What ails technology start-ups in Africa

Posted on December 4, 2012 10:24 pm

A reader of this blog sent me an email asking what I think regarding failure by African governments to facilitate growth of local technology start up companies. In my reply, I told him that countries in Africa have failed to create an enabling environment for first generation entrepreneurs due to financial limitations and low number of skilled and talented IT graduates but, I could be wrong. Apart from that, successive governments have failed to help engineers develop their careers beyond their university studies. Some countries have totally shunned even the idea of providing budding IT graduates with office space, guidance and a chance to hobnob with the stars of the tech industry.African countries must deal with impediments like red tape to a lack of innovation and a dearth of investors. Studies after studies have shown that African continent has one of the worst places in the world to start a business. The problem with Africa is that everything from getting electricity to credit is time-consuming and fraught with paperwork. African countries have not been able to build themself is easy access to equity, a pool of creative talent and first-world infrastructure. Africa has over 100 incubators that are mostly housed in universities and private entities that have failed to bring a strong network of advisers from the private sector.

I also feel African governments should help young upcoming entrepreneurs to create new companies and create jobs that will create new solutions and products. Otherwise, nothing will work in Africa because governments do not provide the right environment for a budding tech start-up. What an African entrepreneur need besides money is strong support in terms of advice. There are very few entrepreneurs in Africa as compared to developed world, and few have the expertise to be able to build, scale and sell strong enterprises. In many African countries, there are aspiring techpreneurs and optimistic financiers. Unfortunately, most of them are also struggling with a maze of regulations and half hearted government support. Africa’s entrepreneurship is the last recourse of the unemployed across the continent. African governments and private sector should aim to pluck innovators from universities, and bring them into the fold after evaluating their business ideas like has been the case in East African countries of Uganda and Tanzania where many of in house entrepreneurs are in their mid-twenties and early thirties.

Contador Harrison