If you know Silicon valley then Silicon Savannah is easy to explain, it’s the African version of the tech valley. Silicon Valley harbors the largest technology corporations in the world. Not only that, it is where you find the most promising tech startups. Silicon Valley was first given its name because of the many silicon chip creators and manufacturers there. The name gained much popularity in the early 80’s. Fast forward 3 decades, enter Silicon Savannah! A veld fire, phenomena, viral movement, a niche that will be worth a billion dollars in a few years.
Kenya, heart and soul
Trace the roots of the tech movement in Africa, they all go to Kenya. Between 2007 and 2010 Kenya’s tech has boomed. Operating under the moniker ‘Silicon Savannah’ Kenya’s tech has revolutionized Africa’s Technology industry. The term is a play on Silicon Valley and the grassland Savannah ecosystem that is a dominant feature of Kenya’s ecology. Silicon Savannah is tightly packed with youthful enterprise. Kenya’s tech industry is innovative and groundbreaking. One of Kenya’s biggest and most successful ventures M-PESA continues to lead the world in mobile money transfer. M-PESA has transformed into a case study for mobile money all over the world.
Africa’s Savannas are notorious for wild unstoppable veld-fires. Silicon Savannah is no exception, while it’s currently burning hot in one corner of Africa it’s spreading like a wildfire. Initiatives like the Total Startup Challenge, Innovation Prize for Africa among others are pushing innovators to do more. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Angola, Botswana, Rwanda, Egypt and Zimbabwe are among the top 10 technologically advanced African countries. There is in these countries such a drive for tech startups and innovation hubs.
Now let’s all calm down, this is fragile ground. For a guy who went through school using agriculture money I might be getting ahead of myself. While agriculture is Africa’s largest economic sector (represents 15% of the continent’s total GDP), I believe African governments need to realize the focus shift needed here. There are billions of dollars in the tech industry and the proof is everywhere. While some African countries have realized the potential in tech, some still insist on their youth going into agriculture. While there is nothing wrong with youth going into agriculture, the sector can only accommodate a handful, is resource intensive and needs vast experience for one to make it. Tech revolves around way much simpler dynamics like internet connectivity and computer literacy. This means even high school students can contribute significantly to the economy.
Tech in agriculture
E-agriculture (a term coined to the use of tech in agriculture) is something that African youth can contribute to. It is an emerging field focusing on the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes. This is a win-win for both the biggest GDP contributor and the ‘Fourth Industrial revolution,’ a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. The transformation that is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. The ‘great integration’ as I call it has already begun. We have already seen the creation of iCow, Cojengo, M-Farm, Esoko, EZ farms, Agro-Hub, Cocoa Link, Kilimo Salama, Backpack farmers and Modisar, all African E-agriculture solutions contributing to the growth of two vital sectors.
Billion dollar industry
According to Forbes, 4 of the top 5 most valuable brands in the world are tech companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook). Founded by youth under 30 years of age at the time, these companies are worth a whooping 364.4 billion United States dollars. Besides being tech companies, they have one thing in common, all were founded by technopreneurs who were less that 30 years of age at the time! Tech is rich and sizzles with potential and is youth-friendly. This is the single most important reason why there is need to invest in the youthful startups springing everywhere. The continent’s youth are growing more tech-savvy everyday. It is just a matter of time before we start taking on Silicon Valley. Far-fetched? Maybe. Impossible? Definitely not.
The rise of Silicon Savannah
ICT hubs are rapidly being born in Sub-Saharan-Africa. More and more countries in the Sub Saharan Africa region are jumping into the tech bandwagon. The notable innovations spaces across the continent are CCHub in Nigeria, Hivecolab in Uganda, Meltwater in Ghana, Silicon Cape Initiative, JoziHub, Innovation Hub and MLab Southern Africa in South Africa. These hubs give opportunities and resources to hundreds of entrepreneurs who would not otherwise have access to the knowledge or means to make their ideas a reality. Despite the reduction of tech startup funding around the world, Africa is actually realizing an increase in seed funding.
Two giants and why you must join
Kenya’s Konza City and Ghana’s HOPE City are both gigantic projects. Valued at US$8.5 billion and US$10 billion respectively, they are both ground breaking projects poised to change the continent’s tech movement. The two are evidence that this movement cannot be ignored, it’s here, it’s real and it’s action packed. It goes without saying then that the Tech movement is a bus every young African should ride on. Simple reason being, it’s a bus that is going very far!
Silicon Savannah is not just hype, its hope!!!