Last Week in African Tech #39

Happy Sunday to everyone,

I spent the last week in Kenya and Rwanda to understand the market a bit better and attend Seedstars Nairobi, our startup competition where we find the best startups from a certain country.

As always, you can find the key stories of the past week below.


1) Tech Talent war in Africa:

It is widely known that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not — and as tech companies from around the world are competing for talent more fiercely than ever before, they are increasingly starting to look for talent from Africa as well. Companies like Andela, which received $24 million from Mark Zuckerberg, are offering global companies easy access to world-class African talent and global CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg are visiting some of the tech hotspots themselves to meet talented entrepreneurs.. The Wall Street Journal also picked up the trend and ran in interesting in-depth piece on the tech talent war across the continent (🔒 behind a paywall unfortunately).

2) Inside Rocket Internet’s struggles:

Bloomberg ran a fascinating in-depth piece on the troubling state of Rocket Internet, the Berlin based venture builder that is behind Jumia and many other e-commerce businesses in Africa and around the world. Rocket internet went public in 2014 and has since lost over 50% of its value, lost over $700 million just in the first half of this year and is constantly raising more and more money to support its cash-burning ventures. And while the company has shown some success stories, such as the Europe based shoe retailer Zalando, most of the startups have either failed or are struggling to turn a profit. Many Jumia subsidiaries across the continent have been laying off staff and the recent rebranding that consolidated all Rocket subsidiaries into one Jumia brand was another step in reducing cost and increasing synergies across portfolio companies.

This shows that even though the company has among the best expertise in terms of running and scaling businesses, the deepest pockets to support them and gave birth to the Africa Internet Group (AIG), the first African unicorn, emerging markets and Africa in particular are still a tough nut to crack.

3) Fintech Wave:

To observers of this space it is probably no news that fintech is an incredibly hot space across the continent. There have been numerous announcements in the past few weeks: The announcement pan-African payment API Flutterwave, Visa’s entry into Kenya and many more.

This week had 2 interesting announcements:

1) South African payment processor Peach Payment announced that it’s expanding to Kenya and Nigeria

2) KCB, Kenya’s biggest bank is launching KCB fintech, a new unit in the company with the focus on working on digital payments. As it it is defining its strategy, KCB is in already in talks with tech behemoths such as Facebook, Apple, Alphabet and Tencent to explore opportunities to collaborate on digital payments.

4) Last Week in Short:

5) Infographic of the week:

Kenyan Bitcoin startup BitPesa released an infographic comparing the advantages of digital currencies and highlighting the different tools that exist out there to make digital payments:

BitPesa infographic

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Marcello

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I am the regional manager for Africa at Seedstars, an initiative to find, connect and invest in startups in emerging markets. Seedstars is active in 20 African countries and 65 countries across the world to find the best early stage startups, analyze local ecosystems and work with public and private partners to invest in and support entrepreneurs locally and across the world through a variety of competition, acceleration, incubation and education programs. Our competition culminates in the annual Seedstars Summit, bringing together over 60 startups, hundreds of investors and 1000+ startup enthusiasts from across the world

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