In 2011, there were just under 40 known technology incubators across the African continent. Today, that number has more than doubled with 57% of the continent’s countries being home to at least one “African Silicon Valley” by late 2014.
In total, the map lists 90 tech hubs in 31 countries, but there are probably more as the registration and establishment of tech hubs is not always formalised in every country on the continent.
Most hubs on the World Bank map (79) are either owned by entrepreneurs, corporates or the public, 10 are government-owned, 19 are owned by both government and private entities and nine are owned by academic institutions.
South Africa has the most incubators at 23 (the map lists 24, but has listed JoziHub twice), followed by Nigeria and Kenya (11).
“As might be expected, tech hubs vary a lot in their scale, objectives and business models. Some, like Smart Xchange in South Africa, aspire to be fully-fledged ICT business incubators, offering office space for start-ups to grow. Most, like Hive CoLab in Uganda, might be better described as pre-incubators, or co-working spaces, where entrepreneurs come together to shape and refine business ideas,” the World Bank said on its website.
“Some, like Rlabs or Jokkolabs, seek to grow through a franchise model, while others look to external seed funding from commercial partners, such as the Nokia Greenhouse Nairobi or from nonprofits, such as infoDev’s mobile applications labs (mLabs) in Nairobi and Pretoria. Other tech hubs begin life in universities, like the iLab at Strathmore, one of Kenya’s premier private universities,” the global financial institution added.
An updated report on the number of incubators will be published by the end of 2015 and the World Bank expects that number to have exceeded 150 in the last year. In theory, this is a positive move towards fostering local innovation across Africa, although there are still many challenges that face startups and entrepreneurs in getting their projects successfully off the ground.[Source – World Bank]