1. African artists have made thousands of dollars selling NFTs
The growing popularity of NFTs has intrigued many, but it has opened the door for African artists and creators to sell their content to a global audience. With global sales of NFT exceeding $ 2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, we’ve seen African artists like Niyi Okeowo and Nyahan Tachie-Menson sell thousands of dollars of NFT; Osinachi sells $ 75,000 in crypto art in 10 days; and Nyasha Warambwa’s work was featured on a billboard in Times Square, New York.
2. The world’s first 3D printed school opened in Malawi
The world’s first 3D printed school opened in July in Malawi. The school was built by 14Trees, a joint venture between a UK development company and a Swiss company specializing in building materials. The school walls were printed in just 18 hours, compared to several days of building with conventional building materials. The process, in general, greatly minimizes the time, cost, and materials used in the construction of homes and schools. Hopefully this technology can help alleviate the severe shortage of schools in the country.
3. The African startup ecosystem has raised a record amount of over $ 4 billion in venture capital funding
2021 was a pivotal year for the African tech ecosystem, raising more than $ 4 billion through 754 venture capital funding agreements. The Big Four (Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt) represented 80% of the total amount raised and 76% of transactions.
4. Autonomous drone deployed to attack humans in Libya, UN says
A report released in March 2021 by the United Nations (UN) Panel of Experts on Libya said a drone had been used to “track down and engage remotely” soldiers believed to have been loyal to Libyan General Khalifa Haftar. This case revisits the conversation about the ethics of the use of drones in military attacks. How reliable is the technology behind drones and what could be the implication of a malfunction or error?
5. Apple named its very first country leader for Nigeria
Apple has sold over a billion smartphones (iPhones), but they represent less than 10% of the smartphone market in Nigeria. In March, the announcement of the appointment of Teju Ajani as Apple’s first-ever managing director for Nigeria is a testament to the tech giant’s interest in Nigeria.
6. African regulators have started to respond to the unethical practices of digital lenders
After many years of complaints about the predatory tactics of digital lenders, regulators in Nigeria and Kenya have started to take action to stop them. A Nigerian regulator fined Soko Lending company 10 million naira ($ 18,000), and the Kenyan government recently put in place a law to curb the excesses of digital lenders.
7. Apple Pay launched in Africa
Eight years after Apple launched Apple Pay, its digital payment and wallet system, the tech giant finally brought it to Africa, with its launch in South Africa this year. This launch came three years after Samsung launched its Samsung Pay in South Africa. The move is a testament to Apple’s intention to increase its penetration in sub-Saharan Africa where the adoption of digital payments has increased since the start of the pandemic.
8. Ghana launched its first fully digital census in West Africa
In June, Ghana launched its first fully digital national census, the first ever to be conducted in West Africa. The last census of the country took place in 2010, and it estimated the population at 24.6 million. The country has, every 10 years since 1981, carried out the Population and Housing Census (PHC) but was forced to postpone the 2020 census due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. Nigeria became the first African country to deploy a digital currency
On October 25, Nigeria became the first country in Africa, and one of the first in the world, to introduce a digital currency. Developed by Barbados-based fintech company Bitt Inc., eNaira is legal tender just like naira. According to the country’s central bank, it must be accepted by all merchants and outlets as a means of payment in Nigeria. Digital currency is expected to boost cross-border trade and financial inclusion, make transactions more efficient, and improve monetary policy.
10. The Senegalese megastar of TikTok Khaby Lame has passed the milestone of 100 million followers without saying a word
In August, Senegalese-born Khaby Lame became the second person to reach and cross the 100 million follower mark on TikTok. Lame, a 21-year-old former factory worker living in Italy with a Senegalese passport, created a comedic brand that resonated around the world by putting so-called life hacks or complicated maneuvers through the prism of intuitive daily options.
11. Google has announced its intention to invest $ 1 billion in Africa
At the first Google for Africa virtual event, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the company’s plan to invest $ 1 billion over five years to support digital transformation in Africa.
The investment aims to provide fast and affordable Internet access to more Africans; create useful products; support entrepreneurship and small businesses; and helping non-profit organizations improve lives across Africa.
