By Tom Jackson – Disrupt Africa Global tech companies are increasingly seeing the opportunities available to them in Africa and establishing larger presences on the continent in search of digital’s “final frontier”.
But this isn’t necessarily bad news for African tech startups, as many of these major global players are keen on developing the continent’s tech startup ecosystem, for a number of reasons.
Here are seven major tech players that are, in many different ways, playing their part in encouraging the development of Africa’s tech scene.
Where to begin. Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative has been a pioneer when it comes to corporate engagement with Africa, with a focus on increasing connectivity and encouraging entrepreneurship. The company is of course building a market of Microsoft customers, but its initiatives have proven beneficial to African startups.
Most of Facebook’s activity in Africa has been around its Internet.org project, which by working to make internet access more affordable to more Africans is in itself a major bonus for the continent’s tech startups. But the company is working on having a more direct impact too.
Has long been active in Africa with its Umbono and Google for Entrepreneurs programmes, but seems to have gone quite quiet. Yet Google is still relatively active within the continent’s tech ecosystem, backing a couple of hubs across the continent and partnering some startups.
Not as “cool” as Facebook and Google, Cisco is nonetheless quietly getting on with a couple of initiatives serving African tech startups, in the acceleration and financing spaces.
The company has partnered Intel (see below) and Deutsche Telekom to launch Challenge Up!, an Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator for startups from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Meanwhile, Cisco Capital has launched easylease, a low-rate financing programme, in South Africa, in a bid to help SMEs invest in next generation technology.
A key partner in the IoT accelerator mentioned above, Intel has a direct impact on African startups through its work in the acceleration space across the continent.
Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found scoping out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem. He is co-founder of African tech startups news site Disrupt Africa and is based out of Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos. Tom was a speaker at last year's AfricaCom as well as a Com World Series media partner.