The Rise Of African Tech Start-up Companies


Barakat Jooda, Editor

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie claimed in her Ted X speech, titled, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Africa is not just a continent full of catastrophes, there are other stories, and it is very important to talk about them, as much as we talk about the difficulties and catastrophes. It is important that we do not just hold on to a single story, because according to Adichie, when we do that, we rob people of their dignity and this makes the recognition of our equal humanity difficult. Oftentimes, we are fed a single story of what Africa is like and what the different African societies and people are like. There are often reports and news about poverty, diseases, crises, and overall inefficiency. There are hardly stories about technology advancement, refined economy, and the rise of a generation of start up companies fixing and solving the problems that Africans face in their daily lives, whether that be in medical/health, education, or financial realms. It is important to educate ourselves with the full stories of people and places, because that is how we get to understand and appreciate diverse societies. It is how we represent people and places with dignity and respect. We must begin to understand and embrace equality. 

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the development of start-up companies all over Africa, with many being founded and mainly located in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya. A start up company, as defined by Investopedia, is a company that is in the initial stages of business. There has been an immense growth in the development of companies and businesses across Africa, and this is a result of people taking initiative to solve problems that come up often and need to be looked at and taken care of. Unfortunately, many African countries have continually suffered under the hands of incompetent, underachieving, and overtly corrupt leaders who do not necessarily have the best interest of the people in their hearts. As a result of this, there are many problems that need to be solved and taken care of, which is where these start-up companies come into play.

Of all the different start-ups, technological companies have been the most popular and unarguably the most successful. These technological companies dive into sectors such as finance, health, education, food, and a lot more. One of the most popular financial technology (fintech) start-up companies to have pioneered this growth and popularity across Africa is Paystack. Paystack is a technology company that solves payments problems for businesses across the African continent. It was founded by Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade in 2016, and it became the first Nigerian company to be accepted into the tech accelerator Y Combinator program in 2016. This company has grown to be one of the most popular and successful companies, because it focuses on an issue that a lot of African businesses struggle with, the issue of payments- how can businesses accept payments in an easier and a more efficient way, and how can consumers purchase things without having to worry about a certain form or type of payment? According to, Paystack makes it easy for businesses to accept and secure payments from multiple local and global payment channels, and it also provides tools to help businesses retain existing customers and acquire new ones. 

Some other tech companies that have been very successful and have helped to provide solutions to some of the outstanding problems in African countries are:

  1. 54gene(Nigeria)
  2. Flutterwave(Nigeria)
  3. LifeBank(Nigeria)
  4. Mpesa(Kenya)
  5. Swivl(Egypt)

Africa has its problems, however, it is important to highlight the good parts. The rise of these tech companies disproves the single story that is constantly being fed to us by the media; the single story of how the African continent is nothing more than a place that is riddled with poverty. The growth of these companies proves wrong a narrative of Africa, that we have consistently and repeatedly been fed. It shows that like every other continent, Africa has both its good and its bad, and it is extremely unfair to the people, that they are constantly represented as nothing but poor people. 

The development of these companies does not just prove a certain narrative wrong, it also provides encouragement and motivation to young Africans. People who are unfortunately not thought about enough by the government in most African countries. They are provided with hope for the future and motivation that with hard work, anything can be achieved. In addition to this, the rise of these companies has led to more openings in the employment sector across Africa. There are more job opportunities and employment roles opening up for young Africans.