12. E-commerce giant Amazon has strengthened its presence in Africa
For a long time, questions have arisen about when Amazon will launch operations in Africa. Well, Amazon answered that question this year. First, it affirmed its commitment to Egypt by replacing Souq.com as Amazon’s sales platform in the country with Amazon.eg. This announcement also came with the inauguration of an Amazon distribution center in Egypt. There was also the announcement of Amazon’s controversial headquarters in South Africa.
13. There has been a wave of acquisitions across Africa
This year, several companies were acquired, most of them for undisclosed amounts. MainOne, a data center and connectivity solutions provider in West Africa, has been acquired by Equinix for $ 320 million.
MFS Africa has acquired Baxi. MaxAB, an Egyptian B2B marketplace, has acquired WaystoCap. Ghanaian fintech start-up Zeepay has acquired 51% of its Zambian counterpart Mangwee. Plentywaka acquired Stabus Ghana after initial funding of $ 1.2 million. Other notable acquisitions include the acquisition of Autochek by JIji and the acquisition of Storemia by Ourpass.
14. The Ethiopian government has launched its own mobile money service
In May 2021, Ethio telecom launched its own mobile money service, TeleBirr, to meet the needs of 115 million people in Africa’s third most populous country. Two months after its launch, TeleBirr announced that it had gained six million users. The new service is expected to make a difference in Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient, with just 19 commercial banks serving the entire population.
15. Francophone Africa got its first unicorn in Wave
Wave, a spin-off of Sendwave, an Asia and Africa-focused remittance company, raised $ 200 million in a Series A round to become the Francophone region’s first unicorn of Africa. Why vague? The startup’s low-cost transaction service has helped it hire incumbents, nibble their market share, and shake up the entire mobile money industry.
16. Six months and more: ban on Twitter in Nigeria
The Nigerian government suspended Twitter operations in June 2021, following the social media platform’s decision to delete a tweet from Buhari, which it said violated site rules. The state’s decision to ban Twitter has since sparked widespread criticism as online businesses have suffered huge losses; legal proceedings; and National Assembly hearings to investigate the circumstances leading to the ban.
17. Sudanese technology obtained its first foreign funding in 30 years
alsoug, Sudan’s largest digital marketplace, has raised a $ 5 million investment round co-led by Egyptian fintech unicorn Fawry and a “larger consortium of western venture capital firms”. This investment marked the first foreign venture capital investment in the Sudanese tech ecosystem since the lifting of international sanctions against the country in 2020, after a period of 30 years of isolation.
18. Somalia has obtained its first Visa card payment service
Visa has partnered with the International Bank of Somalia (IBS Bank) to launch the first Visa card payment service in Somalia. This came six years after Mastercard became the first international payment network to enter the Somali market. This partnership is an important indicator that Somalia, a country that had no formal banking or financial system since its government collapsed in 1991, has made serious progress in rekindling the pulse of its financial entities.
19. Ethiopia obtains its first telecommunications license
In May, Ethiopia awarded its first telecommunications license to a consortium made up of Vodafone, Nairobi-based Safaricom Ltd, CDC Group Plc and Sumitomo Corp. The following month, Ethiopia launched a competitive bidding process for the proposed sale of a stake in state-owned Ethio Telecom to private investors. These actions are all part of the government’s larger plan to open up the economy.
20. Twitter has opened its first African office in Ghana
In April 2021, social media giant Twitter announced that Ghana was its choice for an African headquarters. The move surprised some who expected it to be Nigeria, a country with more Twitter users and a larger overall population. Twitter cleared the air by stating that the reasons he chose Ghana was because the country was a “supporter of free speech, online freedom and the open Internet.”
21. The continent produced a record number of new unicorns in one year
There are a total of eight tech unicorns in Africa right now, with five of them – Flutterwave, Andela, Chipper Cash, Wave and Opay – reaching this status in 2021. Notably, fintech has its time as the majority of unicorns are fintech. Other companies that have achieved unicorn status before this year are Interswitch, Jumia, and Fawry.
That’s all for 2021! We look forward to all the first surprises that await the African tech world in 2022.
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