There’s A Place Called “Silicon Dar” In Tanzania, And It’s Africa’s First Naturally Formed Tech District

By  |  July 24, 2019

We all know Silicon Valley, the USD 2.8 Tn tech hub in San Francisco that’s very much the epicenter of all things innovation in the world. Little did we know that the place, where Apple, Atari, and Oracle were founded, has a sister in Tanzania called Silicon Dar. 

In the Tanzanian Capital of Dar es Salaam is the main office of some of the major telecoms in the East African country. On a stretch of Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road between Bamaga and the Morocco Road junction is a cluster of some big players in East Africa. 

Tigo, Vodacom, Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTCL), Zanzibar Telecom (Zantel), Halotel and Airtel Tanzania are all headquartered in this emerging hub. Not only them, but also some state-run bodies including the Commission for Science for Science and Technology Tanzania (Costech), the University of Dar es Salaam College of ICT, Buni Hub and the TTCL data center. 

The one thing common among these establishments is the same that formed Silicon Valley – technology. Because of this, the area is arguably one of the newest tech hubs in Tanzania and Africa, and it is a testament to the burgeoning ecosystem of innovation in the East African country. The name Silicon Dar has been afforded on the back of this, and from the input of tech experts and enthusiasts.

Silicon Valley’s transformation happened over a hundred-year period. It was in the 1980s that the place became a widely accepted center of the computer industry.

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As eBay, PayPal, Yahoo, and Google led the pack of companies founded in the area in the 1990s, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, and Tesla joined the bandwagon the following decade. Though no one knows whether Silicon Dor will metamorphose into such a glory region, the place is off to a flying start. 

In one of Africa’s busiest cities, Lagos, is another tech hub that has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Nigeria. An ICT Hub, the well-known Computer Village, is reported to generate nothing less than USD 4 Bn every 24 hours. In the West African nation, the hub is the epicenter of all things gadgets, even though it has made headlines as a place where the disturbing unusual happens – sale scams and street thefts, among others. 

In Kenya, there is Konza City,  a large technology hub earmarked by the Government of Kenya to be built 64 km south of Nairobi, on the way to the port city of Mombasa. The area is advertised to be a key driver of Kenya’s national development plan, dubbed Kenya Vision 2030.

Rwanda’s Kigali Innovation City is another tech hub yarn in East Africa, where Africa50 will reportedly spend USD 400 Mn to help the government build a whole new tech civilization. 

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What sets Tanzania’s innovation rendezvous point aside from the rest is that it’s naturally-formed, without the need to inconveniently pull resources together. At first, only two innovation hubs and one business incubator formed Silicon Dar. Since 2011, Silicon Dar has added about a dozen more centers. There is no telling how many more are to come. 

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