5 Hot African Tech Start-ups To Watch In 2013

There has never been a more exciting time in
Africa’s tech start-up community. The sector has
reached an unprecedented level of maturity and
growth. Africa’s techies and developers are no
longer building mobile apps, software and websites
just for the love of it; they are adopting a rather
aggressive approach towards business planning,
commercialization and profitability.
Take IrokoTV, for example. The digital distributor of
Nigerian movies has famously been dubbed the
‘Netflix of Africa’. When it launched in December
2010, IrokoTV depended solely on Google’s partner
program for all its revenue. Not anymore. While
IrokoTV is home to thousands of free movies, in
May this year, Jason Njoku, the company’s
maverick founder, announced that the company
would start charging users a $5 monthly
subscription fee to access brand new movies.
Similarly, Nairaland.com, Africa’s largest discussion
forum, historically depended solely on Google Ads
for its revenue. It ditched Google Adwords a couple
of months ago to start selling ads directly on its
Commercialization aside, innovation still reigns
supreme in Africa’s tech community. While some
African techies are still developing leisure games
and mobile applications (like the remarkable
MALIYO Games,which creates casual browser
games to share the experiences of everyday
Africans with a global audience), others are creating
disruptive new inventions that are providing
solutions to some of the continent’s most pressing
socioeconomic problems.
In my opinion, here are 5 spectacular African
tech start-ups that are most likely to shake up the
continent’s tech industry in 2013:
mVerified is a Kenyan mobile and web-based app
that verifies the authenticity of documents such as
title deeds, car log books and graduation
certificates in the course of transactions. The app
simply works by checking the credentials of
documents against data stored by Kenyan
governmental agencies such as the Kenya Revenue
Authority and the Kenya National Examinations
Council. Documents that fail to correspond to
official records are instantly flagged as potential
counterfeits. mVerified can be accessed online via
WAP or GPRS-enabled phones. While the system is
free to download as an Android application, it costs
roughly $7 to make a verification inquiry.
Mara Online
Mara was founded by Ugandan multi-millionaire
tycoon Ashish J. Thakkar in 2012. Mara Online,
which is Africa’s first online mentorship social
network, connects young, budding African
entrepreneurs to established, prominent enterprises
and businessmen who serve as mentors. The
mentors on the network transfer knowledge and
experience to the upstart entrepreneurs in order to
help them transform their ideas into sustainable
Kuluya is a developer and publisher of online
games based in Lagos, Nigeria. The startup
develops Nigerian-centric games with substantial
focus on African characters and themes. Kuluya
already has over 100 games in its portfolio with
such quirky titles as Monkey Run, Bush Meat and
Zulu and Mosquito. Earlier this year Kuluya raised
$250,000 from institutional investors. According to
Loy Okezie, publisher of Techloy, arguably Africa’s
most authoritative tech blog, Kuluya is poised to
‘provide an ultimate African gaming experience and
change the continent’s gaming landscape.’ All
Kuluya games are web browser games, for now.
BudgIT is a civic start-up developed by the team at
Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), Nigeria’s premier tech
incubator. The idea behind BudgIT is simple, yet
profound: to make Nigerian government budgets &
public data more understandable, accessible and
transparent. BudgIT leverages an interactive
platform and creative tools such as infographics
and charts to break down government budget
allocations in its simplest and most basic form to
enable Nigerians at all levels to understand the
budget better, thereby stimulating conversations
about open governance, data transparency and
citizen participation in governance.
Founded by Nimi Hoffmann, a South African social
science graduate student at Oxford University,
CorruptionNET is an open-source mobile platform
that allows citizen reporters to file anonymous
journalistic reports to newsrooms about corruption
and abuse of public resources. Citizen reporters can
report via SMS or MXit, an African social network.



9 thoughts on “5 Hot African Tech Start-ups To Watch In 2013

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