Africa: 10 innovators to watch
African entrepreneurs are using technology to develop ideas to introduce products and services to compete within the continent’s burgeoning marketplace. With the level of challenges that tech start-ups face in competing within the broader technology space, business incubation, funding and other resources have emerged as focal points for industry regulators and governments. A number of technology-focused collective communities, described as Innovation Hubs, or Technology Labs have emerged with the objective of building innovative business.
1. The Innovation Hub (South Africa)
The Innovation Hub’s status as Africa’s first internationally accredited Science and Technology Park. It covers several key sectors including IT, Biosciences, Green Technologies and Industrials.
The organistion is home to 47 businesses. These are made up of fledgling companies who utilise the Innovation Hub’s Business Incubator Program, including access to complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity and mentorship, as well as businesses looking to invest in commercial space to benefit by being part of a networked community of peers.
The Innovation Hub is behind the launch of ground-breaking initiatives. It also breathed life into the Open Innovation Solution Exchange, a web-based platform that connects innovators with solution seekers to tackle service delivery in government and increase competitiveness in the private sector.
2. Botswana Innovation Hub (Botswana)
Established in 2006, The Botswana Innovation Hub is focused on key sectors including IT, bio-tech, energy and environment, as well as mining. The Hub came about as a result of the realisation of the Botswana Excellence Strategy which had as its foundation a national strategy for diversification of the country’s economy, job creation and the pursuit of a knowledge-based economy.
Several companies and partners have registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub, including the University of Botswana, as well as a citizen-owned startup company called Kaelekae, focused on the provision of mobile phone-based platforms for social networking and marketing..
3. AfriLabs (online networked)
This network organisation was established in 2010 to promote the growth and development of Africa’s technology sector. At present the AfriLab network comprises 14 hubs and labs across Africa.
4. BongoHive (Zambia)
Lusaka-based BongoHive is a technology and Innovation Hub set up in May 2011, established to provide an area for the local tech community to network and engage each other.
BongoHive has collaborated with a social media management and content creation agency called C1RCA1964 to facilitate and advertise the relevance of Tweet Up Fundraiser. This initiative aimed at grouping online resources and people to help raise funds for important causes, including HIV prevention.
According to its website, its activity is focused on three key aspects including innovation, creativity and sustainability. Membership is free, however members must agree to specific development methods.
5. Co-Creation Hub (Nigeria)
Described as a social innovation centre, the Co-Creation Hub is focused on the strategic use of social capital and technology to boost Nigeria’s economy. Ideas and skills application seems to be a core focus of CcHUB, which, as its website proclaims, has been covered in the media for the desire to house “Nigeria’s next great idea”.
6. Ebene Cyber-City (Mauritius)
The Ebene Cyber-City is an established technology and business focused community within Ebene City, 15 km south of the capital Port Louis. The Cyber-City features the Ebene Cyber Tower 1, a twelve-story commercial building and represents a core component of the government’s plan to develop IT.
Cyber-City falls under the Business Parks of Mauritius Ltd. (BPML Group), a government-owned infrastructure development company. One of the objectives of the BPML is to cement the country’s status as a regional centre for excellence for IT outsourcing.
7. i-Hub (Kenya)
According to Wikipedia, i-Hub has been called the “unofficial headquarters of Kenya’s tech movement”
It is also described on its website as “part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator” and there is emphasis on its role as an open space for the country’s tech community, with particular reference to providing startups and entrepreneurs access to VCs, seed funders and local businesses.
i-Hub states that it has 10596 members and 152 companies on board, many of whom are positioned within Kenya’s developer community. The initiative is reported to have supported the creation of the mobile phone service M-Farm, designed to empower farmers with real-time information. Its partners include Intel, Google, Samsung, amongst others.
8. Outbox Hub (Uganda)
Defined on its website as a “technology incubation, collaboration space and innovation hub”, The Outbox Hub features Google for Entrepreneurs as a sponsor and is focused on supporting the establishment of mobile and web businesses, steering entrepreneurship through incubation and acceleration.
It is targeted at developers, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors, and provides mentorship, network and investor sourcing, as well as access to professional services.
Startup companies within the Outbox community include Kola Studios (developer and publisher of Social Mobile games for the web, smartphone and tablet devices), CodeSync (a developing one-stop music store for African musicians) and Beyonic (software development and consultancy firm).
9. iLab (Liberia)
iLab Liberia is a non-profit computer laboratory that provides access to technology and IT expertise to benefit the country.
This initiative is focused on information sharing and also hosts tech events and network facility through which tech enthusiasts can engage with each other and IT professionals. There are a host of collaborators affiliated to the iLab, including Google, the Georgia Institute of Technology and UN Volunteers.
10. IceAddis (Ethiopia)
Ethiopian university-based innovation hub, incubator and business accelerator IceAddis is based on the idea of combining innovation with collaboration and entrepreneurship.
It has been established to foster collaboration between stakeholders in the country’s developing ICT space, including academia, technology industry, the government and wider private sector.
IceAddis is reported to have more than 500 active members, a community of budding entrepreneurs and developers who leverage off the Hub’s mentorship and training programmes.
- 10 african innovation incubators to watch (itnewsafrica.com)
- Exploring the Start-up Tech Hubs in Africa (blogs.cisco.com)
- The 10 Hottest Startup Incubators (forbes.com)
- The RCA’s incubator wrestles with its own development (johnwhatmore.com)
- Festival’s aim is to encourage innovation (virginiabusiness.com)
- How Africa’s new tech cities could change the continent’s IT landscape (zdnet.com)
Tags: Africa, African, AfriLabs, BongoHive, Botswana, Botswana Innovation Hub, BPML Group, Business incubator, Business Incubator Program, Business Parks of Mauritius, C1RCA1964, Co-Creation Hub, Cyber Tower Job Fair, Ebene Cyber-City, Ethiopia, Ethiopian, Georgia Institute of Technology, Google, HIV prevention, Hub, i-Hub, IceAddis, iLab, incubator, incubators, Innovation Hub, Innovation Hubs, IT outsourcing, Kenya, Kola Studios, Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Open Innovation Solution Exchange, Outbox Hub, Samsung, Social Mobile games, South Africa, Technology Labs, The Innovation Hub, Uganda, Wi-Fi, Zambia
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