In recent years, stories of an “African technological renaissance” and extraordinary promises of the “SiliconSavannah” and other technology centres in Sub-Saharan Africa have been abundant in the media. The hype reached its climax during US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Global Entrepreneurship Forum in Nairobi.
Francophone Africa had been remarkably absent from this media coverage, with the eyes of the world focusing largely on the prominent Anglophone countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana. So, out of the 30 best performing start-ups that will be competing in the next competition, DEMO Africa, only three are from French-speaking countries: two from Cameroon (which is also half Anglophone) and one from the Côte d’Ivoire.
There is a general consensus that the technology sectors in Sub-Saharan French-speaking Africa are lagging considerably behind their Anglophone counterparts. However, technology in Francophone Africa seems ready to rise to the challenge with the emergence of promising new projects in tech innovation.
Some indications of the potential sources of the problem include the fact that Francophone entrepreneurs are still limited to a greater extent by their lack of financing than their English-speaking counterparts. The majority of the providers of financial capital are Anglo-Saxon investors, who are more reluctant to invest in French-speaking Africa and are less likely to know about its start-ups. In fact, by comparison to English-speaking countries, French-speaking Africa is practically devoid of the needed investors to really jump start tech incubators. Here is a map of all the startup incubators, IT Hubs, co-working spaces and IT Labs on the African continent