African technology investment grows even amid pandemic


Photo credit: Emerging EdTech

Photo credit: Emerging EdTech

In the last year, life under the pandemic has brought many questions and considerations.

In the global move to halt the spread of the pandemic, public health was prioritised over other sectors of the economy.

Tech firms, start-ups and new, innovative ventures all faced uncertainty and many companies, including some of the biggest players in the industry, faltered, restructured or closed.

However, among the economic uncertainty and socio-political turbulence of the last year, African technology investment has remained steady and in some cases has even grown.

Tech giants, venture capitalists and tech investment firms have all placed their faith in the African tech scene and continue to invest in the industry as it grows.

Big tech and the African continent
In a report published earlier this year, FDI stated that in just the first seven months of 2020, roughly $831m was invested in the African tech and software industry. This is a mammoth increase from 2019 when $491.6m was invested in the African tech sector.

According to the FDI report, the area that saw the most interest was fintech, followed by e-commerce, agricultural tech, and tech-related to health services.

Big tech has historically invested more in regions such as Latin America and India. However, the growing investment rates illustrate that big tech firms are increasingly looking to Africa as a new and growing tech hub.

Lagos currently has a Google Developers Space and a Microsoft Africa Development Centre. Facebook has its African headquarters located in Johannesburg, and they are planning on opening a second satellite location in Lagos in the next few years. Microsoft is looking to develop a second satellite office and development centre in Nairobi in the next few years as well.

As big tech continues to expand and develop offices and centres across the continent, the tech industry will grow and mature.

The introduction of big tech firms means more than an injection of investment into an area.

It also means that infrastructure will develop to meet the demands of increasing numbers of tech users, and more talented engineers and tech workers will have the chance to work at big tech firms, hone their skills and then start their own ventures or help to foster the tech movement in their area.

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The rise of online casinos
Another sector that has continued to grow, despite COVID-19, is that of online casinos and mobile gambling platforms.

Online gambling has grown around the world since its inception in 1994 and there are now thousands of different providers, platforms and sites that offer every casino game and slot machine imaginable.

The very first online casino in Nigeria was launched in 2013 and since then the industry has expanded greatly as more and more people gain access to fast, reliable internet connections and mobile technology.

Some market researchers now believe that Africa will grow to be one of the biggest, most vibrant and exciting markets for online gambling.

The European market is viewed as being overly fragmented and pricey to operate in, and the US market is still quite small because a vast majority of the states prohibit gambling.

There are now so many online casinos on the market that it can be difficult, if not altogether overwhelming, to find the online casinos with the best bonus codes, terms of play and games offered, unless you are using an aggregator that compiles lists of the top gambling sites in your region.

Based on the increase in popularity of online casinos, it seems very likely that the sector will continue to grow and expand in the future.

A new market
Venture capitalists and angel investors are constantly looking to get in at the beginning of something new, whether that is a new company, a new tech trend or a region that is experiencing a tech boom.

Investors are reportedly looking to Africa as experiencing a tech explosion, where they can invest in growing tech earlier than other investors, and get into new companies and ventures at the ground level as soon as possible.

According to a study by the FT’s FDI, investors have started investing heavily in four African countries in particular – Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya.

These four countries have been termed the “innovation quadrangle” by investors, who are keeping a keen eye on the new companies developing out of those countries.

As tech use and investment increases, there will undoubtedly be a massive increase in innovation and invention out of the African continent.

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