At a recent tech conference, one Silicon Valley investor told me his strategy is to go where most traditional venture capitalists don’t. He plans to spend the majority of the year in Africa.
Why Africa? The continent’s one billion people are increasingly connected — at least 600 million have mobile phones. It is estimated that by 2040, Africa’s working age population will be the largest in the world.
Opportunities are rife, particularly in urban areas, but major hurdles exist for indigenous entrepreneurs. The lack of bandwidth is still an issue, and there is a shortage of both angel investment and venture capital.
At the inaugural DEMO Africa, entrepreneurs spoke about their startup ideas in the e-commerce and mobile space, which aren’t “a dime a dozen” like in Silicon Valley. As one on-stage speaker put it, “innovation is born from necessity.”
The overriding theme of the conference? “Mobile is changing Africa, and Africa is going to change mobile,” an attendee said.
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“Going between the two worlds, I can’t help but notice all the contrast between the cynicism about tech in the U.S. and Europe, and the excitement about it in developing countries,” said the documentary’s producer Jon Gosier in an email interview. “There’s so much going on in Africa that no one ever hears about.”