BY Mika Stanvliet 3 MINUTE READ

In the wake of the SA Investment Conference that took place last week, AfricArena, Wesgro and Silicon Cape hosted a press conference at the InvestSA One Stop Shop in Cape Town, making public new partnerships for the conference and discussing the role conferences and accelerators like AfricArena play in attracting investment to the continent.

Partech Ventures’ latest annual funding report shows that venture capital funding in 2017 reached $560 million, recording 53% year on year growth. South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria dominate with 6% of total funding. Francophone Africa is accelerating with 14% of the deal transactions and financial inclusion (off-grid tech, fintech and insuretech) representing 45% of deals.

The track record shows the trend is that African tech entrepreneurs are raising more and more funding. Yet, the amount of investment going to African tech startups represents less than $50c per capita, whilst in Europe the investment is $50 per capita, in the USA $150. Currently, less than 1% of global tech investment is into Africa whereas on the global scene, in 2017 the USA attracted $74 billion, Asia $71 billion and Europe nearly $18 billion.

“If we are to create the next generation of successful entrepreneurs competing at a global scale – clearly the challenge remains as an input and output measure to increase the level of capita that African startups attract,” states Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of AfricArena and Methys. ““It is predicted that in 2050 and 2100, there will be more than 50 cities with more than one million people on the African continent, and the majority of the most highly populated cities in the world will be in Africa. This is a very important factor in terms of being a fundamental underlying trend which is going to drive increasing investment in Africa, therefore we foresee the investment in African tech startups to exceed the $10 billion annual mark in the next decade.”

Based on internal research conducted in 2018, AfricArena, Silicon Cape and Wesgro expect the funding raised by African startups to increase by 100%+, exceeding $1 billion for the first time and achieve $1 dollar per capita, positioning Africa as the fastest growing area in the world.

“Another interesting thing is the emphasis we put on taking our startups to the bigger stages outside of the continent,” adds Danai Musandu, Investment Associate, Goodwell Investments BV, “You always find more people rushing to go to Silicon Valley to go see where the big stage and the content is. But we need to have a change of perspective and a change of attitude, where people will say ‘We’re going to Africa, where the big stage of the future is’. The biggest barrier is our perspective and we need to change that perspective.”

AfricArena is a pan-African ecosystem accelerator whose mission is to help African startups access market and capital. The primary outcome measure is investment deals done around the event.

AfricArena 2018 Announcements

  • Over 70 start ups from over 30 countries will attend, competing in 11 open innovation challenges
  • In partnership with We Think Code, AfricArena will run a hackathon on a mobility challenge for the City of Cape Town
  • EM Lyon, a world-ranked business school, joins as academic partner and will stream AfricArena live on its Casablanca, Lyon and Singapore campuses
  • Over 100 investors from US, Europe, Africa will attend or follow on the live streaming of the pitch sessions
  • AfricArena announced partnership with Deep Tech platform ‘Hello Tomorrow’ and a Deep Tech Africa challenge that will take place on Day 2 of AfricArena.
  • Silicon Cape members to receive early bird special of 50% off AfricArena tickets

EM Lyon is an international business school priding themselves in “making entrepreneurs for Africa”. They capitalize on the worldwide-recognized experience and quality of their programs and offer both students and corporations content that is tailored to their context and to their problems. EM Lyon is fully in line with their signature “early maker”: a school that tries, investigates and innovates far ahead of others.

Hello Tomorrow organises mentorship programs and a series of events around the world, as well as educating and consulting relevant stakeholders on emergence of deep technologies with the platform fast becoming a key reference in deeptech innovation and entrepreneurship.

Sarah Pedroza, Managing Director of Hello Tomorrow, states: “Deeptech innovation happening today knows no borders. But the opportunities and resources to catalyze these solutions are unevenly distributed. We need to give better tools to deeptech entrepreneurs in ecosystems that are booming, connecting them to a global network of industry leaders, investors and policy makers in order to bring their concepts to market. We’re excited to partner with AfricArena, joining their flagship event in one of the biggest tech hubs in Africa, which is a great opportunity to bring key stakeholders together.”

Finalists for the internationally sponsored challenges were also announced:

VINCE ENERGIES CHALLENGE – How to make energy more accessible in Africa thanks to energy efficiency solutions, energy flows optimization blockchain and/or AI – Rensource (Nigeria), BIG POT – Nigeria, Oniriq – Senegal

SAINT-GOBAIN CHALLENGE – A solution to upgrade professionals’ skills across Africa – Syafunda (South Africa), The Student Hub (South Africa), Ceed Learning (South Africa)

VIVATECH CHALLENGE – How AI can help generate a self-sustaining growth in the AgriTech industry – Agrocenta (Kenya), Homefarm (South Africa), Aerobotics (South Africa)

AfricArena will take place on 15 & 16 November. More information available at