The big tech news is the recent torrent of capital to Africa Internet Group (AIG)—that owns online retailer Jumia and 9 other e-ventures. Recently, AIG announced €300 million ($326 million) in funding from backers including Goldman Sachs and MTN. CEO Sacha Poignonnec confirmed the new financing brings company equity to €1.005bn ($1.08bn). This clears the hurdle for AIG to become Africa’s first startup unicorn.
There are a couple key takeaways here. First, this big name money is a symbolic vote of confidence in the value proposition of e-commerce tapping Africa’s growing consumer power. AIG’s extensive startup network includes online platforms across hotel (Jovago), fashion (Zando), employment (Everjobs), real estate (Lamudi), and transportation (EasyTaxi) services.
Second, the recent growth of startups such as AIG and imminent fintech unicorn Interswitch indicate new dynamics in African markets. Even as Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy and oil-producer, takes hits from lower commodities prices and China’s downturn it is still producing billion dollar tech companies.
On tech creating new African opportunities, commercial drone startups on the continent have taken off. South Africa’s Rocketmine provides “aerial data solutions” in mining, agriculture, and civil engineering. It expects to book just over $1 million in revenue in 2016, CEO Chris Clark stated. Ghana’s Aeroshutter offers aerial photography, commercial property surveillance, and ads for a client list including Best Western, TEDx, and Vodaphone. Both ventures precede the anticipated debut of commercial drone delivery in Africa, which could be one to two years off.