Tech hubs and incubators in Africa are expected to number close to 300 by year-end, and in some surprising locations.
Last year, Disrupt Africa, which describes itself as a one-stop-shop for news, information and commentary pertaining to the continent’s tech startup – and investment – ecosystem, reported on a new hub and entrepreneurship development center in Somalia – the first such project to launch there.
The Gambia also saw its first tech hub open, when Jokkolabs expanded to the country launching a space in the capital Banjul.
Also in 2015, Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu threw open the doors for applications to the US$100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), while Paris-based incubator NUMA expanded its operations to Africa, launching in Casablanca, Morocco.
Only two months into the year, the group reports, 2016 has gotten off to a similarly exciting start. Ethiopian incubator iceaddis partnered Kenya-based GrowthAfrica to jointly deliver Ethiopia’s first startup acceleration program; while the Somalia-based entrepreneurship organization Startup Somali announced it will this year launch its accelerator program.
Among the first time hubs Disrupt found to be working under the radar were Angola’s KiandaHub, managed by a team of seven dedicated to creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country; nHub Nigeria, working to make the Northern town of Jos – afflicted by Boko Haram’s violence – into Africa’s next outsourcing hub; and Sote Hub, bringing ICT and entrepreneurship training to Kenya’s rural county of Taita Taveta.
“These developments have served to confirm our feelings, that we are seeing the start of the snowball of the co-working and incubation trend in Africa,” observed the group.
By the end of 2016, the group went on, “we expect to have recorded close to 300 tech hubs active on the African continent, given the surge in activity we are witnessing.”
Meanwhile, West African startups Flippy Campus, Pass.ng, WaraCake and Zeepay are among the nominees for the inaugural West Africa Mobile Awards (WAMAS), which rewards mobile and tech companies across the region.
The event is supported by Mobile West Africa (MWA), AppsAfrica.com, and the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), with winners to be announced at a gala in Lagos, Nigeria on April 21.
And in Kenya, the University of Nairobi’s innovation hub C4DLab has announced the launch of a bi-annual event aimed at building a community of student innovators, with the first “Young Innovators Forum” to be held in April.
“The rising number of potential young innovators is an opportunity to harness their powerful minds in a bid to create a community of innovators and inculcate the culture of creativity, innovativeness and continuous learning,” said Dr Tonny Omwansa, director of C4DLab.
The first event is to be held on April 8, at the university’s Chiromo campus, and will take the theme of “innovation by the youth for a brighter tomorrow”. The forum will feature keynote presentations, panel discussions, as well as in-depth case studies.