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Listing the African Tech Hubs

April 27, 2011  »  Business14 Comments

August 2012 update: Find a constantly-updated crowdmap of all African tech hubs at Hubs in Africa.

No matter what you call them – tech hub, innovation hub, business incubator – technology centers are connecting young entrepreneurs, programmers, designers, and investors. Few concepts in Africa drives more excitement, collaboration, and promise than the tech hub.

african tech hubs

Mosaic of African tech hub logos

For years, tech experimentation was limited to universities and a select few ambitious souls. In a matter of 2-3 years, however, the innovation scene has greatly expanded thanks to careful planning (plus, an influx of broadband connections doesn’t hurt). Official labs not only encourage the dispersion of local content, but also attract business investment and. Plus, lab members can spread their knowledge to the rest of society once they become local e-skills or programming experts.

The main draw of the labs is their offer of working spaces: broadband-equipped facilities that allow techies to conduct their business as if they were in an office setting. A benefit of the hub is that members do not need a university degree; passion, ideas, and some skill are all that is required in terms of human capital.

Membership terms are along the lines of a typical office lease. Financing for the labs is generally a combination of membership dues, donations, and revenue from commercial projects that have been contracted out. In many cases, tax breaks on imports and operating costs help attract hubs to less-developed areas.

Although AfriLabs naturally maintains a useful list of African tech hubs, there exist a handful of innovation centers/platforms/incubators that are not part of the consortium. Kenya may currently boast the most tech hubs, but other areas are quickly following suit as benefits become clearer. Please support these endeavors as they work to improve the quality of African life.

(The list is loosely mirrored on Twitter at @oafrica/african-tech-hubs. Also, please add any hubs in the comments or via Twitter – they will be mentioned ASAP. BongoHive has created an excellent CrowdMap of Hubs in Africa as of 2012)

AfriLabs Members:

afrilabsAfriLabs

  • Founded: March 2010
  • networking organization
  • seeks to share best practices among labs, increase visibility, organize events, promote developments
  • implemented Apps4Africa contest, helped establish Hive Colab in Uganda
  • Last site post: February 2011
  • Facebook: 99 / Twitter: 251
  • http://afrilabs.com/

activspacesActivSpaces (Buea, Cameroon)

  • Founded: February 2010
  • formerly Limbe Labs Ventures
  • open collaboration space, innovation hub, and start-up incubator for African techies
  • Coworking program allows members to bring a computer and work
  • Fellowship program attracts mentors and business coaches
  • Last site post: April 2011
  • Facebook: 74 / Twitter: 426
  • http://activspaces.com/

bantalabsbantalabs (Saint Louis, Senegal)

  • Founded: February 2010
  • based in France and Senegal
  • open source web development, consulting and training firm
  • build websites and tools based on Drupal
  • organize workshops and community events in Europe and West Africa
  • Last post: April 2011
  • Twitter: 350
  • http://bantalabs.com/

hivecolabHive Colab (Kampala, Uganda)

  • Founded: June 2010
  • open, collaborative, community owned work environment for young tech entrepreneurs to focus on projects, access the internet, hold events and generally collaborate
  • Last post: March 2011
  • Facebook: 38 / Twitter: 206
  • http://hivecolab.com/

ihubiHub (Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Founded: March 2010
  • open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area
  • tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers
  • part open community workspace, part vector for investors and VCs, and part incubator
  • very active space – check the site for details
  • Last post: April 2011
  • Facebook: 787 / Twitter: 5347
  • http://www.ihub.co.ke/

nailabNaiLab (Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Founded: February 2010
  • ICT Business Incubation Laboratory
  • makes it easier for financiers such as venture capitalists, angel investors or profit / non-profit driven corporations to find innovators
  • incubation service, co-working service, outreach service
  • Video
  • Last post: January 2011
  • Facebook:  622 / Twitter 187
  • http://www.ilab.co.ke/

Other Tech Hubs:

bihBotswana Innovation Hub (Gaborone, Botswana)

  • Founded: 2006
  • mission is to provide an attractive location for technology-driven and knowledge-intensive businesses to develop, and to compete in the global market
  • development programs, together with the support for R&D and the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, will make for an ideal place for business development
  • Last post: April 2011
  • http://www.bih.co.bw/

iceethiopiaice ethiopia (iceaddis) (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

  • Founded: January 2011
  • aim is to establish a national network of collaboration and a home of Ethiopian made  innovations
  • cross-linking ICT innovation with entrepreneurial knowledge and skills development as well as with incubator facilities (collaborative workspace) for start-up companies
  • Twitter: 42
  • http://ice-ethiopia.org/

icecairo (Cairo, Egypt)

  • Founded: late 2011
  • aims at accelerating Egypt’s economic growth by promoting market-driven and environmentally viable innovations
  • expansion of iceaddis in Ethiopia
  • Twitter: 6 followers

wennovationWennovation Hub (Ikeja, Nigeria)

  • Founded: November 2010
  • provides pre-business formation training, a facility to encourage collaborative business idea formation, seed capital
  • Last post: April 2011
  • Facebook: 27 / Twitter: 34
  • http://www.wennovationhub.com/

techhubngTech Hub Nigeria (Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Founded: May 2010 (no longer active as of 2012?)
  • started online, then added offline facility
  • youth-led Non-governmental intervention to grow the industry by harnessing common resources to create platform for untapped potentials in Nigerian youths to flourish
  • a location for technologists, programmers (Mobile, Web, PC, Linux, etc.), technopreneurs, investors, and anyone interested in technology
  • modeled after Tech Hub Europe, iHub Kenya, and Silicon Cape

akendewaAkendewa (Abidjan, Ivory Coast)

