4th February 2023
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  • 11:32 am Meet the 2022 shortlisted authors for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.
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  • 7:49 am Facebook invests in fibre optic cables to improve internet access in Edo State

2021 was a big year for startups in Africa. By the end of the year, start-ups in Africa received over $2 billion dollars investment funds. Countries such as Kenya, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria made the top 4 nations which received the most investments. Nigeria gained almost half of the total investment made on the continent. While Egypt received $445 million, South Africa $336 million and Kenya $291 million. Algeria and Morocco also received $30 million and $28 million respectively. 

In the article, we share the summary of investment activities in Africa in 2021: the big wins, triumphs and major gaps. 

Investments and Investors

Investment funds rose from $185 thousand in 2015 to $491 million in 2019. Despite the pandemic in 2020, total investment funds was recorded at  $701 million.  Surprisingly, 2021 saw an almost four times increase with $2.1 billion. Like the funds, the number of Investors in the startup ecosystem also increased significantly. In 2018, 155 investors were recorded, and almost twice as many by the year 2019. Although there was slow progress in 2020, perhaps due to the pandemic, numbers picked up in 2021, with investors reaching 771 on the continent.

Investors include top table leader, Launch Africa ventures which invested in 65 startups, the highest number of investments, Y combinator invested in 27 while Future Africa invested in 19. There were international investors such as SoftBank, which led the $400 million seed fund for Opay and the $200 million investment fund for Andela. Other foreign investors include Target Global, Avenir Growth Capital and Valar ventures.

Start-ups

Surprisingly, more than half of the start-ups which received funding launched 3 years ago. Nigeria has the highest number of start-ups with 161, Egypt 115, South Africa 89 and Kenya with 87 startups. Ghana has a recorded sum of 19 while Morocco and Tunisia both have 15 start-ups each. The fintech sector continued to dominate the investment rounds, with 184 fintech start-ups gaining $1 billion in 2021. E-commerce was second, gaining almost one-third of what fintech received. Logistics and Agritech received the least investment with $86 million and $95 million respectively. 

Furthermore, while Fintech, E-health, E-commerce had over 40 startups, there were less than 30 start-ups in Edtech, Agritech and Logistics. Start-ups also contributed significantly to job creation, a major problem in Africa. 564 start-ups employed a total of 17,915 people in 2021. Start-ups in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa employed more than half of the total number. Nigeria was the highest with 5446. while Senegal, Uganda, Morocco and Tunisia each employed less than 500 people. 

The Gap

Gender equality and inclusion was a problem. Only 21% of start-ups which received investment funds in 2021 had at least one female founder. Kenya had the most female founders (32%) while Tunisia had the lowest with 13%, almost one-third of Kenya. 

Moreso, key sectors such as Agritech and Edtech received less funding and had fewer startups. Considering the important role of Agritech in creating more sustainable ways for food production and Africa’s need for it, the numbers were disappointing. Edtechs have also become essential since the pandemic affected the pace of education. Nevertheless, these start-ups could offer more accessibility and ease in education in Africa. 

Start-ups in other African countries also received funds. Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Uganda, Ivory coast and Tunisia all experienced over 200% increase in growth. However, one could say that these countries could do much better. North Africa gained some grounds when Algeria ranked the fifth country in investment funds, amassing $30 million in a single round!

Moving forward, barely five weeks into 2022, African start-ups have already amassed over $400 million dollars in investment funds. The future is indeed bright for the African continent.  

This report was sourced from Disrupt Africa. You can download the full report here.

Ruth Torty

Ruth Torty is a biochemist, and freelance science writer. She writes to shed light on health issues, rare diseases and science research in Nigeria. She is also a creative writer and has published on different literary sites including Spillwords and Nnoko Stories. She is passionate about genomics and its role in healthcare.

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