A startup’s success is certainly linked to the context in which it is born. Countries like the US, Hong Kong, Japan or Singapore can count on human resources, efficient infrastructure, solid financing and policies that create favourable conditions for companies. For many reasons, such conditions are often missing in African countries. Yet in recent years – and this is also down to excellent international collaborative projects – Africa has seen various startups rise to success and the possibility of their one day arriving in Europe should not be overlooked. Let us take a look at some examples.
Gic Space. One of the biggest problems facing Africa’s poorest countries is the provision of medical assistance to those living in remote urban centres where there are few doctors. Gic Space was created in response to this need. It is a remote medicine app, set up by a doctor from Cameroon, that enables diagnoses by using a phone as a scanner. The app is even able to reveal tumours and transmit the data to doctors, who, where necessary, can then travel to the patient in the knowledge that they definitely need help, or pass instructions onto someone else on site, so that they might take the best course of action. This project, alongside some others, has received support from the Bocconi University in Milan.
Ared. Ared’s founders are from Nigeria and Rwanda. It is a simple but brilliant idea and it would easily be a success in the West, too. Ared is a little, solar-powered trailer that can be positioned in a square, in the street or anywhere, so that people can move alongside it or set up in front of it. Why? Ared is mobile station for charging telephones (as well as computers, tablets and so on) with a wifi connection.
Conditions in Africa are rarely ideal for setting up a business, but various successful projects have emerged in recent years.
Clean Coal Power. Set up in Ghana, this startup’s role is to produce biomass bricks (a carbon alternative) made from agricultural or green waste. This is useful for anyone who needs to source clean energy for affordable prices, for cooking and heating. Reducing carbon consumption in favour of this type of material allows a family to save and also reduces CO2 emissions (to benefit everyone’s health), while promoting the reuse of waste, which then does not need to be dumped.
Clad Light. This interesting idea to make the streets safer came out of Kenya. This startup has used technology to create a jacket that can be worn by those riding motorbikes or scooters. It has a light on the back which signals which way the driver intends to turn in sync with their indicators. It is very useful at night and it is possible to imagine developing a system like this to also provide information regarding breaking or road positioning.
GoMyWay. This is a sort of Blablacar for cities. It was set up in Nigeria and reduces traffic and pollution by putting car owners with free spaces in touch with passengers who need to head down the same stretch of road. In this way it reduces queues of half-empty cars as well as the load on public transport.