Some major companies are getting heavily involved in Africa’s tech space, with global mobile operator Orange leading the way in June.
The company has announced the launch of an Africa-focused arm of its early-stage investment program Orange Digital Ventures, US$56 million to the new initiative. Orange Digital Ventures Africa will invest in early-stage innovation projects, and will focus on the areas of new connectivities, fintech, internet of things (IoT), energy and e-health.
Other international firms are also stepping up their operations on the continent. London-based VC company TLcom last month confirmed the close of a US$40 million fund for African tech startups, while crowd investing company Trine raised US$6 million of its own to expand to Africa. Even Microsoft is backing entrepreneurs on the continent.
At the same time, June was a bumper month for investment into Africa’s tech space. There were rounds for South African startups Xineoh, Entersekt, WhereIsMyTransport and Drive Revenue, while Nigeria’s Tizeti also secured funding. Also on the funding trail were Ghana’s OMG Digital, Uganda’s awamo, Morocco’s WaystoCap, Tunisia’s Polysmart, and Egyptian startups Elmenus and Mintrics.
Taxi wars and an expanding Safaricom
Uber launched its real-time ID check functionality for drivers in Kenya, but the company faces more competition in Africa than ever before. Its major challenger Taxify has rolled out Taxify Cover, a customised insurance package for partner drivers and riders.
Kenyan competitor Little, co-launched by Safaricom and Craft Silicon, is already expanding to other cities in the country, launching in Kisumu during June, meaning Uber is battling on all fronts.
Speaking of Safaricom, the leading Kenyan mobile operator continues to be busy. Fresh from a new cash injection from Vodacom, the company is planning on taking its mobile money service M-Pesa to new African markets, notably Nigeria.
The operator is also in the process of conducting a major upgrade of its M-Pesa platform in Kenya, and is also set to roll out a music streaming service. Streaming of music and videos is becoming an increasingly hot space in Africa, with Malaysian VoD platform Iflix launching across the continent last month as well.
African cities are getting smarter, too. Though Rwanda has been leading the way, Ethiopia last month became the first African country to introduce smart parking systems. Microsoft is trying to encourage more investment into African countries, partnering the Nigerian government to digitise investment processes in the West African country.