As the need for great tech talent increases, hot tech hubs are popping up around African countries as excellent places to join together, create communities and foster growth.
Africa faces some hurdles in developing information technology. Even though global Internet penetration is about 32%, it’s lower in Africa, where only around 11% of the population have access to the Internet through a computer or mobile phone. Within the continent, too, there are enormous divides. While a country like Nigeria has 28% of its population online, Ethiopia has less than 1%. But all that is changing: Internet usage in Africa has grown faster than on any other continent over the past decade.
The rate of change in technology is immense. Technology is transforming our habits and the routines of our work and personal lives. This rate of change means technology companies have to be constantly innovating and creating to compete, therefore it’s increasingly important for companies to be prospering in the right environment, both culturally and geographically.
From web designers and digital marketers to developers and angel investors, a growing tech. company needs to have access to the best talent in all aspects of the sector. It also needs to be able to establish itself in a culture where people are connected and where networking is of paramount importance and intrinsic to work life.
Today, Africa has had some amazing spurts of open innovation community that builds the most forward-thinking, innovative and creative young minds.
Here’s a closer look at top 25 Tech-hubs in Africa:
Hiv coLab – UGANDA
Hiv coLab is an innovation and incubation hub, a collaborative co-working space for Uganda’s business and tech community. They are the first Tech Hub in Uganda collaborating with academia and private sector to inspire the next generation of Ugandan Technologists to build and develop apps, guiding youth into creativity and innovation to produce quality and world class technology! They facilitate Genius and accelerate emerging companies’ development by providing hands-on assistance during vulnerable start-up years.
iLab – LIBERIA
The iLab’s mission is to assist IT professionals as well as organizations and institutions in their efforts to more readily share information using ICT. Specifically, they offer trainings in open source tools and systems because they promote interactive communities and shared ownership. Other iLab trainings range from how to start your own blog to managing inconsistent power supply. iLab is also a space for local meet-ups and for local and international organizations to host events that are in-line with iLab’s mission.
ICEADDIS – ETHIOPIA
iceaddis is a collaborative work environment. It is the first innovation hub & co-working space in Ethiopia established in May 2011.They facilitate creative projects and events. It is partly open community workspace, vector for investors and pre-incubator for young energetic tech- entrepreneurs. Their collaborators share ideas, pool resources, use ICTs effectively, make effective use of product development projects, access business and life skill trainings, and transform ideas into viable businesses.
iceaddis is offering a place for exchange, work and the support for innovative project ideas, that are related to local demands and development. Mainly young university graduates and startup founders are using the iceaddis facilities and connect to the developer and technology community. Educational institutes, government organizations, NGOs and regional companies are getting involved in iceaddis’ creative community to generate new ideas for their service or develop and test projects.
SMARTXCHANGE – SOUTH AFRICA
SmartXchange is an incubator whose core mandate is to provide enterprise development services to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME’S) in the Media, Information Communication Technology and electronics sector. SmartXchange manages a programme that identifies and assists in developing quality skilled MICTe SMME’s in KwaZulu Natal and also to build a pool of skilled MICTe workers that will enable KwaZulu Natal businesses to flourish. SmartXchange partners with corporates from the MICTe industry, tertiary institutions and the government sector to work towards up skilling entrepreneurs and the youth. Through these partnerships, SmartXchange is able to also contribute towards the creation of sustainable jobs, economic growth and the competitiveness of the province.
RLABS – SOUTH AFRICA
Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) is a global movement and registered Social Enterprise that provides innovative solutions to address various complex problems. It was founded by Marlon Parker in 2008 as an environment for community driven innovation and reconstruction. RLabs creates an environment where people are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. The RLabs “main hub” is in Athlone, Cape Town but have activity in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Its core activities are skills and training, community development, social and disruptive innovation, mobile and internet solutions, social enterprise incubation, impact investing and social franchising.
KINU – TANZANIA
Kinu is a Social Enterprise with the mission of concentrating, growing and accelerating the Tanzanian tech and social landscape. An open space for Tanzania’s tech community to foster a culture of co-creation, spark innovation and augment capacity building. The Tanzanian tech scene needs to be brought together to form a community, develop a culture of co-creation and innovation which will become the catalyst for growth and capacity building.
The KINU Hub is the collaborative space needed to enable the community to participate into the co-creation process and make a joint effort to generate new solutions to social challenges.
