The rise of innovation hubs supporting start-ups in Africa
The proliferation of innovation centres to support start-ups on the continent is driven by rising mobile and internet penetration, and Kenya is leading the way
A decade’s growth that radiated from Kenya’s "Silicon Savannah" has culminated in the establishment of hundreds of innovation hubs across the continent. Nascent technologies are helping to produce unique apps and solutions. Tech watchers usually point to 2007 as the year when Africa’s fourth industrial revolution started. That was when Kenya’s Safaricom launched its M-Pesa mobile cash-transfer service in a market that was short on conventional banking services but flush with basic cellphones. It was followed in the same year by the Ushahidi app, designed to track violence in Kenya’s contested presidential election. Within three years M-Pesa was moving millions of dollars internationally, Ushahidi had become a multinational tech company and iHub had been founded in Nairobi as a tech incubator by Ushahidi’s co-founder, Kenyan-raised American Erik Hersman. All this was enabled by a new undersea fibreoptic cable that dramatically increased East African bandwidth.