Reclaiming ‘Giant of Africa’ On Tech Turf

Contributor: Tech Mistress is not a so young ‘eccentric’, tech loving lady. She likes to share information in funny and witty ways, to inform but yet motivate. You can follow her on twitter – @AbiikeBlogger, and check out her blog – Mumuocrats.

Sometimes last week, a link went viral. It was all over twitter. This link had a list of 30 brilliant African startups. Nigeria is proud to be amongst the listed. The buzz is great for us amidst the present political situation and international issues. Statistics have revealed that Africa’s one-billion people are coming online and 600-million of them already have mobile phones.

It is estimated that by 2040, Africa’s working age population will be the largest in the world, making for a large number of young, active consumers — the brand conscious, aspirational demographic businesses covet. In the last 10 years 117-million Africans have migrated to cities, establishing a larger, wealthier concentration of people in need of goods and services.

Africa can be said to be more urbanised than India and almost on par with China. Consumer spending grows by four percent a year and by 2020, it has been estimated that poverty levels in Africa will fall to 20% from nearly 45% percent in the1980s.

The opportunities in Africa are vast despite all our ‘issues’. Young people are taking over. Wired has likened the opportunities in Africa to those of the pre-dotcom boom in 1995 stating “If you want to become extremely wealthy over the next five years, and you have a basic grasp of technology, here’s a no-brainer: move to Africa.”

From the paragraphs above, it can be seen that Africans have become innovative and are challenging the world. These companies are seizing the opportunities that information technology is creating. Nigeria is a front runner.

Below is a summary of the Nigerian startups and through out this week, we will be taking a closer look at them

Iroko Partners
One of the company’s most compelling new projects is called IrokoTV. Launched in December 2011, it allows its over 100 000 registered active users to view films from Nigeria’s film industry for free. Well, at least until June of this year, it’s not exactly clear what happens beyond that, but the company relies mainly on advertising revenue to support its business, having initially made a living through streaming full-length Nollywood movies on its YouTube channel. There are the only company with the sole rights to distribute Nollywood movies online. They have taken advantage of the fact that Nollywood is the second largest in the world and enjoy a followership that spans the globe.

TruSpot! has been in existence since 2006. The African social music platform and streaming service, utilises its strategic partnerships with African record labels and artists to bring a free African music and music video streaming service to listeners. Through Afritunes, TruSpot! also allows for digital music purchases just like Apple”s itunesThe site offers one of the largest African music catalogues available on the web — for free.

Formerly known as Gyst. it is a business directory with a vast coverage area. Infomob employs a bunch of kids with camera phones who go door-to-door, manually collecting information from businesses.
Infomob’s grass roots efforts are fantastic.

Bloovue is a Nigerian-localised ad network with lush design elegance. Bloovue guides small Nigerian businesses as they take their first steps towards advertising on the web. The ad network provides consulting and technical services to make customers’ advertising campaigns as effective as possible. Bloovue’s network stretches across five of Nigeria’s biggest websites. Bloovue customers can also build ads on mobile devices, there’s no need to even own a computer to get your business advertised on the web. Skoola – Nigeria

The website is a powerful hub where students, scholars and educationists can study and interact. The most compelling aspect of Skoola is its mock tests. The startup has taken several years worth of West African standardized tests and converted them into online exam preparation tests and exercises. The exam prep tests can also be taken on a mobile phone.Apart from the tests, users can focus on topics of interest by joining “classes” which are hubs where users can post on-topic questions or tutorials and converse via chat rooms. Why is it brilliant? Skoola’s prep tests based on several years worth of real life exam papers are fantastic. The startup also envisions a scenario where students won’t have to travel and register with public libraries for borrowing materials. Skoola plans to bring all the books and materials needed for education online.

It is a “business and networking site that connects you with friends, colleagues, business corporations and allows you buy and sell with ease.” That sounds about right. You create a Facebook-esque profile which you can use to friend other businesses/people, but the twist here is that you can also sell and buy products through 3AL. It’s pretty fantastic. It is an epic amalgamation of businesses — think B2B — and customers or really, just people, coming together to socialise in the name of capitalism. The idea is very, very intriguing.

You can check out the complete list, with startups hailing from Kenya, South Africa, to see and maybe feel the brilliance they exude.


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