The Innovation Hub is sub-Saharan Africa’s first internationally accredited and leading science and technology park. Established by the Gauteng Provincial Government in 2001, The Innovation Hub has created initiatives that support innovation; enterprise development and development for over 14 years. The targeted sectors are in ICT and advanced manufacturing, green economy and biosciences in order to contribute
towards the growth of the economy, creation of decent jobs and poverty reduction in Gauteng. Strategically located in Tshwane, South Africa’s executive capital and ‘smart’ province, The Innovation Hub has become a regional centre of innovation and knowledge creation, linked to the fast moving world of global interconnectivity.
JOZIHUB – SOUTH AFRICA
Jozihub is a co-creation space in Johannesburg dedicated to creating sustainable change in Africa. They foster a culture of openness and innovation – providing a space to share ideas, collaborate and explore the opportunities created by the social and technological changes which are transforming our continent. In addition to providing a stimulating working environment they provide their members with access to a network of innovators and inspirational events and activities.
iSPACE – GHANA
iSpace is a unique environment where technology startups can start up faster. They nurture a local network of like-minded and focused entrepreneurs, providing space for them to work, meet, collaborate, learn and have fun. By getting the right people together in a physical space, good things happen.
iSpace is an expansion of a successful initiative that offers startups with a dedicated co-working space, community gathering point and network for driving entrepreneurial success. iSpace is a non-profit organisation, funded by membership fees and sponsor partners.
OUTBOX – UGANDA
Outbox help new and upcoming African entrepreneurs interested in using technology to build high growth companies with workspace, mentorship, and training programs. Through their partnerships, they help them raise money for their ventures and access markets. They also work with students, developers, researchers and organizations to build inclusive communities that entrepreneurs can tap into for talent and collaboration.
SWAHILI BOX – KENYA
SwahiliBox is a project of M-Power (CBO). The Technology Open Space in Mombasa, Kenya which focuses on socio-economic technology empowerment, inspiring and developing individuals and help them develop new and innovative ideas through networking, access to training and support and professional mentoring and coaching. It brings together investors, donors, entrepreneurs, experts, artists, and other individuals and provides them with an opportunity to share knowledge, learn, find mentors and expound on their talents, abilities and innovative ideas that will lead to the development of Kenya and globally at large.
KLAB – RWANDA
kLab provides an open space for IT entrepreneurs to collaborate and innovate in Kigali, Rwanda. kLab (knowledge Lab) is a unique open technology hub in Kigali where students, fresh graduates, entrepreneurs and innovators come to work on their ideas/projects to turn them into viable business models. The growing kLab community is also made of experienced mentors who provide both technical and business assistance to needy members. At kLab they also host events, workshops, bootcamp, hackathons and networking sessions to promote collaboration/partnerships, investment and financing.
kLab’s mission is to promote, facilitate and support the development of innovative ICT solutions by nurturing a vivid community of entrepreneurs and mentors.
MELTWATER ENTREPRENEURIAL SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY: GHANA
A nonprofit starts a school to train the next generation of tech entrepreneurs—and then funds their projects. Meltwater graduated its first 20 students in 2010 and 20 more last year. The graduates can then use seed funding of between $30,000 and $200,000 to develop software businesses that will reach both Ghanaian and global markets.
One example of a recent startup is Dropifi, a web messaging platform which helps companies better analyze, visualize, and respond to incoming messages from contacts. Last fall it took top honors at the Accra Startup Weekend.
One of the first tech hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa, ActivSpaces serves to engineer socially responsible investment and the incubation of African small and medium-sized enterprises. One thing Cameroon has going for it? A ballooning population of young people—40% under the age of 15—many of whom are online and engaged.
One example of a project is Bisou, a motion-activated streetlamp. When motion is detected, the light comes on and a piece of music or a public service announcement can be played, helping out parts of cities that can’t afford to keep the lights on all the time, but want to reduce crime.
iHub just won $150,000 in funding from Google to expand its operations. Acting as a more traditional incubator, iHub seeks to connect entrepreneurs with funders. Membership is open and free to those who work in programming, design, or research, but different levels of membership open up different opportunities.
iHub supported the creation of M-Farm, a mobile-phone service that delivers real-time information to farmers on current market prices, weather alerts, and agro-supplies in their area. It also brings farmers together to buy or sell their products in groups, helping them to gain access to larger markets.
M-Farm enables farmers to carry out a cost-benefit analysis before deciding where to sell their products, with voice controls in both English and Swahili.
