The Joe Biden administration is eager to start discussing how it can apply its ‘build back better’ mantra to commerce with Africa when it ... virtually hosts the continent’s trade ministers this week. For their part, America's African partners want to make sure that Washington doesn’t bulldoze their two-decade-old, duty-free access to the US market in the process.
Even in the midst of the Covid-19 storm, when the global economy was at best sluggish, the tech industry demonstrated iron-clad confidence.
Tech investors and entrepreneurs held their breath, convinced that the time would come to unlock the big deals, the ones that turn the tech equivalent of regional racehorses into gold covered unicorns (valued at over a $1bn).
$100 million for Chipper Cash
Nigerian company Chipper Cash is one of them. With a $100 million Series C round of financing that closed on 31 May, the payment services company founded by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled has joined the ranks of the international tech elite and confirmed the return of big deals in Africa.
Backed by the investment fund of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, the California-based start-up is far from the only one to have raised several million dollars this year.
“More than twenty start-ups have raised more than $10m each since January,” Maxime Bayen, an investor well known in the African tech ecosystem for his work of monitoring fundraising on the continent, told Jeune Afrique.
A variety of sectors
In addition to the Nigerian financial technology firms Flutterwave and Kuda, other companies from different sectors have also finalised major deals.
This is the case of the Moroccan real estate advertising platform Mubawab, which received a $10m deal from the Dubai-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) in early March to continue its development in North Africa and the Middle East.
In the solar sector, Kenyan company Sunculture raised $11m in mid-February, as did agritech WeFarm, whose first round of financing was completed in March.
More recently, WhereIsMyTransport, which provides big data solutions for mobility, raised $14.5m from Naspers, Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund and Japanese company SBI Investment.
In Egypt, the e-commerce platform Homzmart raised $15m in its first round of financing led by the Chinese fund MSA Capital and the Dubai-based Nuwa Capital.
A record year?
In total, 280 start-ups have raised funds since the beginning of 2021. A new record could be set this year, since according to Bayen, the billion dollar threshold raised on the continent has already been reached more quickly than in previous years.
It took 46 weeks in 2019 for African start-ups to raise $1bn, compared to just 21 weeks in 2021.
For now, the South African and Nigerian ecosystems are the ones that are attracting the most money.
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