innovation Startups Why African Innovation and ideology only revolves around Africa and not a world solution By Incubate Africa Posted on January 30, 201710 min read0 0 The world is moving at a faster pace and technology is pushing it even faster. Economies are rising and some faltering but everyone is trying to stay ahead of the game, not losing sight of the bigger picture. Everyone wants a piece of the world’s pie and wants to get noticed by the world’s bigwigs. There are innovations coming up that cut across different sectors all over the world and impacting the various localities in big ways. The latest craze is apps that can make a task much easier to execute and some even add to efficiency. It can be any task ranging from booking a flight, buying goods online, getting a taxi to something as complex and unpredictable as running farm activities. The African scene is no less different, with innovative ideas sprouting from virtually every corner of Africa. They are mostly very useful and have great potential for scalability. Countries like Nigeria and Kenya have experienced an increased number of tech startups which prompted the need for incubation centers to give these a home and tech expertise until they can stand on their own and break even. Even as these startups come up you will notice some common ground among most of them. They focus on solving local African problems. Take for example a platform created to give traffic and accident alerts and another that allows clients to convert phone airtime into usable cash. These startups seem to be doing well and growing gradually but these solutions can only be implemented in similar economies and situations which means they can’t quite be globalized. From a business standpoint this automatically shuts them out from the global market and limits their growth before it even begins. You would think that the best way to go about it would be to create solutions that go beyond their borders so as to increase their reach. Why then, isn’t this the case? 1. Nobody understands their problems like they do Africans have watched as the world continues to grow and thrive and have sat back to learn. The international community may indeed have the technological advantage and possibly the resources and infrastructure African startups need but they don’t experience the same challenges that Africans do. Different communities and countries on the African continent face problems that remain unique to them. Nobody else understands these problems like they do and so nobody else can provide a long-lasting solution to these problems but them. Ignoring these problems because scaling up would not get them into the international market would be counterproductive and downright irresponsible. 2. Lack of exposure and working in isolation Most of these startups are started by individuals who have minimal exposure to the international world but have immense confidence in themselves as individuals. They may therefore not know how to adapt the innovations to the Western world and may not quite walk with individuals conversant with these markets. They will usually ride it out alone to avoid losing their idea to someone else or maybe because they have immense confidence that their tech will work well no matter what. 3. Keeping up with the tech Keeping up with technology is also a bit of a struggle because it is moving very fast. New additions come up within days or even hours of each other and updates follow soon after. Since many leverage on technology to bring their ideas to life, technology is required to sustain these innovations and keep them up to date. 4. Lack of business acumen Innovations may start out as passion projects or with the aim of turning them into viable businesses. The problem comes in when the innovator has minimal business management skills. This easily curtails any growth because coming up with a new project is not equivalent to running the project into profitability. It goes to show that while many African startups are focused on alleviating the issues affecting their communities, reaching the global market may take a while. These same reasons point squarely to the failure of many African startups in general among others like lack of seed capital and choosing sectors that are already crowded by platforms offering similar services. African innovation has indeed started well but those involved need to look further and deeper as well. Collaborations with individuals from outside will give a global insight to app development and innovation thus opening up these startups to the world.