TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS: THE RISE OF THE DIGITAL GHANA
From digital banking to e-commerce, technological innovations have changed the landscape of livelihood and how business is done in Africa. The growth of innovation and technology is pushing the bars high across the continent especially the three main hubs; Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town. For a continent that was mostly seen as largely undeveloped, the rise of a new wave of tech entrepreneurs across the continent has caused an eruption of tech solutions in addressing the basic needs of the people.
The growth of this space has been greatly influenced by the increased levels of mobile connections across the continent. Rapid smartphone adoption in large mobile phone markets like Nigeria and Kenya significantly changed the continent’s tech-savvy youth, ushering in revolutions in a myriad of sectors. the impact of Internet access via mobile devices on the continent has been a game changer. This has given birth to the growth of e-commerce, fintech, educatech, healthtech, and agritech across the continent.
The successful growth of the sector has also seen an increase in funding activities for most startups. In 2016, a total of 146 tech startups from across Africa raised funding totalling US$129.1 million. This demonstrated significant growth in the previous year in the number of companies raising money. South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya remained the three most popular investment destinations, followed by Egypt and Ghana. It is clear which countries are the most attractive to investors.
Venture Capital for Africa
Ghana’s digital revolution began with the establishment of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in 2008. The school also has an incubator. The school started the rise of tech entrepreneurs in the country though prior to its establishment, there were pockets of tech entrepreneurs. Ghana’s digital growth has been largely influenced by high mobile penetration. By the end of April 2017, the total number of mobile voice subscriptions was 35,984,280 while the total subscriptions of mobile data in the country were 21,584,899 with a penetration rate of 76.22%.
Of the various sub-sectors of the digital revolution, the fintech space in Ghana has been the most vibrant. Dominated by start-ups, these companies are rapidly changing the way money and financial services are handled by both individuals and corporates. From the simple payment gateway that allows customers to buy mobile phone airtime from their bank account through to apps that help customers send and receive remittances to their mobile wallets, these companies are having a massive impact on Ghana’s payment sector. This sector is dominated by the likes of Mpower, Slydepay, Zeepay, ExpressPay. This has led into collaborations between banks and insurance companies and most members in the payment sector.
E-commerce has not made a huge impact as most shopping is still done physically. Online shops like Jumia.com, Dziffa.com, Zoobashop etc promise the best quality products at affordable prices and delivered to a customer’s preferred destination.
Aside fintech and e-commerce, tech innovations have helped improve the process in other aspects of livelihood, especially in agritech. One notable product has been Farmerline. Farmerline, which delivers weather updates, the latest market prices and other details to his second-generation mobile phone is being used by farmers all over and this has helped improved their practice. There are others like Ghalani, which was set up in late 2016, which does data-collection as a key focus, digitizing any manual records farmers may have. It also gives farmers access to software to keep better records and make reports that could put them in a better position to get funding. Another CowTribe, uses mobile technology to connect livestock farmers in the Northern Ghana with veterinaries, while the start-up Hover uses drones to help farmers map out their land.
What do we think of the sector?
- We believe the game is just starting and there are several opportunities waiting to explode. The fintech space will get bigger. There will be increase innovations by banks and insurance companies in the coming years. Once a solution works in Ghana it can be tried in other countries in the region.
- E-commerce will pick up significantly as the middle class continues to grow. Electronic payments and Electronic fulfillments will play a major in the revolution. There will be a need to improve the infrastructure.
- There will be increased activities from VC funds and PE funds for start-ups in the coming years. Other stage funding will also be active especially for solutions that can work other parts of the world.
 Venture Capital for Africa
 National Communication Authority Ghana
 KPMG, Payments Development in Africa