Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Innovation Hub

Interview: Qualcomm execs on mentorship for African startups

Qualcomm Technology VP for Engineering, Sudeepto Roy, and Elizabeth Migwalla, VP for Government Affairs, join Connecting Africa for an interview about Qualcomm's Make in Africa Mentorship Program.

Ten startups from across Africa were chosen for the inaugural seven-month mentorship program, part of the Qualcomm Africa Innovation Platform announced in December 2022.

The startups – based in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Rwanda – were selected from a pool of over 550 applicants from 34 African countries.

Roy and Migwalla spoke about the types of innovations they are hoping the program will help to create and how important diversity is in Africa's startup ecosystem. Roy said Qualcomm sought out women entrepreneurs to encourage them to apply for the program to improve gender balance.

"About 20% of startups [globally] are headed by women, but the amount of VC funding [for women-led startups] is in the pathetic single digits. Yet, if you go and look at small and medium enterprises, more than half are run by women. This is something that drives Qualcomm," Roy told Connecting Africa.

The selected startups are developing innovative products in clean energy, agricultural technology, computing for education, geospatial predictive analysis, medical technologies and innovations utilizing electric vehicles. Several startups also feature women in prominent leadership roles.

The Qualcomm executives also discuss how valuable the role of mentorship is in the process of building a successful innovation company and how the program has been designed to add to the continued growth of the continent's technology startup ecosystem.

"We realized that it's well and good to have adopters of technology on the continent but given where things are going with 5G being a platform that enables innovation and with Africa's young population, that youth dividend fits in very well with the capabilities that 5G can enable. We thought that if we could convert that into innovators and inventors, because remember they're the future consumers, that interface would create the kind of effect we've seen in other regions," added Migwalla.

"We believe that startups based in Africa are best placed to identify uniquely African problems that can be solved through end-to-end systems solutions and new business models," she said.

The shortlisted companies and their technology solutions are:

  • Ecorich Solutions patented organic composting in Kenya

  • Fixbot Vehicle diagnostics and inspection via OBD dongle in Nigeria

  • Karaa e-Bike tracking, charging, retrofit and rentals in Uganda

  • Maotronics Systems Limited IOT-enabled precision agriculture in Nigeria

  • Microfuse Affordable plugin computers for the education sector in Uganda

  • Neural Labs Africa Deep learning and computer vision for healthcare diagnosis in Kenya and Senegal

  • OneTouch Diagnostics Diabetes patch and monitoring system in Nigeria

  • QuadLoop Leveraging e-waste for solar e-lanterns and battery storage in Nigeria.

  • SLS Energy Recycled lead-cell battery storage banks in Rwanda

  • SolarTaxi Electric vehicle (EV) taxi and fleet management in Ghana

    — Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

  • Innovation hub

    Story

    KaiOS targets merchant market for growth, digital inclusion

    KaiOS Technologies, the creator of a mobile operating system for smart feature phones, is piloting affordable merchant payment terminals - which look like feature phones - in Africa to help underserved merchants and transport providers accept digital payments solutions.

    Story

    Ilara Health aims to improve quality of care in Kenya

    Kenyan healthtech startup Ilara Health aspires to improve the quality of care in the country's clinics by providing equipment financing and digitizing facilities with its software.

    More Innovation hub

    Latest video

    More videos

    Guest Perspectives

    Story

    Leadership Lessons: The importance of mentorship for career growth

    By Nollie Maoto

    Nollie Maoto, First Rand Group's compliance chief data and analytics officer and Africa Tech Festival Leadership Council member, reflects on the importance of mentorship for career growth for African women in data analytics.

    Story

    Omdia View: May 2024

    By Omdia Analysts

    May 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included African 5G subscriptions surpassing 5 million, growth from SpaceX's satellite Internet service Starlink, and a major fiber partnership in the Middle East and North Africa.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Industry announcements

    More Industry announcements

    Upcoming events

    Cyber Revolution Summit
    August 9, 2024
    Gaborone, Botswana
    Africa Tech Festival 2024
    November 12-14, 2024
    Cape Town, South Africa
    More Upcoming events

    Africa Tech Perspectives

    Story

    Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

    Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

    Story

    The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

    A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

    Story

    Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

    New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

    More Africa Tech perspectives

    Partner perspectives

    All Partner Perspectives

    Follow us on X

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up


    Sign Up
    Tag id test-002