CO-CREATION HUB: NIGERIA
Co-Creation calls itself a pre-incubation space, where work to catalyze creative social tech ventures can take place. It recently launched Ideas 2020 a crowdsourced platform to gather citizens’ ideas to improve Nigeria ahead of the year 2020, when the country is expected to be one of the largest 20 economies in the world.
CcHub is supporting Budgit, an online platform that uses infographics to make the Nigerian government budget easier for citizens to read and understand. The platform was born out of the Hub’s training series, which focused on good governance. Budgit went live in September last year, posting 100,000 hits in its first month online.
BOTSWANA INNOVATION HUB – SOUTH AFRICA
The focal point of Botswana Innovation Hub, BIH is to provide state-of-the-arts buildings and facilities to attract domestic, regional and global companies to locate business as well as research and development activities within the Park, and promote technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship. This is anticipated to create downstream job creation in new manufacturing and services enterprises. The Science and Technology Park offers high quality road infrastructure, street lighting, and power and ICT connectivity. In addition to the facilities, BIH offers special incentives to companies and institutions that are registered with it.
WENNOVATION HUB – NIGERIA
Wennovation Hub, a startup business incubator and accelerator that draws upon a rich pipeline of entrepreneurial ideas emerging from Nigeria youth in Nigeria and among the Diaspora, leverages access to a network of contacts, space and broadband into fast-paced prototyping and business development.Finally, the Wennovation Hub mobilizes internal and external network to seed and fund businesses emerging from the platform. Ultimately, the Wennovation model gets entrepreneurs from ideas to market-ready in less than 6 months!
JOKKOLABS – BENIN
JOKKOLABS is an action-orientated ideas laboratory.
Derived from the universe of the hacker communities and the open source culture which are behind the internet revolution, our approach is naturally inclusive.
Innovation is a bottom-up process meaning that a local innovation can have a global impact – irrespective of whether it comes from the north or the south parts of the world. We think of and experiment new ways to answer non satisfied social needs in health, agriculture, education (primary) and new medias/good governance.
eMOBILIS – KENYA
eMobilis Mobile Technology Institute is a training institution that was founded in 2008 and is the first of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa – it focuses on training individuals on Mobile Software Development, as well as Network Infrastructure Management.
AFRINOVATOR – KENYA
Afrinovator operates as both an innovation incubator and as a boutique software company. The organization works with a surprising range of clients on diverse projects: translation, mobile apps, Facebook apps, software development, market research and reports, data analysis and visualization, infographics, graphic design.
AWELE ACADEMY- NIGERIA
A non-profit, WAAW (Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women) foundation starts a training institute in 2016. Awele Academy is an immersive software engineering school for African women that also focuses on Technology Leadership and Entrepreneurship. They provide a world-class educational environment with an advanced curriculum, taught by experienced instructors. They connect students with a support network of alumnae and mentors and work with local and global tech companies to get them recruited.
HIVE COLAB – UGANDA
Hive Colab is an open community collaborative innovation coworking space for the tech community of Uganda. It offers a collaborative space where people can meet, learn from one another, share knowledge, find mentors, start and grow their businesses. It supports both social and business innovations from just an idea to a full scale operating business. They offer business and legal advice, as well as tech training and events. They are currently supporting a number of start-ups, including an initiative that allows citizens to report on water and sanitation problems, a social education platform, healthcare information management system and another aimed at helping SMEs keep track of their budget and expenses.
SENSI – SIERRA LEONE
Building a tech innovation community in Sierra Leone’s capital, Sensi’s mission is to create an open community space where technology and entrepreneurship intersect, to build the next generation of innovative solutions and businesses in Sierra Leone.
FOCUS HUB – NIGERIA
Focus hub Nigeria is a new technology entrepreneurship and social innovation hub. it is a non-profit community center/hub where startups, SMEs, entrepreneurs, IT developers and programmers, impact investors, students, corporate and private organizations meet and interact for the purpose of technology and knowledge transfer, mentoring, training, incubation and networking. The ultimate aim being to drive economic growth, create jobs and enhance the competitiveness of the Niger Delta. By using set techniques and strategies, Focus hub is able to provide Start-ups with the assistance they need to grow an idea to a full-fledged business that can win. They believe in developing the entrepreneur alongside the business as it is crucial to ensure business survival and growth. At every stage of the business lifecycle, the needs and requirement of each business varies, they provide services that are flexible and fit those needs.
Related links to list of tech-hubs in Africa: