Africa's next big thing will be its tech startups, says Nigerian investor
Changing the continent's narrative will entail solving old problems while also harnessing the power of new technologies, says Akindele, a serial entrepreneur and investor from Nigeria.
Akindele told CNN the next big thing out of the continent will be the tech industry.
With more exposure and through encouraging creativity by giving innovators permission to fail, Africa can take its tech sector global, Akindele argues.
Africa's tech landscape is also increasingly attracting attention -- and funding. Between 2015 and 2021, total annual funding flowing into African tech startups has grown by 1,000 per cent according to the African Tech Startups Funding Report 2021.
According to the report, 125 tech startups in Africa raised $185 million in funding in 2015 but in 2021, 564 startups raised $2.1 billion.
Africa's tech ecosystem has seen the emergence of several unicorns. In countries like Nigeria, which is home to five of the continent's seven tech unicorns, these success stories are still largely seen as Nigerian and African and not truly global tech companies.
Akindele noted that taking African tech companies global would require more effort.
"A Love Affair with Failure"
Akindele has just released a book "A Love Affair with Failure: When Hitting Bottom Becomes a Launchpad to Success," jointly written with Olakunle Soriyan.
They argue that many people do not fulfill their full potential because they are afraid to fail. But without taking risks, innovations that could propel Africa's and the world's growth will not emerge.
"Failure is a good thing to engender curiosity and innovation. Everything that is a success today has its foundation in failing. To encourage more people in Africa to not be afraid, we are sharing relatable stories that will make them realize that no matter what they are going through, magic is possible," he told CNN.
Akindele noted that Africa's burgeoning fintech ecosystem is only about a decade old but he has high hopes for its growth in the global marketplace.
In early June 2022, it was announced that an African fintech company MFS Africa acquired Oklahoma-based Global Technology Partners for $34 million — a move that Financial Times described as "a rare case of an African group doing a tech deal in the US."
"I think an era is coming when African fintech companies will buy global financial institutions, forming a marriage, because by solving cash problems on the continent, they are [also] solving global cash problems," Akindele said.
Building the new Africa
Akindele is also the chairman of Platform Capital, a venture capital outfit that invests in tech companies across the world, but mostly in Africa. In May 2022, Platform Capital announced an investment in Zuri Health, a company that connects patients with affordable healthcare services via SMS, WhatsApp and a dedicated app.
Akindele noted that tech can be an avenue for Africa to quickly solve its problems, catch up with and overtake the rest of the world.