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Nigeria continues to lead Africa in funding for tech ventures. A new report from Partech Africa says that the country’s digital and tech companies received the biggest amount of total investment on the continent in 2019, with about $747 million channeled into them by various venture capitalists.

The Partech Africa Report covers funding activity involving tech ventures in Africa over the past year. It includes data from 250 deals done by 234 startups during that period. On the whole, the continent attracted a record $2.02 billion in VC support, 74 percent more than it did in 2018.

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Nigeria accounted for more than a third (37 percent) of that number. Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa claimed the second, third and fourth place respectively on the list of top investment destinations. Together, these four countries contributed 85 percent of all investments in the region’s tech.

Fintech Gives Nigeria a Boost

Nigeria’s fintech sector accounted for an impressive 62 percent of investments poured into the country’s booming tech industry in 2019. The highlights here were the headline-grabbing equity funding secured by Interswitch and Opay.

Interswitch soared to unicorn status when a 20% stake in it was purchased by Visa for $200 million. Opay raised $170 million from Chinese VC firms via two funding rounds. A third company, Palmplay, got $40 million from its Asian backers to launch in Nigeria’s increasingly competitive payments space.

Much of the backing for fintechs was motivated by the potential for growth in electronic financial transactions. Large segments of Nigeria’s adult population remains underserved by traditional financial institutions. Local startups and payment companies are attempting to meet the needs of these people; investors see that there’s a lot of value waiting to be unlocked here, and they are positioning to reap the fruits as they come.

A number of startups in other sectors also featured on the top performers’ list. Andela pulled in $100 million from various VCs;  Jumia got equity funding worth $56 million from Mastercard Europe; Jiji raised $21 million from Knuru Capital; Boomplay lapped up $20 million in Series A funding from Maison Capital and Seas Capital.   

More Early-Stage Startups are Getting Noticed

A clear trend captured in the report is an increase in the number of deals involving early-stage startups. About 206 of these younger African ventures benefitted from the windfall of investments in 2019, up 57 percent from the previous year.

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There was also an increase in the total value of investments for early-stage startups, with $620 million going to them in 2019, a 116 percent increase year on year.

The Partech report says this is evidence of rising confidence in Africa’s tech industry. As startup success stories continue to emerge from the continent, global venture capital firms are now less wary of staking their funds on its tech companies.

The positive trend of investments in Nigeria’s startup space will very likely continue in 2020, maintaining the upward trajectory of the past decade.

Featured image source: Africa Capital Digest

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This article was first published on 3rd February 2020


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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