Innovation in Africa has grown tremendously over the last decade, with Africans consistently proffering solutions to the challenges facing the continent. This growth has been supported by the proliferation of tech and innovation hubs across the continent. Investors have thronged Africa in search of startups that will own the future, investing close to $600 million in 2017. A report also states that African startups raised $169 million in the first half of 2018 over 120 deals.
Investors’ interest and confidence in startups in Africa has not waned, with Nigerian startup Paystack raising $8 million series A round just days ago. Most of the funding for startups have come from Europe and North America, with their leaders wondering what mineral reserves have been uncovered on the continent. It is, therefore, not surprising that almost every world leader that makes it to Africa finds time to meet with the continent’s young innovators and tech communities, showing solidarity with promise of funds and open doors to their countries, should they plan to leave Africa.
Before German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived Africa, she made it clear that she was visiting the continent to discuss security, trade and immigration. Security, because a secure Africa can live up to its potential and become economically viable. Trade, because an economically viable Africa with a huge population can consume more German goods. Immigration, because it’s one of her government’s biggest challenges, and can be easily addressed if African countries cooperate; Germany’s relationship with Niger has proven this. However, there is more to Africa than insecurity, consumption and illegal immigration, which Merkel saw; it’s the continent’s smart youth, who are breaking glass ceilings and living their dreams.
Good thing Merkel was visiting three of the top 10 destinations for startup funding in Africa. She did not pass off the opportunity to meet with the young founders in West Africa.
In Ghana, the German Chancellor visited Impact Hub.
Chancellor Angela Merkel came to visit 🙂 The dream team @ImpactHubAccra worked with some bold young entrepreneurs, @giz_gmbh, @AHKGhana & the German Embassy to highlight Ghana’s growing innovation ecosystem. There’s something in the water out here in Osu Ako Adjei 😎 pic.twitter.com/k9bWBqky1q
— Will Senyo (@WillSenyo) August 31, 2018
Can I just take a moment to point out that THAT’S ANGELA MERKEL TALKING TO THE SCIENCE SET TEAM?!? I’m so proud of you guys, @Dext_Tech. Look at you! 🇬🇭 🇬🇭 🇬🇭
And look at the #africaprize alumni go! pic.twitter.com/Gxlvza9zHI
— Anzet du Plessis (@Zetsaid) August 31, 2018
British Prime Minster Theresa May’s visit to Africa had also included spotlight on the continent’s entrepreneurs and innovators. Ahead of her trip to Nigeria, a delegation led by UK’s Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin visited Ventures Park, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and professionals located in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Africa’s entrepreneurship growth shows the depth of the continent’s potential and what its youth can achieve locally if they put their mind to it. The quest for a better life abroad has derailed many young Africans, with many drowning or dying of thirst on illegal migration routes. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 1,000 illegal migrants have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2018.
Before Merkel left Africa, she urged leaders of the three countries she visited to fight illegal migration. The Associated Press reported Merkel to have said after a meeting with Senegal’s President Macky Sall: “We must not be accomplices of the people smugglers. We must fight illegality but also create legality and conditions for work here on the ground”.
The German chancellor was in Africa with nearly a dozen German CEOs and held talks with leaders of Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria on economic cooperation. She urged Ghana to do more in fighting corruption and promised to support Nigeria to fight insecurity.
The growing school of thought in Europe is that if the region can help Africa to be more secure and invest in the region for economic development and job creation, more people are likely to remain.