The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022

Africa Insights, Rankings & Ecosystem Pages

Investment in African tech startups in 2021 was unprecedented, at $1.6 billion total (excluding MENA countries) — a 113% increase from 2020. It’s looking like 2022 will be an even bigger record-breaker, with total VC investment in Q1 at $1.1 billion.

Fintech is the continent’s most successful sub-sector, accounting for $571 million in funding and producing all three of the region’s unicorns. In March 2021, Lagos-based Fintech Flutterwave raised $170 million in a Series C round at a valuation of $1 billion. In spring 2022, it became the highest valued African startup to date at $3 billion. Lagos mobile payment platform OPay secured a $400 million Series C round in August 2021, taking its valuation to $2 billion. Dakar-based Wave Mobile Money is the region’s third unicorn. Nairobi online-processing company DPO Group also made headlines when it exited at $288 million in July 2020.

Lagos is the region’s leading ecosystem and has a strong Fintech industry, but mobile payment usage is high across much of Africa. Kenyans have made mobile wallet and phone payments a critical part of their everyday lives to the degree that transactions account for 87% of the nation’s GDP. In Ghana, such transactions make up 82% of GDP. Kenya is easily the larger market, but Ghana has become the fastest-growing mobile money market on the continent in recent years.

Successful local founders — including Olugbenga Agboola (Flutterwave), Gregory Rockson (mPharma), and Shola Akinlade (Paystack) — are putting their support behind startups, further accelerating the rapidly growing African startup ecosystem. Governments throughout Africa are also recognizing the potential for the tech industry and have begun taking concrete steps to show support. The Nigeria Startup Bill aims to create clear and thoughtful regulations that will help boost the tech ecosystem and solidify the potential of the digital economy.

Key Findings

  • Africa produced three unicorns in the GSER 2022 time period, all Fintechs.

  • Lagos is the most successful startup ecosystem in the region, producing two unicorns — Flutterwave and OPay.

  • Investment in African tech startups increased 113% from 2020 to 2021, at $1.6 billion total.

  • Africa has seen 110% growth in Series B+ rounds from 2020 to 2021.