African diversity is a challenge for startups


The diversity of Africa and the fact that no two markets on the continent are the same is a challenge for startups that wish to scale beyond their borders.

This is according to panelists at the Africa Technology Summit (ATS) held last week in Lagos, Nigeria, by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST).

Panellists engaged in a discussion about the differences between tech landscapes across Africa agreed there were huge challenges for startups looking to expand from one market to another, as each African country has its own unique set of circumstances and issues.

Ebi Atawodi, Uber general manager for West Africa, said startups were better off ensuring the quality of their product was as good.

“Collaboration in the African tech space is practically impossible due to economies that are massively unique in their own ways. Rather, companies should strive to be world class,” she said.

Obi Ejimofo, chief operating officer (COO) of Asoko Insight, said it was positive for startups to have expansion plans but they must not overextend themselves too soon.

“It is good to have a pan-African vision but how well you can dominate and sustain the market is more important,” he said.

This was a view shared by Parminder Vir, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“Three things are key: understand your market, build from your local market up, and be aware that 54 African nations are very diverse in many respects,” she said.


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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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