Top 5 pan-African startup developments in 2017


It was another busy year of activity in the African tech startup space, with some major global players becoming heavily involved in various ecosystems.

Disrupt Africa wraps up some of the most exciting initiatives and major news story from across 2017.

The World Bank arrives

The World Bank launched its XL Africa programme early in the year, offering startups access to a tailormade curriculum and the chance to receive mentoring from global and local experts. It is supported by a number of African investment groups.

After more than 900 applications were received, organisers selected 20 African tech startups to take part in the programme, which ended with a two-week residency in Cape Town.

Andela’s landmark funding round

Coding school Andela announced in October it had secured US$40 million in Series C funding from a host of investors, taking its total venture funding to over US$80 million.

The round was led by pan-African firm CRE Venture Capital (catch up with co-founder Pule Taukobong here), and will be used to fuel Andela’s pan-African expansion.

Mobile operators becoming more active

Orange’s US$56 million Africa fund may well signal a new era for startup-operator operations, with the company also agreeing to support Egyptian tech startups. Other operators are also getting more active, notably Safaricom, though portfolio company Sendy says the Kenyan operator treats it “like a guinea pig”.

Securing a partnership with or funding from a mobile operator can be great for the growth of your business, but securing such deals is a minefield for startups. Here are four tips to bare in mind when putting together your pitch deck for MNOs.

Google in Africa

It was a landmark year for Google in Africa, with the company extending its Launchpad accelerator to the continent and selecting a number of African startups to take part. The company has previously focused on digital skills, but is now branching out further into the African tech startup ecosystem.

Google also partnered Nigeria’s Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) to launch PitchDrive, a three-week European tech hub tour with a specific goal of raising of EUR20 million (US$22 million) in investments.

African startups attractive to overseas accelerators

African tech startups are proving more and more attractive to overseas accelerator programmes, with Printivo, Fyodor Biotechnologies, MailHaven, and Mobile Forms all making it onto 500 Startups programmes in 2017.

Kudi and Releaf made it into Y Combinator, as did Morocco’s WaystoCap, while Aella Credit – an alumni of both programmes – secured funding from each of 500 Startups and Y Combinator. 500 Startups also invested in Egypt’s Eventtus.

2017 also saw Startupbootcamp take its first plunge with the launch of its first African programme. Cape Town was chosen as the base for the inaugural programme, with 10 startups from across the continent were selected to take place.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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