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


    Interview: Juliet Ehimuan on Africa's next wave of innovation

    Juliet Ehimuan, founder and CEO of Beyond Limits Africa and ex-MD of Google West Africa, spoke to Connecting Africa about the next wave of innovation in Africa and the continent's digital future.


    InDrive enters Zimbabwe's Bulawayo

    Ride-sharing platform InDrive is expanding its services to Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo after successfully introducing its services in the capital of Harare in May this year.

    More Innovation hub

    Latest video

    More videos

    Industry announcements

    More Industry announcements

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Partner perspectives

    All Partner Perspectives

    Africa Tech Perspectives


    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.


    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.


    Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

    A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

    More AfricaCom perspectives

    Upcoming events

    Nextv Series Africa
    October 4-5, 2023
    Hotel Sky Sandton, Johannesburg
    Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
    November 13-16, 2023
    CTICC, Cape Town
    More Upcoming events

    Flash poll

    All polls

    Guest Perspectives


    Omdia View: August 2023

    By Omdia Analysts

    Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


    Omdia View: February 2023

    By Omdia Analysts

    In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up

    Sign Up
    Tag id I-0000192