Further accelerated by the pandemic, the technological revolution underway on the continent brings together an increasingly rich ecosystem. For the first time, JA, who has followed her since her beginnings, offers a list of the 50 personalities who best embody this effervescence.
If there is one industry that has always exceeded expectations in Africa, it is undoubtedly the telecoms industry. Today the continent has more than 500 million mobile phone users. Almost one in two Africans.
Far beyond what could have been imagined in 1987 the Rwandan-Congolese Miko Rwayitare, creator in the DRC of the first mobile network on the continent. At the time, the entrepreneur was targeting only a few thousand “happy few”, and his phones, which could not even send an SMS, were still the size of a brick.
In three decades, operators have weathered all the crises without trembling. Their services were too basic to be hit by the bursting of the 2001 dot-com bubble, then they became too essential to endure the 2008 financial crisis or shudder at the time of the 2014 oil price collapse. Covid will not have shaken them any more, on the contrary.
But unlike previous upheavals, the telecoms industry is no longer the only one to drive the African digital revolution. After the development of 2G, then 3 and 4G networks, submarine cables, mobile payment, the continent has embarked on a new technological leap, that of the platform economy.
In the fields of e-commerce first, for a few years, but also financial services, access to energy, agriculture, health and education. Even states have set about it with the hope of reconciling administered and administration, while improving their governance.
Around MTN, Vodacom, Orange and others, there are therefore thousands of startupers, investors, incubators, operators of fiber optic networks or data centers and influencers, who have enriched the ecosystem. This profusion of actors pushed us to establish, for the first time, the ranking of the 50 personalities who make up digital Africa, with the desire to reproduce it every year.
Start-ups turned unicorns
An ambitious company, which combines in the same list of leaders of telecom operators with hundreds of millions of subscribers, owners of specialized investment funds, the largest of which approach 100 million euros, entrepreneurs looking for financing , founders of start-ups who have become unicorns, but also representatives of Gafam, these sprawling companies with almost unlimited means, and finally some public decision-makers.
CANDIDATES CHOSEN FROM A LIST OF OVER 300 NAMES
With great humility, we report through this selection of the place that each one occupies in our eyes in an effervescence, which has been further accentuated in favor of the health crisis, under the pressure of confined populations eager for its new digital services.
To calibrate our candidates, chosen from a list of more than 300 names, we have retained a series of criteria, which range from capacity for innovation, through financial strength, the amount of fundraising carried out, leadership and notoriety, primarily by highlighting the events that occurred during the 2020/2021 period. Of course, this list cannot claim to be absolute truth, but it presents JA’s vision of a revolution that we have been following since its inception.
We could have immediately placed the top ten telecom operators there without which nothing would be possible, but we also wanted to highlight the adoption of e-commerce, the explosion of fintechs, especially in Nigeria, more than ever in the sight of global groups such as Visa or Mastercard, the growing interest in energy access services, the development of datacenters and the first really significant projects of Gafam, particularly in the field of infrastructure. READ [Ranking] When telecom giants eclipse the rest of tech (2/3)
Absence of actors from Maghreb countries
Reducing the list to 50 names has also led us to exclude for this edition the large financial institutions like IFC or CDC, which nevertheless play an important role, and to note the absence of actors from the Maghreb countries among the most ambitious projects.
Finally, it should be noted that women are still few in this ecosystem to occupy the leading roles. They are, however, far from being absent.
We can cite, in addition to the personalities appearing in our selection, Odunayo Eweniyi, co – founder of the start-up Piggyvest , Coura Carine Sene, who heads Wave Senegal, Fatoumata Ba , whose fund is not yet fully operational or Andreatta Muforo, partner of the investment company TLCom, represented in the ranking by its founder. Female figures who, we hope, will manage to find a more important place in the next editions of our top 50.
|Rank||First name||Last name||Nationality||Function||Company or organization|
|2||Jeremy / Sacha||Hodara / Poigonnec||French||Founders and CEO||Jumia|
|3||Shola / Ezra||Akinlade / Olubi||Nigerian||Founders and CEO||Paystack|
|4||Olugbenga||Agboola||Nigerian||Founder and CEO||Flutterwave|
|5||Ashraf||Sabry||Egyptian||Founder and CEO||Fawry|
|6||Mitchell||Elegbe||Nigerian||Founder and Managing Director||Interswitch|
|7||Arif||Chowdhury||Bengali||Director and member of the board of directors||Transsion Holdings|
|9||Kim||Reid||South African||Founder and CEO||Takealot|
|11||Paul||Kagame||Rwandan||President||Republic of Rwanda|
|12||Lacina||Koné||Ivorian||General manager||Smart Africa|
|14||Alioune||Ndiaye||Senegalese||CEO||Orange Middle East and Africa|
|17||Jon||Stever||American||Co-founder and Managing Director||i4policy|
|18||Mostafa||Kandil||Egyptian||Founder and CEO||Swvl|
|19||Mansoor||Hamayum||Pakistano-Swedish||Founder and CEO||BBOX|
|21||Michael D.||Francois||American||EMEA infrastructure manager|
|22||Ibrahima||Ba||Mauritanian||Director of Emerging Countries Infrastructures|
|23||Tidjane / Cyril||Deme / Collon||Senegalese / French||General Partners||Partech Africa|
|24||Bosun||Tijani||Nigerian||CEO||Co-Creation Hub / iHub|
|25||Maurizio||Caio||Italian||Founder and Managing Director||TLcom Capital|
|26||Hany||Al-Sonbaty||Egyptian||Co-founder and Managing Director||Sawari Ventures|
|27||Ham / Maijid||Serunjogi / Moujaled||Ugandan / Ghanaian||Co-founder and CEO / Co-founder and president||Chipper Cash|
|28||Jan||Hnizdo||South African||CEO||Teraco Data Environments|
|29||Mustapha||Cisse||Senegalese||Director of the Center on Artificial Intelligence at Accra Director of the Center on Artificial Intelligence at Accra Director of the Center on Artificial Intelligence at Accra|
|30||Erik||Hersman||American||Founder and CEO||BRCK|
|32||Ryosuke||Yamawaki||Japanese||General Partner||Kepple Africa Ventures|
|33||Abasi||Ene-Obong||Nigerian||Founder and CEO||54gene|
|34||Grant / Kikande||Brooke / Mwatela||British / Kenyan||Co-founder and CEO / Co-founder and CEO||Twiga Foods|
|35||Phuthi||Mahanyele-Dabengwa||South African||CEO||Naspers SA|
|37||Mesh / Malaika||Alloys / Judd||Kenyan / American||Cofounder and CEO / Cofounder and CFO Founder and CEO / Cofounder and CFO||Sendy|
|38||Sim||Shagaya||Nigerian||Founder and CEO||uLesson Education|
|39||Jason||Njoku||Nigerian||Founder and CEO||iROKOtv|
|41||Cina||Lawson||Togolese||Minister||Ministry of Digital Economy|
|42||Ndèye Ticked||Ndiaye Diop||Senegalese||Ex-Minister||Ministry of Digital Economy|
|43||Nnenna||Nwakanma||Nigerian||Chief Web Advocate||World Wide Web Foundation|
|44||Iyinoluwa||Aboyeji||Nigerian||Founder & General PartnerFounder & General Partner||Future Africa|
|46||Michael||Seibel||American||General manager||Y combinator|
|47||Kizito||Okechukwu||South African||Director||22 on Sloane|
|48||Marième||Jamme||Senegal||Founder and President||iamtheCODE|
|49||Wim||van der Beek||Dutch||Founder and Managing Director||Goodwell investment|