raised $10.5bn last year, or 31 times as much as all of Africa.

This money is also concentrated in a few markets – South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria dominate – and sectors like fintech and e-commerce. Few startups have achieved meaningful scale.

In context the picture looks more like a fragmented ecosystem trying to find its feet, rather than a force to be reckoned with globally. 

This doesn’t mean Africa’s tech space should be dismissed – not least because of how fundamental technology is to the 21st century economy – but the narrative around it feels blinkered.

From The Continent

Kenya’s National Industrial Credit Bank (NIC) and Commercial Bank of Africa, the country’s largest privately owned lender, are merging. The deal will create East Africa’s third-largest bank with an asset base of $4.41bn. More: CNCB Africa


Zimbabwe’s umbrella public sector union has called off a planned nationwide strike due to ongoing volatility and protests in the country. This comes amid stalled talks with the government over wage increases for public sector workers and an acute economic crisis. More: Reuters

The Daily Stat

1.2m

The number of tonnes of coal Botswana hopes to produce from the country’s first privately owned coal mine. More: Reuters

The Global Perspective

Saudi Arabia and Morocco have discussed launching a maritime shipping line between the two countries, part of wider plans for economic cooperation. This comes amid an investment push on the continent by Riyadh. More: Morocco World news

Standard Chartered bank has announced plans to expand its digital-only retail bank, launched in Côte d’Ivoire in March 2018, to Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya. Digital banking is gaining traction on the continent, where up to 60% of the population lacks access to formal financial services.  More: Independent Online

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