A research report tabled by GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator, shows there are currently 442 spaces that are actively supporting tech startups in Africa.
The purpose of the research was to quantify, just how many tech hubs are there in Africa. The 442 number includes accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, makerspaces, fab labs, hackerspaces, and other innovation centers.
GSMA also conducted a similar research back in 2016, and it established that there were 314 tech hubs across Africa. With the latest report, it appears 128 new tech hubs have been established across Africa in two years’ time.
The top African countries with the most tech hubs are South Africa (59), Nigeria (55), Egypt (33), Kenya (30), and Morocco (25). Combined, these five countries have 45% of all tech hubs in Africa.
The research also shows the fastest growing ecosystems on the continent, with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia topping the list with 200% growth in the last two years. Other countries that showed fast growth include Ivory Coast, Togo, and Nigeria.
The GSMA report also highlighted the crucial role multinational tech companies and telecom service providers have in the mushrooming of these tech hubs across the continent.
“The last couple of years have also been characterized by the rise of tech giant’s interest in the untapped opportunities of African markets. CEOs including Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Sundar Pichai (Google), and Jack Ma (Alibaba) visited major hubs from Lagos to Nairobi, corporate partnerships mushroomed and players including Amazon and Alibaba increased their presence all across the continent,” said Maxime Bayen and Dario Giulian, a co-author of the 2018 GSMA report.
“Before them, established mobile operators have been extending their footprint in the two regions by launching their own incubation, acceleration, or co-working spaces.”
The report also shows that things have not been smooth all along for the tech hubs. There is a good number of hubs that have had to shut down, but generally, the number of tech hubs setting up is more than those collapsing.