Startups and Emerging Technopolis in Africa
Sine 2018 and during that year alone, over $725m was invested across 458 deals, up from $528m in the previous year. Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya lead the pack in terms of deal volume, with Lagos, Cape Town, and Nairobi topping the list of African startup ecosystems. Lagos’ ecosystem alone was valued at $2bn in a 2017 study, the most valuable in Africa.
Nairobi is perhaps the oldest and most developed startup ecosystem in Africa. As part of its commitment to staying ahead of the tech curb, the Kenyan government has allocated Sh12bn ($117.8m) to the creation of the Konza Technopolis. When complete, it will be the first smart city of its kind on the continent, boasting 5000 acres of commercial space, a data center, and the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
Agriculture is a significant contributor to the country’s GDP, and Kenya now dominates the agritech sector with a 23.2% market share and over $24m of investment. One agritech entrepreneur is Rita Kimani, co-founder of FarmDrive. In order to address the lack of data required for financial institutions to carry out risk assessments for farmers, she and her co-founder Peris Nyaboe set up FarmDrive to “look at a variety of datasets for farmers, from basic information, to behavioral data, to whether they have access to a market.” This allows financial institutions to determine the creditworthiness of smallholder farmers.
The African startup ecosystem has experienced a meteoric rise which can be seen in the following map.
We tracked a total of 359 equity rounds raised by 347 start-ups, compared to 250 rounds by 234 start-ups last year: representing +44% growth YoY in deal count.
347 African tech start-ups raised a total of US$ 1.43 Billion in 359 equity rounds.
This is quite remarkable. In such a challenging year, more startups have closed rounds than in any previous year. Activity has grown by almost half. No other region in the world has seen anything like this. The global interest for the African tech ecosystem remains strong even in the context of the global crisis driven by the pandemic.
In 2021, amid global VC growth, Africa tech still grew faster than any other region with 2x the activity of last year and more than 3x the amount invested : 681 rounds of fundraising brought in a total of $5.2 Billion. When we include debt, it’s even a total of $6 Billion in 724 rounds.
some strong trends stand out: the Nigerian ecosystem is growing impressively large; Fintech is attracting an outsized portion of total funding; the average ticket size is inflating at all stages and there’s been an influx of new active investors.
We define these as companies whose primary market in terms of operations or revenues is in Africa, as opposed to companies who are HQ’d or incorporated in Africa. When these companies evolve to go global, they will still be considered by this report as African companies.
Example: Zipline’s $250M Series E is included as an African deal. The majority of its operations and revenue currently come from Africa and this round was advertised as enabling the company to double down on Nigeria and Ghana for new distribution centers while serving a new contract in the US.
Type of Startups in Africa
Deals into three degrees of disclosure:
- Fully disclosed: these are rounds announced publicly and/or listed on platforms like CrunchBase, Tracxn, Pitchbook, etc. Major details of the round (series, round size, investors, etc.) are also available via public sources.
- Partially disclosed: these are rounds which are announced publicly, but the major details (especially round size) are withheld. In these cases, we complete the information by reaching out to entrepreneurs and investors confidentially and including the data in aggregates.
- Confidential: these are rounds which are not disclosed publicly. In these cases, we collect this data through direct and confidential engagement with investors and founders.
The charts below show aggregate metadata on the level of disclosure in the database entries:
- Fully disclosed: 50% of deals were fully disclosed in 2021. This is consistent with last year’s numbers; 52% were fully disclosed in 2020. In terms of the proportion of total funding, fully disclosed deals represented 85% of funding in 2021, vs 72% in 2020.
- Partially disclosed: Only 27% of deals were partially disclosed in 2021, down from 36% in 2020. A number of founders and investors chose to disclose the existence of rounds but kept details such as round size confidential.
- Confidential: 23% of rounds were kept entirely confidential – a significant increase from 2020, when only 12% were confidential. Most of the undisclosed and partially disclosed deals were Seed rounds.
We’ve said before that we hope to see more transparency in the ecosystem, as we believe it drives positive impacts for both investors and entrepreneurs. Trends from 2019-2021 are disappointing in this regard: there has been no strong improvement in access to deal data, and no recovery from sharp drop in the number of fully disclosed deals in 2020. However, 85% of the total amount invested in 2021 was fully disclosed. This is an increase from 72% in 2020 and suggests that it is the growing number of seed rounds that are being kept confidential, as opposed to larger rounds.
Fully disclosed and partially disclosed rounds amounted to 523 equity transactions from 487 unique companies. This represents 77% of the total 681 rounds. This is a drop of 10% from 2020, but at $4.713B, accounts for 90% of total equity funding – exactly as in 2020.
In 2021, 640 African tech start-ups raised a total of $5.2B across 681 equity rounds. This 3.6x YoY growth makes Africa tech VC the world’s fastest-growing ecosystem.
“We also expect there’ll be more African unicorn founders on the continent soon, but here are some folks we think are missing:
– Tope Awotona of the US’ Calendly was born in Nigeria (but this is likely the one accounted for in Nigeria)
– Abbey Wemimo of newly-minted American unicorn Esusu was born in Nigeria
– Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, co-founders of pan-African payments unicorn Chipper Cash, were born in Uganda
– Olugbenga Agboola of Nigeria’s Flutterwave was born in Nigeria
– Mitchell Elegbe of the first Nigerian unicorn Interswitch was born in Nigeria
– Iyin Aboyeji who co-founded unicorns Flutterwave and Andela was born in Nigeria
Recent List of Africa’s Unicorns
In 2021, we tracked a total of 681 equity rounds raised by 640 start-ups. This is a 92% increase in growth YoY compared to the 359 rounds raised by 347 start-ups in 2020.
Now in its sixth consecutive year of growth above and beyond expectations, we’re running out of superlatives to describe the African tech ecosystem.
681 equity rounds above $200K sets a new record. It indicates a super-active ecosystem, where almost 3 deals are closed every weekday.
The number of deals almost doubled, increasing by 92% YoY. This rate of growth makes African tech one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in the world. In 2021, it accelerated significantly, far outstrip- ping the past 6 years’ growth with a CAGR of 45%.
African start-ups raised a total of $5.2B equity funding in 2021. Up from $1.43B in 2020, this amounts to a+264% growth YoY.
In almost every year of reporting on Africa tech VC, a new record has been set. But $5.2B is a truly extraordinary milestone. It’s more than the total amount raised in the last 4 years combined.
2021 also saw the highest annual growth we’ve ever recorded, at +264% growth – 3.6x the previous year.
This puts African tech ahead of even LATAM, and indeed the rest of the world. It’s growing 3x faster than global VC investment, which reached $643B in 2021 at a growth rate of +92% YoY.
While there’s been an acceleration across all round brackets, total funding was driven by a re-surge in large rounds (i.e. rounds above $50M).
It’s clear that large rounds and Megadeals are back, after a complete pause in 2020. In 2020, there were only two rounds recorded above $50M; in 2021 there were 21, almost 10x more than the year before. Meanwhile, the amount invested in this bracket increased 21x.
A bounce back isn’t surprising after a year as quiet as 2020. But even compared against 2019, when these Megadeals first started gathering pace in Africa, 2021 saw more than double the number of Megadeals and 3x the amount invested.
As for large growth tickets, deal count in the $20M – $50M bracket doubled from 14 to 28 – again, a step up in the growth seen in previous years (36%).
Added together, all rounds equal to or higher than $20M accounted for more than 72% of total funding.
Source: Article Based on Compilation from Findings by several studies and Partech Analysis