BD Insider, Letter 93: A review of happenings in Africa's tech ecosystem
2021 is Africa's tech ecosystem's most exciting year yet, over $4.27 billion was jointly raised by startups. We look at the ups and downs of the year.
This is a blog copy of the 93rd version of our weekly newsletter, BD Insider. Subscribers get to read it first and can take action based on it.
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As you continue with your holidays, we thought we should throw back to some of the memorable moments in the African tech ecosystem that we covered this year.
Since January, tech startups operating across Africa have jointly raised over $4.27 billion in 800+ deals, this record quadrupled the $1.1 billion that was pumped into the continent last year. While this is good news, regulations, especially, in Nigeria was a tense experience for the ecosystem.
Some of the memorable moments of the year are:
- CBN’s ban on cryptocurrency in Nigeria
- The Nigerian government ban on Twitter
- Twitter made Ghana its African headquarters
- Wave became Francophone Africa’s first unicorn
- Google $50 million funds to invest in African startups
- Five unicorns emerged from Africa in 2021Let’s dive in!
Nigeria banned cryptocurrency
In February, the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered commercial banks in the country to close any accounts transacting with cryptocurrencies, stating that "dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited".
One of the reasons cited was that cryptocurrencies can be used for money laundering, terrorism financing and other illegal activities. Nigeria joined the growing list of countries — including China, Russia and Turkey — to tightly restrict or prohibit trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The Nigerian government ban on Twitter
In what seemed like a banning spree, the Nigerian government placed Twitter on an indefinite suspension after the social media platform deleted a controversial tweet made by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the government cited the "persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence", as the reason behind the suspension.
Twitter made Ghana its African headquarters
Two months after the Nigerian government banned Twitter, the microblogging site named Ghana as its first African office. However, the job descriptions published by the company revealed that although Twitter expanded to Ghana, its focus is on Nigeria.
Senegal’s Wave became Francophone Africa’s first unicorn
The mobile money operator became a unicorn by raising $200 million in a Series A led by payments giant Stripe.
Until September (when Wave announced its Series A round), all of Africa’s unicorns had emerged from Anglophone or Arabic-speaking parts of the continent. Experts have cited “huge inequality” in access to funding and capacity between Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Wave’s success will, however, inspire investments in the region. Recently, 4DX Ventures and Flutterwave invested $2.4 million in CinetPay — their first investment in the French-speaking region.
Google to invest $50 million equity-based fund in African startups
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai in October announced that the company will invest $1 billion in tech-led initiatives in Africa over the next five years. Targeted at early- to growth-stage startups, the new investment fund is equity-based, marking a significant shift in Google’s approach to investing in African startups.
Learn more about other Google investments initiatives in Africa here.
Africa minted five unicorns
2021 was undoubtedly a great year for the African startup ecosystem. Five startups raised funding to reach a billion-dollar valuation, mostly fintech companies. Flutterwave led the list in March while Opay, Andela, Wave and Chipper Cash joined later in the year.
🧐 Interesting? Yes!
Here are some of the most interesting stories we've written/read in the past week:
- How does blockchain work? Find out!
- Discover what keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life.
- 10 tech gifts below $100 for your friends and family this season.
- The life of South Africa's anti-apartheid hero; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
- How eleven African startups contributed 40% to the over $4.27 billion funds raised on the continent in 2021.
💼 Job Opportunities
Find job opportunities that you or your friend might want to apply:
- Jumia is hiring a Social Media Manager
- Connected Development is hiring a Communications Manager
- Stitch is hiring a Content Marketing Manager in Kenya, South Africa & Nigeria
Product & Design:
- Stitch is hiring for product-related roles
- OkHi is hiring a Head of Product and other roles
- Tix.Africa is hiring a Backend Engineer
- Nala is hiring a Senior Backend Engineer
Recent startups fundraise across Africa that you should be aware of:
- African Blockchain Lab secured a $6 million pre-Series A funding
- Planet45 raised $30 million, to expand car inventory in South Africa and Mexico
- MAX raised $31 million Series B funding to expand across Africa and deploy electric mobility
Tip: Plan to change jobs next year? Shoot your shot at these companies that have just raised. Companies almost always hire after a significant raise.
Thanks for reading
Curated by: Johnstone Kpilaakaa
Edited by: Daniel Iyanda