Entrepreneur

14 really cool African tech startups worth watching in 2014

Above: People in Africa using mobile phones.

This is a guest post by the managing editor at Burn Media Michelle Atagana.

Technology is becoming commonplace and Africa is frequently touted as the next big hub. The continent is heading into an interesting space of tech-savvy consumers and creators.

Africa currently has about 45 innovation hubs and co-creation labs, which are spread out across the continent. With more than 600 million connected mobile devices and a growing working class, entrepreneurship is perceived as a viable profession.

Foreign investors are also beginning to cotton on with big tech corporations making their presence on the continent known, Google, Microsoft, Intel and IBM can attest to the opportunities Africa represents.

These fourteen companies represents just some of the amazing things being developed in Africa and entrepreneurs disrupting industries.

22Seven

Money management systems are everywhere, if you have ever used Mint then 22Seven will make sense to you. The recently acqui-hired company is helping people manage their finances better. It tracks all your transactions and income and helps you visualize your spend. Compatible with most major banking institutions South Africa, 22Seven’s rocky start seems to be behind as it proves to be a geek favorite.

Hotels.ng 

At its core, Hotels.ng is an online hotel reservation service for the Nigerian market and visitors to the country, with the hopes of expanding to the rest of West Africa. The platform catalogues and verifies all the hotels listed. Users can book their hotels through the site but only pay on arrival and Hotels.ng take a commission from the hotels.

Tranzit

Dubbed the taxi app on steroids, Tranzit is not just about finding a cab and getting from one location to another.  The service also offers parcel delivery and also doubles as a discovery network. Users can search for places to go to in their neighborhood and things to do. The startup is hoping to revolutionize transportation and delivery pickup service in Africa and beyond.

Mellowcabs

Still on transportation, Mellowcabs is pretty cool. Its vehicles are electrically assisted pedal-powered cabs and they are free to use.  The service makes its money through advertising.  The idea is to bring online advertising offline, by displaying them in in-cab tablets. The tablets have geolocation software that automatically displays ads when a cab is near the advertisers business.

BRCK

Imagine you could take your internet everywhere with you? Even areas with no connectivity? Yes, that is what BRCK is solving Africa’s connectivity issues. The creators of BRCK describe the product as “the easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don’t have electricity.” Think it as a rugged router that can hop from network to network seeking out whatever signal it can find to connect to the net.

Obami

This education startup is quite interesting, think Facebook for schools. The platform allows for communication and collaboration within, and between schools. The service says that its platform is safe environment for kids to interact with each other and the adults in their lives. Education is a key industry in Africa that needs disrupting and Obami is working toward impacting how students learn and how information is organized across the continent.

SleepOut

This online accommodation marketplace claims to be number one in Kenya. What’s really cool about them though is not just about booking a place to stay but the way they play on social media. SleepOut also lists accommodations in rural areas and boasts a travel blog that users can share their stories on.

Leti Games

Fresh out the MEST program in Ghana, this startup is turning African folklore into mobile entertainment. Leti Games builds cross-platform experiences on mobile devices and digital comics to engage the content hungry African audiences with an internet connection. The idea according to Leti Games is to build African superheroes that can compete on the world stage.

Clinic Master

Healthcare is a big area that also requires innovation in Africa. This startup is working at getting medical information online and getting doctors connected. The way the company describes is “an integrated new generation healthcare information management and medical billing software”.

Zoona

Mobile money is Africa’s niche, everyone one is trying to get this right. Zoona seems to have the rights tuff.  Its solution is to take the issues out of cash heavy business environments in Zambia and Southern Africa. The company’s “proprietary technology” gives consumers the ability to make use of electronic payments via many Zoona agents. The services include money transfers, enterprise payment solutions and eVouchers payments.

Naija Workman

It’s hard to navigate the job market when you are small contractor or someone who deals in quick labour. This is the problem that Naija Workman hope to solve. The platform wants to shake up Nigerian’s underdeveloped local services market by providing a market place for people to find contractors and said contractors can find work.

Project Isizwe

In Africa access is a luxury. Project Isizwe doesn’t think it should be, so it is giving it away from free with the help of the government.  The idea, which as been rollout in one region, is to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to low-income communities. This way the startup believe it can use the power of an internet connection to promote education and economic growth throughout Africa.

Konga

E-commerce is the new social network. Africa’s ecommerce scene is on steroids and this particular fashion and electronic site, currently embroiled in a dispute with Rocket Internet over domain hogging, is hoping to conquer the continent. Konga offers free deliveries and cash on delivery services especially for Africa’s unbanked population.

UpEnergy 

This startup is tackling a number of problems. Tackle Africa’s poverty and health issues while protecting forests. To do this it is making clean energy technologies available to more people in the developing world through carbon-financed distribution channels.

Michelle AtaganaA fiery tweeter and digital native, Michelle Atagana has been hanging around the internet since she was eleven, back in the days of Netscape. Later on, her interest lead to her graduating with a Masters Degree in New Media and Journalism, and her position as Managing Editor at Burn Media.

She was named one of Mail & Guardian’s top young South Africans in 2012, writes a column about technology in Africa for CNN, judges occasional startup competitions and spends her free time working on the final draft of her PhD. But Mich says she’s just a girl, standing in front of a startup, asking them what their business plan is. Mich is also passionate about women’s rights and the African feminist movement. 


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