If you’ve been around the various startup ecosystems around Africa long enough, you would be aware of the regular mention of “Africa’s next unicorn.” This chatter is typically a mimic of Silicon Valley standards and culture with the hope that Africa’s various startup ecosystems will follow the same.

Although I have my reservations with the need for tech startups to achieve unicorn status ($1 billion valuation), for the purpose of today’s newsletter I will indulge this obsession with an arbitrary number ($1 billion) and take a look at what Africa’s next unicorns could be. More so, which industries can we expect Africa’s next unicorns to emerge out of?

The important thing to note is that the concept behind digital technologies and by extension the services and products tech startups offer is to take what is available offline and make it available in digital format online. As a result, this makes it important that certain infrastructure, such as telecommunications, be in place before tech startups can even start operating.

Also as important and given that Africa's startup ecosystem, in general, is in its infancy (with some exceptions), it is important to note that the early unicorns are likely to be those companies that are "building the railings" to enable other parts of commerce and society to operate and build on top of them. Given this thesis, I think, as we are currently witnessing, that Africa's Unicorns will come from the following three industries in the next five years:

  • fintech,
  • e-commerce and digital marketplaces,
  • and transportation and logistics.

The idea behind this is as stated before, for our continent, these three industries are key to enabling commerce (trade) and ensuring Africa's economy turns. Whichever startups emerge out of these three industries successfully are likely to reach $1 billion (and beyond) valuations. I was tempted to predict, or suggest, a list of startups in each industry that are likely on their way to unicorn status but that would be arrogant of me as I do not know the inner workings of each of these startups to make such a prediction with a certain level of confidence.

Do you agree with me?

What are your thoughts on Africa's (next possible) unicorns?

Top Stories

📌 The company formerly known as Liquid Telecommunications, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, has announced that it has reached quite a key milestone when it comes to its telecommunications division. The pan-African technology company has announced that it has achieved the 100,000 km fiber network rollout milestone across the continent. A major achievement also considering that at the beginning of 2021 Liquid had 89,989 km of fiber rolled out across Africa. One of the biggest challenges that need to be addressed across the continent is terrestrial fiber connectivity and Liquid seems to be on the way to addressing this. Link

🤝🏿 Ethiopia and the Internet Society have signed a new pact to advance what they say is the East African country’s digital economy. More specifically, the collaboration between Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT) of Ethiopia and the Internet Society will support the implementation of Ethiopia’s digital transformation strategy. This strategy aims to help advance the digital economy and drive economic transformation in Ethiopia by developing digital services to advance key sectors that drive economic growth such as agriculture, manufacturing, services, and tourism. The agreement will also help expand connectivity to rural areas, build Internet infrastructure, and strengthen Internet governance. Link

🚀 Cameroon now has a dedicated government policy to support tech startups in the Central African country. With ICT set to become the engine of development in Cameroon in its role as a hub in the Central Africa sub-region, Cameroon's 2021 tax scheme has been updated to promote innovative digital technology startups. Eligibility for the benefits of the startup promotion scheme is subject to the consent of Approved Management Centers dedicated to startups. The specific obligations of the Approved Management Centers shall be specified by an instrument issued by the Minister in charge of finance. Link

🦹🏽 In Kenya, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) online application system is reported to have been breached and hacked. Apparently, the hackers managed to gain access to the system and effected numerous illegal approvals. This led to authorities deciding to shut down the system. NMS provides unique electronic identification of all approved architectural and structural plans in Nairobi, eliminating the need for property developers to submit hard copies of development plans for physical stamping as a mark of final approval.  Kangethe Thuku, NMS Deputy Director-General, confirmed the breach and also stated that the suspension of the electronic system is temporary. Link

📵 The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the country’s Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy have been ordered by the Federal Government to collaborate with prosecutors in order to ensure the speedy prosecution of “offenders” who defy the Twitter ban without any further delay. Effectively this means that anyone in Nigeria using a VPN service to bypass the Twitter restrictions is subject to prosecution. The question is how will Nigerian authorities determine who is an offender and who is not considering that a VPN service can be used for various different purposes? Link

Thought of the Day

Africa's next unicorns in 5 years are likely to emerge from industries that are "building the railings" to enable other parts of commerce and society, most likely fintech, digital marketplaces, and transportation/logistics. (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)

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