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Emerging Tech

Connecting Africa Podcast: S3 Ep. 1 Trending topics in 2024

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The Connecting Africa Podcast is back for season three.

Hosts Tobi Lafinhan, Paula Gilbert and Matshepo Sehloho are delving into more African tech topics and speaking to key figures adding to the continent's digital revolution.

On the first podcast of the season, the team got back together to discuss some of the interesting trends that have caught our eye and some of the startups and companies making their mark in key industries.

Social commerce

First up, we talk about the rise of social commerce companies that are selling products through social media and how tech startups are developing tools to help social commerce players grow their businesses.

We discussed startups like Tushop, which allows group-buying of grocery orders within communities, in Kenya and Brimore, which connects emerging brands with a network of individual distributors, in Egypt.

We also look into Nigeria's Bumpa, which helps businesses build their websites, issue invoices, record sales, receive financial reports and manage all business operations via an app; and Kenyan startup Marketforce, which has built a business-to-business (B2B) commerce and fintech marketplace for informal merchants.

Artificial intelligence

The next discussion topic was around artificial intelligence (AI) and the world's current obsession with it, with a number of African startups working with AI for very different applications.

AI is changing how companies do business – from South African digital identity startup iiDENTIFii's AI-powered face authentication technology, to South African business-focused AI chatbot solution GotBot and Kenya's AIfluence, which uses advanced algorithms to identify micro and nano influencers on social media and match them with companies looking for influencer marketing.

Smartphone affordability

Another important discussion was about smartphone affordability and the rising trend of solutions and startups that are working to make devices more affordable to bring more Africans online.

There have been a number of smartphone financing programs from telcos like MTN, Airtel and Safaricom and a surge in buy now, pay later (BNPL) startups, which allow consumers to purchase smartphones via a deferred payment plan.

We talk about some BNPL companies like Nigerian Zilla, Kenyan Lipa Later and South African platforms Payflex and PayJustNow, which offer digital lay-bys for gadgets, as well as Kenya-based Badili, which sells pre-owned smartphones.

There has been a rise in BNPL startups, which are helping more Africans own smartphones and other tech gadgets via deferred payment plans.   (Source: rawpixel.com on Freepik)
There has been a rise in BNPL startups, which are helping more Africans own smartphones and other tech gadgets via deferred payment plans.
(Source: rawpixel.com on Freepik)

There are also companies – like Lagos-based Intelligra, which offers a mobile financing solution that integrates with device manufacturers, banks and mobile network operators; and KaiOS, creator of a "smart feature phone" mobile operating system – that are helping solve device affordability issues in Africa.

Climate tech

Next, we dive into the murky waters of climate tech and share our confusion over what exactly classifies a company as climate tech.

We discuss the rise in funding for "planet positive" startups and how this trend is pushing startups to classify themselves in this space.

Climate tech often refers to companies that are working in agritech, like Cameroon's Agrix Tech, or green energy, like Tanzania's Waga and Ghana's Easy Solar, but it is also hard to define.

The hosts agree that focusing on climate-improving solutions is important for the world in general, but also question whether this space is really designed for startups.

We also ponder the criteria used for startups from major accelerator funds like Catalyst Fund, which has a climate resilience portfolio including insurance companies and emergency medical services alongside agritech and recycling businesses.


Want to find more Connecting Africa Podcasts check out our Podcast Archive here.


Coming up in season three of the podcast, we will speak to more startup founders and interesting personalities in Africa's tech ecosystem so stay tuned for new episodes dropping soon.

If you want to catch up on all the previous episodes, you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts; Spotify; Google Podcasts; or find other podcast platform options on our main page on Spotify for Podcasters.

You can also find the podcast hosts online here:

Paula Gilbert (@paulajgilbert)

Tobi Lafinhan (@TobiLafinhan)

Matshepo Sehloho (@tsokamatshepo)

Related posts:

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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