Posted by: crudbasher | June 14, 2012

Tech Incubators In Africa: Could This Change The World?

This week I am putting together a puzzle of ideas. On Monday I started with a story that most of Africa would have a smartphone in 5 years. Yesterday I wrote about how solar power is dropping in price quickly and worked best in places with lots of sun. Today I am writing about tech incubators in Africa.

This puzzle is leading up to a big thought for tomorrow’s post but I admit is a bit more obscure than most of my reader are used to, especially on a blog primarily focused on education. Trust me, this will all make sense tomorrow. (or else I will fall on my face heh heh)

(cc) Earthwatcher

When you are trying to create a new software product, it can take a year or so to actually get it launched, plus a few more years to even make any money (if you do). During this time how do you pay people and live? An incubator is a financing support structure that helps new tech startup businesses through the first few years so they can make a product. In return, the incubator gets a cut of the profits (if any). There are many of these incubators in the US that can help new products leave the ground. This latest story talks about how in the last few years there have been tech incubators established throughout parts of Africa.

What is interesting to me is that the infrastructure requirements for doing this (electricity, Internet connection, and computers) are a lot simpler than say manufacturing. It make sense to me that companies would be trying to grow software businesses there. Even manufacturing will be possible soon with 3d printing technology. Just put raw materials in one end and products pop out the end.

So here are the conditions I see in Africa soon:

  1. Solar energy based electricity at the source (meaning you don’t need powerplants and transmission infrastructure).
  2. Internet infrastructure based on mobile technology. (meaning you don’t need wire all the way to a house, just a neighborhood or village)
  3. In-situ manufacturing based on 3d printing. (this drastically reduces transportation costs)

What we have here is a crucible. What effect will all these pieces have on the society of Africa, and the world and how will it change education worldwide? I’ll finish up tomorrow.

“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.” – Red in Shawshank Redemption


    • The last several years have seen a blossoming of tech hubs and innovation centers across the African continent, as we reported earlier. In their wake, the growth of Africa-based venture capital organizations has turned a recognition of innovation into an anticipation of profit.
    • Tech Crunch’s Michael Butcher sketched a picture of the already-existing “accelerator and incubator” ecosystem there.
    • The latest to join this group is the Savannah Fund.
    • The fund is starting with $5 million and will grow to $10 million. The Savannah Fund describes itself as a “seed capital fund specializing in US$25,000-US$500,000 investments in early-stage, high-growth technology (Web and mobile) startups addressing the Sub-Saharan Africa market.
    • In addition to local investors, such as Mobile Planet’s Karanja Macharia, the fund is also being backed by Silicon Valley players, including Yelp’s Russ Simmons, Zynga’s Dali Kilani, Tim Draper, Dave McClure, and Roger Dickey. This Silicon Valley connection gives the fund not just proven international expertise but it also puts the shine on the apple. Silicon Valley, however limited in reality it may be, is still a globally recognized placeholder for success, talent, and access.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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