How Startups across Sub-Saharan Africa are Leveraging Technology and Changing Lives

Countries across Sub-Saharan Africa have faced innumerable challenges, issues and impediments to growth throughout the 20th century and the first few years of the 21st century. While global organizations such as the United Nations have consistently tried to provide aid and development efforts to the continent, they have often failed at bringing change in the grassroot level. But there has been a very interesting development, or rather, series of developments in the past few years that indicate a dramatic shift in Africa’s economic growth.

One such development is the explosion of internet usage and mobile phones across the continent. According to a recent report by GSMA, internet penetration will increase by 130% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today Sub-Saharan Africa alone can boast of having around 211 million internet users. Mobile phone usage has also increased dramatically. As of 2017, overall mobile subscription penetration was 44% a sharp rise from 25% at the start of the decade. GSMA states that the mobile industry’s contribution to the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa is $110 billion and the mobile ecosystem has created 3 million new jobs as of 2017. Another major development is the large youth population. Africa’s population is predominantly young, with approximately 200 million people aged just between 15-24.  All of the world’s top 10 youngest countries by median age are in Africa. A young, aspiring population combined with technology penetration has led to great potential for economic development. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2034, Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion. In Sub-Saharan Africa, cellular-enabled machine-to-machine connections are expected to grow by around 25% per annum to 30 million by 2020, according to GSMA Intelligence, changing the game in sectors from healthcare to power.

Perhaps, among the best examples of growth in the African economy is how several startups have launched and impacted the lives of those around them. The meQasa App in Ghana is one such example. Finding suitable accommodation in Ghana used to be a daunting process, until real estate platform meQasa burst onto the scene in 2013. meQasa has improved the real estate sector in Ghana by providing a platform that helps property seekers, brokers and landlords conduct business efficiently online. In a few years, the company has seen remarkable growth, featuring nearly 18,000 property listings. In 2016, meQasa has been nominated for several of awards for the strides it has made in making finding property in Ghana a breeze.

Music and art are essential aspects of every culture. The NerveFlo app based in Nigeria has provided an online platform for content sharing. NerveFlo allows digital content creators to rapidly distribute their work to the ever-growing African market. Here you can find anything from short films to music to comics, lectures and e-books. The platform also gives young African artists the opportunity to showcase their works to the global market.

Technology is boosting economies and changing lives. But there is an untold side to the story as well. Billions across the world still do not have access to the internet. Especially in rural areas. In Kenya, Mawingu is hell-bent on changing this reality faced by the rural population. The company, whose name means “cloud” in Swahili, is bringing connectivity to rural communities in the East African country. Mawingu’s solar-powered WiFi routers connect villages to a readily accessible, yet mostly underutilised, wireless internet signal known as “TV white space”. Schools, libraries, clinics, and young entrepreneurs are all benefiting from Mawingu’s innovative idea.

These startups are amazing examples of how Africa’s economy is growing through young, entrepreneurs who are also providing a social impact and improving the lives of their brothers and sisters. These startups not only support consumers, but also provide employment opportunities to the young, ambitious and growth-seeking population of Africa.

It is the young, ambitious and growth-seeking individual, that we, at Edoofa Scholarship Program, are looking for. With $7 Million worth of Scholarships and 1400 seats across the globe, Edoofa shares a vision with the startups mentioned in this article, to see Africa as a global leader of innovation, culture and growth. With this vision in mind, our global scholarship program has 400 Seats exclusively reserved for meritorious students across Africa. Admissions have started for the 2019 batch. For more information visit

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