Africa’s Bubbling Ecosystem Now Has 618 Active Tech Hubs And This Small City Is The Innovative Capital

By  |  July 11, 2019

There are now 618 active tech hubs throughout Africa and Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, takes the cake as the capital of innovation on the continent.

Nigeria plays host to the most-advanced tech ecosystem in Africa, and that’s according to a just-released submission by Briter Bridges in collaboration with the GSMA. Not that it was ever in serious doubt, but at least now there are figures to back it up.

The latest effort by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator has identified Nigeria’s tech ecosystem as the most-active and most-advanced on the continent with a total of 85 active tech hubs offering well-established collaborations and investment networks. In fact, it crowns Lagos as the top innovative city by a number of tech hubs — a figure that is well over 40.

On the whole, the latest findings have it that there are a total of 618 active tech hubs across the African continent. This figure is based on the GSMA’s definition of an active tech hub as an organisation currently active with a physical local address, offering facilities and support for tech and digital entrepreneurs. The 2019 figure represents a 40 percent climb from the 442 identified last year.

GSMA’s latest endeavour majorly categorized the hubs based on the type of support or facility offered to entrepreneurs, and includes incubators, accelerators, university-based innovation hubs, maker spaces, technology parks, and co-working spaces.

However, it is important to note that 25 percent of the identified hubs offer only co-working facilities instead of specific tech-focused support programmes or funding. And those were considered in the study by virtue of the broader social role they play in the tech community — they are commonly safe spaces for the youth and breeding grounds for digital professionals after all.

After Nigeria, South Africa comes in as the second most-advanced ecosystem on the African continent with 80 active tech hubs and this is well merited as places like Western Cape, Gauteng, and more recently, Durban, continue to pull the weight in South Africa’s tech hub scene.

The highly-recognised innovation quartet is completed by Egypt and Kenya which have 56 and 50 active tech hubs respectively. And then comes the likes of Morocco and Tunisia; both boasting thriving innovation scenes with 31 and 29 active tech hubs respectively, with the latter obviously benefitting from the recently passed Startup Act.

Francophone countries are also well represented with the likes of Cote d’Ivoire (20), Senegal (15), Mali (14) and Togo (13), doing the most on this front.

More so, it was discovered that emerging technology scenes are being registered beyond the core cities and nascent ecosystems are now sprouting in places such as Kumasi (Ghana), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Lubumbashi (DRC), and Mombasa (Kenya), where rapid urbanisation and improving education systems are creating the fabric needed to support the growth of technology ecosystems. Some of the notable hubs in these cities include Kumasi Hive and Hapaspace, the Centre for Innovation of Lubumbashi, and Bulawayo’s Tech Village.

Another interesting find was that areas which are rarely under the spotlight for tech innovation due to their history with civil unrest, environmental disasters, or biohazards are now home to several hubs scattered across their territories and have witnessed the rise of tech initiatives such as the Mogadishu Tech Summit in Somalia and Kinshasa Digital Week in DRC.

Over the past few years, technology ecosystems across Africa have witnessed incredible growth, mostly due to an outpouring of venture funds, development finance, corporate involvement, as well as ever-growing innovative communities. And this trend is expected to continue as the continent continues to position itself as the destination of the future that is happening now.

This article has been updated to reflect that the information served up here is the collaborative effort of Briter Bridges and the GSMA.

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