Understanding the African context: 7 Reasons why the Silicon Savannah is not Silicon Valley

Recently, GrowthAfrica participated in Asia’s leading technology, innovation, and enterprise festival in Singapore!

Since its inception in 2012, the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH) is the one-stop platform where innovation meets enterprise, with access to global startups, investors, corporates, innovation community, and ecosystem players.



Enterprise Singapore (ESG)  organises SWITCH and Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI), supported by National Research Foundation (NRF), and in partnership with SingEx with prominent speakers such as Bill Gates, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.

GrowthAfrica participated in the parallel Switch Global: Africa Market Access workshop where our CEO, Johnni Kjelsgaard, shared his insights on the evolution of the African tech ecosystem, the challenges and opportunities arising from it with other speakers such as Joshua Romisher, CEO of LaunchLab, Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director of AfriLabs, and Musty Mustapha , Chief Technology Officer, Kuda.



1. The Silicon Savannah is not Silicon Valley

The technology and innovation landscape in Africa is different: consider access to market, data, access to funding, legal frameworks, the growth of financial instruments, and the predictability of the political and economic environment.

There is a need for interested stakeholders coming to Africa to prepare themselves for the continent, understanding what technology is for Africa, its role in development, and what it takes to run a successful business in Africa.


2. Technology in Africa is solution-based

Other tech landscapes may focus more on capitalising on consumerism, but African technology purposes to solve and fix: broken value chains and broken government services.


3.There is a need to access data on the customer mindset

Entrepreneurs and Investors interested in creating impact in Africa need to understand the African context and customer. Such data may not be available at the moment and can be used as an opportunity to create African-centred solutions.

For example, how can a techpreneur understand a farmer’s mindset in North Eastern Kenya or a Cameroonian fisherman?


4.Urban Africa and Rural Africa are 100 years apart.

There is an imbalance between technology in urban areas and rural areas. There is a need to elevate technology and innovation to African rural areas to move African countries from lower-income to middle income.


5.Technological Infrastructure Needs Advancing.

Though there is a high penetration of smartphones in Africa, the pandemic has shown the technological inequalities between Africa’s areas with high-low technology infrastructure.

6.There are still substantial literacy gaps within the continent.

Before getting the laptop, do people understand how to use it?

There is the dichotomy of urban vs. rural, which determines the kind of business a techpreneur can run in Africa.

7.Governments is yet to actively play the role of regulator.

Technology can provide freedom or can be used to exploit others. Governments need to step in and clearly define the laws that protect those who work in these environments?

The continent needs African centred solutions for African success and understanding the context will help you make wise business decisions and smart investments.

What observations have you made about the African technology landscape and how can we create address barriers to technological success in Africa?

Lets continue the conversation on our linkedin page on


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