Ghana has emerged as a hub for African startups

2021-04-25 11:54:13
Ghana has emerged as a hub for African startups

Ghana has emerged as a hub for African startups alongside the continent's technology frontrunners, South Africa and Nigeria.

The West African nation also serves as the headquarters for the African Continental Free Trade Area, established to accelerate intra-African trade and freedom of movement, which have cemented Ghana's appeal as a gateway to the region.

"In Africa what has generally been considered the tech hubs of the continent have traditionally been Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya," says Kenya-based Kagure Wamunyu, who leads the expansion of Kobo 360, a digital haulage start-up that connects freight owners with lorry drivers.

Kenya in particular has successfully nurtured an enabling environment for the technology ecosystem and leads the pack when it comes to high levels of internet penetration, she said.

"So it was an interesting choice, but the move to Ghana is still a win for the continent."

Ghanaians are hoping their economy will expand further after several Western tech companies announced they will open new offices in Ghana, says Regina Honu, who runs Soronko Academy, a digital skills development centre in Ghana's capital, Accra.

"With other organizations coming in you see a lot of diasporans returning and there will be lots of other Africans looking to come and work in Ghana. Hopefully they will come in and engage with developing talent."

Her organisation is among a number of companies flourishing within Ghana's increasingly vibrant tech scene.

When George Appiah, executive director of Ghana Tech Lab, which helps develop innovation and entrepreneurial skills, started out almost a decade ago, there were only three technology hubs in Accra.

Today there are around 50 across the country, including the company he founded, Kumasi Hive.

"Compared to other countries where you might find the tech space thriving in only one city like Nairobi or Lagos, in Ghana we have the ecosystem growing in such a way that you have a lot of start-ups in Kumasi, in Takoradi, in Tamale and then Accra. It's very decentralised and that's a testament to the depth of the ecosystem."

In 2012 the government had very little interest in the sector, he says.

"Now we have a government who is appreciating the digital space and the role of tech start-ups.

"Efforts have been made gradually to provide policies to support start-ups. Local investments are growing over time."

He founded one of West Africa's leading software development firms, the SOFTtribe, more than 25 years ago and says he would have expected to see more home-grown firms or African social media platforms with clout.

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