AfriLabs and Mozilla Roundtables Report



African Innovation Ecosystem Roundtables

successful involvement of academic institutions with many starting their own hubs over the last couple of years. The ecosystem has generally also been successful in collaborating well and coming up with new innovations as well as the formation of strategic partnerships. There are also a number of events and marketplaces running. Some of the challenges in Tanzania would be the limited access to seed financing and the raising of funding as there is no real investment landscape. Further to this, there is a lack of understanding of start-ups amongst the government and hence there is no clear exit path for investors, resulting in uncertainty and thus less interested investors. There is also a need for better data on start-ups.

Despite these challenges, Tanzania has seenmore start-ups being sold successfully with a recent example of a business sold for around USD 25million.

In Kenya there has been similar growth with a lot of stakeholders now coming together to contribute to the ecosystem. Since the formalisation of Hubs in 2009, more than 70 hubs have been added to the ecosystem together with more than 100 other enablers all assisting with entrepreneur development and support. There are also a number of associations in place, all contributing to the success of the ecosystem. Kenya is unique in that it is a regional hub for business with many people from different nations travelling through Nairobi daily and a lot of multinational businesses running their headquarters in Kenya. This has contributed to globalisation and a strong innovation presence as the multi- nationals act as a catalyst for new ideas. The environment also allows for excellent exploration and collaboration. Considering the legislative environment, Kenya is at the forefront with a start-up bill recently being read in the Senate (on 29 September 2020), as well as the provision of a de-risking fund for start-ups. There is however a lot of room for further improvement in policies and greater levels of engagement with government. One challenge that does however still remain is the lack of investment instruments to enable local funding. Yet, in the absence of this, the Kenyan government took out a loan from the World Bank to invest into the local ecosystem showing its deliberate intent to grow the landscape. They have also been setting up a national innovation agency whilst the ecosystem has also seen similar investments from international incubators and accelerators who are also setting up operations in Kenya. Rwanda has a far younger ecosystem, which was only established in 2012. It has however seen some growth in maturity as it has evolved from mainly duplicating other examples towards now starting to really innovate. They have also established a couple of hubs with a number of academic institutions also considering opening their own hubs. There is also a current drive to train hub managers as the need for such skills is growing. The Rwanda government has also renamed a ministry to the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, which is a strong indication of their intent to drive innovation in the country. They are also currently working on a start-up act to further support the ecosystem. To date, the main support

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