The State of Play — A review of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem

African Technology Foundation and Lions@frica scan the continent’s technology ecosystems to showcase opportunities and celebrate incremental progress.

Progress is good.

The State of Play report comes at time where the African continent must acknowledge incremental progress in its entrepreneurial and technological ecosystems, and celebrate the short run successes of the regional champions highlighted in this report.

The incremental progress referenced through the pages of this report is benchmarked against the continent’s geopolitical, socioeconomic and technological history, and the sheer ambition and aspiration of Africa’s youth as they retake the narrative and reinvent the continent’s technological and entrepreneurial future.

Africa’s GDP is growing steadily, and across all regions of the continent, individual nations can count on a young and expanding population to catalyze the growth of their economies.

Africa is open for business.

The continent is at its most politically stable period in its history, and is reaping direct benefits of globalization. Many African economies are diversifying from traditional extractive industries and becoming better integrated into the global knowledge and innovation economy.

Through our leadership of the Lions@frica initiative, and with the support of the Office of Global Partnerships of the U.S. Department of State, the African Technology Foundation has published this report to achieve multiple goals including, but not limited to, highlighting progressive policy actions and investment opportunities to ensure that Africa lays the foundation for sustained economic growth through entrepreneurship, and providing regional development snapshots that will dispel the view of Africa as a monolithic continent.

Aliesha Balde kicks off the proceedings for the State of Play launch event at the Mobile World Congress Americas side event

The Report also discusses possible solutions around notable innovation constraints such as infrastructure, human resource capital and venture funding. As curator of the Lions@frica Innovation Tour in Silicon Valley, the African Technology Foundation continues to present a unified vision towards accelerating the continent’s most promising technology startups, and demystifying the venture creation labyrinth that is Silicon Valley.

Africa’s future is bright.

The growth and development of the ecosystems highlighted in this publication is reported on a daily basis across multiple independent news sources and social media handles that celebrate Africa. This does not trivialize the threats and constraints to successfully doing business on the continent, but rather sheds more light on the upside potential of a region that was only ever associated with poverty and political turmoil.

Stephen Ozoigbo delivers a presentation on the African mobile economy and the rapid acceleration to a billion mobile subscribers on the continent

Africa is Mobile

According to data available from the GSMA,there are currently over 420 million unique mobile subscribers in Africa. This number is projected to grow to about 535 million by 2020 with a 50% average penetration rate(some countries across Africa are seeing mobile penetration rates over 100%). Although a predominantly 2G continent, the acceleration towards 4G technology is quite rapid. Android remains the leading mobile operating system, and the average revenue per user(ARPU) is $8.50, with variances as wide as $29.50(Gabon) and $2.50(Ethiopia.

The State of Play report is a progressive snapshot of current entrepreneurial ecosystems across the continent, and presents a useful tool for venture capitalists, diaspora actors, policy makers, impact investors, development partners, and other key innovation stakeholders, as well as essential reading for all those with an interest in the entrepreneurial activities on the African continent.

The full report can be downloaded for free at www.africa.co/stateofplay.

About the Author

Stephen Ozoigbo, serial investor and advisor to multiple startups, is the CEO of the African Technology Foundation, and the Managing Partner for the Lions@frica initiative of the US State Department. Prior to these roles, he was the Foreign Direct Investment Manager for the Government of Catalonia, and was responsible for a diverse array of international project management and advisory services that increased investment, innovation and bilateral trade relations between Catalonia and the West Coast of the United States.