  • Founded: 2009
  • emulates the industry of Internet and mobile players departing the bottom of the pyramid (startup, lovers and enthusiasts, independent contractors)
  • promote ICT, especially in Francophone Africa
  • Last post: April 2011
  • Facebook: 2686 / Twitter: 312
  • http://www.akendewa.org/

bongohiveBongoHive (Lusaka, Zambia)

  • Founded: 2011
  • can build anything on demand, from websites, databases, SMS services to apps
  • Facebook: 4 / Twitter (@BongoHive): 255

EtriLabs (Cotonou, Benin)

  • Founded: mid-2011
  • Provides the environment and infrastructure necessary for the emergence of disruptive technology in Africa
  • Twitter (@EtriLabs): 56
  • Website

jokkolabsJokkoLabs (Dakar, Senegal)

  • Founded: October 2010
  • identifies and supports innovative ideas and communities of the creative economy
  • Twitter (@jokkolabs): 287
  • Website

Tech Incubators:

innovationhubThe Innovation Hub (Pretoria, South Africa)

  • Founded: 2002
  • Africa’s first internationally accredited Science Park
  • unique space for high-tech entrepreneurs, world-class businesses, academics, researchers and venture capitalists to meet, network and prosper
  • http://www.theinnovationhub.com/

siliconcapeThe Silicon Cape (Cape Town, South Africa)

  • Founded: October 2009
  • private sector community movement originally founded by two South African high-tech entrepreneurs
  • opportunity in South Africa to create a “Silicon Valley of Africa”, and attract the brightest minds, best technical talent, and local and foreign investors
  • Facebook: 541 / Twitter: 2095
  • http://www.siliconcape.com/

mlabm:lab east africa (Kenya)

  • Founded: September 2010
  • aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship within the Kenyan community, with a focus on Web and mobile services
  • provides a full range of resources and initiatives to infuse innovators and researchers with the support they need to introduce innovative products and services that have an impact on the Kenyan context and abroad
  • partnered with iHub, eMobilis, and University of Kenya with infoDev & World Bank funding
  • Twitter: 258
  • http://mlab.co.ke/

umbonoUmbono (Cape Town, South Africa)

  • Founded: March 2011
  • operated by Google, the team-based program lasts for 6 months
  • transforms vision into a business by securing funding, free collaborative work space in Cape Town, business strategy, mentors, and visibility
  • http://www.google.co.za/intl/en/umbono/

Tech Communities:

emobiliseMobilis (Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Founded: 2008
  • focuses on training individuals on mobile software development, as well as network infrastructure management
  • Last post: February 2011
  • Facebook: 395 / Twitter: 20
  • http://www.emobilis.org/

afrinnovatorAfrinnovator (Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Founded: 2008
  • telling the stories of African startups, African innovation, African made technology, African tech entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs
  • active online resource
  • Facebook: 467 / Twitter: 2200
  • http://afrinnovator.com/

appfricaAppfrica Labs (Kampala, Uganda)

  • Founded: 2008
  • founded as a technology incubator for youth in East Africa
  • operates as both an innovation incubator and as a boutique software company
  • works with a surprising range of clients on diverse projects: translation, mobile apps, Facebook apps, software development, market research and reports, data analysis and visualization, infographics, graphic design
  • Twitter: 4016
  • http://appfricalabs.com/

mlabsamLab Southern Africa (South Africa)

  • Founded: 2011
  • an incubator for mobile apps and content services in southern Africa
  • hosted by a consortium of incubators (including The Innovation Hub)
  • Twitter: 321
  • http://www.mlab.co.za/

ilab liberiaiLab Liberia

  • Founded: 2011
  • Promotes information sharing via technology
  • Provides an open environment for Liberian techies and organizations to learn info sharing tools, open source systems, and host tech meet-ups
  • Twitter: 127
  • http://www.ilabliberia.com/

KINU - TanzaniaKINU (Tanzania)

  • Founded: 2012
  • An open space for Tanzania’s tech community to foster co-creation, innovation and capacity building
  • Twitter: 52
  • http://kinu.co.tz

The iHills Network (Rwanda)

G Space (Ghana)

  • an open community space where technology and entrepreurialism intersect to build innovative solutions
  • http://gspace.addhen.org

The Lab’s (Togo)

  • innovation center
  • http://www.thelabs-tg.net (site not yet up?)

Flat6Labs (Egypt)

University Labs:

markerere university cocis labMakerere Univesity Software Incubation Lab at COCIS (Makerere, Uganda)

  • Established: December 2010
  • one of the largest computing and ICT training, information science, research and consultancy colleges in Africa
  • http://www.cis.mak.ac.ug/

avoir open initiative

African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR) (South Africa)

Planned Technology Cities:

konzaKonza (Konza, Kenya)

Rhapta City (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Foreign Efforts:

ictworks inveneoICTWorks (San Francisco, United States)

  • resource for sharing and expanding knowledge on appropriate information and communication technologies
  • implements sustainable processes in rural and underserved communities across the developing world
  • Facebook: 569 / Twitter: 2839
  • http://www.ictworks.org/