Africa’s Top 50 digital champions 2022

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Top 50 tech champions

By Jeune Afrique, The Africa Report
Posted on Monday, 25 April 2022 17:43, updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 16:17

For the second year in a row, The Africa Report and Jeune Afrique are publishing an exclusive ranking of the 50 people that are leading the continent's digital revolution. In order to give more visibility to these tech champions, we decided to shake things up by dividing our ranking into three parts. 

This is part 1 of an 11-part series.

The first part includes 30 names, a mix of start-up and corporate executives taken from a list of 112 business leaders that the the editorial team compiled. All of them have made news over the past 12 months (from 1 March 2021 to 11 April 2022).

They have either raised funds, seen the value of their start-ups rise, developed their business models, invested in new markets, financed projects, swallowed up competitors or sold their companies.

On the basis of this information, The Africa Report and Jeune Afrique compiled this list, which aims to reflect the tech sector’s evolution.

The number of investors on the continent that specialise in financing the digital sector is increasing each year. We have selected 10 investors and seed-fund operators that were active over the 2021-2022 period, taking into account the number of operations, the size of their funds, the type of the projects financed and the management teams.

Finally, because nothing would be possible without them, we have established a ranking of 10 ‘trend setters’, a broad category that includes regulators, public agency bosses, incubators, lobbyists and influencers.

In total, there were 216 names in our database for these three selections. The editors then studied each profile to compile the 2022 ranking of our top 50 digital champions.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options
Also in this in Depth:

Africa’s Top 50 digital champions: 30 leaders at start-ups, telcos and tech giants

They run Chipper Cash, Opay, Wave, TradeDepot, Andela, MTN, Vodacom, Orange, Google, Amazon, Terraco and Huawei. The African tech industry’s 30 most important bosses feature in our exclusive ranking.

The 10 investors at the forefront of the digital transition

Their names are often only known to specialists. We have selected 10 investment fund and seed fund managers specialised in financing start-ups.

Regulators, lobbyists, influencers: 10 trendsetters at the heart of the digital transition

Whether they are heads of regulatory authorities, lobbyists, incubator founders or influencers, they are working to accelerate digitalization on the continent.

Chipper Cash: American network, African success

Having raised $250m and earned itself unicorn status, the fintech firm, which owes its success in part to its founders' close proximity to Silicon Valley, had a wild 2021.

Is Senegal the new El Dorado for African developers?

The number of developers is growing faster in Senegal than anywhere else on the continent. But due to a lack of opportunities at home, some of them are forced to look overseas.

Mobile money: Coura Sène, at the crest of (the) Wave

A French-trained engineer, the regional director of American start-up Wave in the UEMOA zone embodies Senegal's success on the pan-African tech scene.

Google’s ‘Mr Africa’? Ten things to know about Nitin Gajria

Appointed chief of the multinational in Africa just before the Covid-19 pandemic, 43-year-old Gajria has not been able to travel the continent the way he would have liked. In March, he made one of his first official trips to Lomé to mark, with the Togolese government, the landing of the Equiano submarine cable.

‘We’ve done the heavy lifting,’ says Cassava Technologies’ Hardy Pemhiwa

For Liquid Intelligent Technologies (#167), the pandemic has produced yet another example of Africa leapfrogging. “We saw a five-times increase in data throughput,” says Hardy Pemhiwa, the chief executive of Liquid’s holding company, Cassava Technologies, recalling the huge demands suddenly placed on its vast fibre-optic network on the continent in 2020. Many companies were forced to digitalise to survive.

Cybercrime: African business leaders need to change their outlooks and approaches

The deployment of digital technologies in Africa has grown dramatically over the past two decades. The internet penetration rate, which was less than 1% of the population in the 2000s according to the World Bank, has now reached 43.2% (Internet World Stats, 2021), including 25% of users connected every day.

Start-ups: African champions in the consolidation era

Some twenty start-ups on the continent have reached the Series C financing stage. To maintain their growth rate, mergers and acquisitions are a choice option.