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Crowdfunding to improve African ICT access

September 4, 2013  »  WebOne Comment

One year ago we noted the lack of African crowdfunded tech projects on popular platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Plenty of projects focused on African needs but few dealt with internet access, computers, and the like. We are now pleased to count dozens of tech-inclined projects on these popular sites.

From 2011-2013, there have been more than 50 Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects to help improve African ICT access and/or literacy. Most have successfully raised money within the past year and a dozen are actively raising money as of writing. What’s more, the geographic footprint is large; 18 African countries either are home to a project or are the beneficiary of a project. Many projects aim to build a local computer lab or support youth capacity-building. But many others serve other diverse purposes. Perhaps the most successful African crowdfunded tech project is BRCK – the backup generator for the internet that raised $172,000 in mid-2013.

Crowdfunding is popular among small businesses and social development projects. Artists and social activists are especially fond of the platform. Focusing on purely ICT, we’ve compiled a list of crowdfunded projects that seek (or sought) to further African computing. They are listed alphabetically by country and include the amount raised and end date. More on African crowdfunding platforms can be found after the list.

Africa at-large:

  • The Cheetah Code – $4,096 (unsuccessful), Sept 2012 – “The Cheetah Code is a film and book that explores Africa’s new creative class and rapidly evolving technology sector.”
  • Finding Innovation In Africa – $3,151 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “Help me raise funds to journey halfway around the world, to write a book about technology and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Cameroon:

  • Ignite ecommerce in Cameroon – $0 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “Contribute in creating a sustainable tech ecosystem in Cameroon by kick starting Pursar (online payments) and commerce driven web and mobile applications.”
  • Community Development in Cameroon – $5,230, Apr 2013 – “I have been invited to intern in Cameroon working on social projects. It is a life goal of mine but I can not accomplish this without your help.”

DR Congo:

East Africa:

  • Young World Inventors (dot) com – $8,050, Aug 2011 – “‘Insider’ web stories of East African start-ups with business ideas for social change in Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania.”
  • Tunapanda: Free Education For All – $13,788 (unsuccessful), Apr 2013 – “Beginning in East Africa, Tunapanda is explaining, downloading, and spreading a wide variety of free online courses and learning tools.”

Egypt:

  • 18 Days in Egypt – $20,142, Feb 2012 – “An interactive storytelling website documenting a year of revolution in Egypt through compelling personal stories and social media.”
  • HarassMap – donate & help end sexual harassment in Egypt – $25,704, Jul 2013 – “To run a massive game-changing campaign in TV, print, radio, online, on the ground, pop culture that will turn the tables on the sexual harassment epidemic.”

The Gambia:

  • Computers for two Schools in the Gambia – $0 (in progress), Oct 2013 – “We want to repair and get some new Computers to Teachers and Students in two Schools in the Gambia. They are well established schools, but not good equipped.”

Ghana:

librii-kickstarter

Librii {Kickstarter}

  • Librii: New Model Library in Africa – $52,350, Apr 2013 – “A digitally enhanced, community-based, revenue-generating library on the frontiers of broadband connectivity.”
  • Help Buy Computers for Under Privileged Teenagers in Hohoe, Ghana – $1,785 (unsuccessful), Sept 2012 – “These computers will not only help under-privileged teenagers become computer proficient, but empower them to aspire towards a better future.”
  • At the Other Side of Technology – $2,821, Oct 2012 – “Useless old PCs from rich nations pile up in Agbogbloshie, the Africa’s biggest e-waste dumping site. This is how people live in it and make a living out of it.”
  • A Healthy Africa: Traditional Medicine and Clinical Software – $5,776, Jul 2013 – “An African Tradition — better understood with efficient data management software.”
  • Hub Accra: Accelerating Africa’s Ideas – $1,606 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “Hub Accra accelerates Africa’s rising entrepreneurs to launch start-ups that create much needed jobs & development to the poorest region of the world.”
  • Empower women to charge-up Ghana – 1.385€ (in progress), Oct 2013 – “Our goal is to train young disadvantaged women in Ho, Ghana to manufacture cheap and stylish solar-powered cell phone rechargers that are sold locally.”
  • The Education Center, Ghana – $1,450 (unsuccessful), Mar 2013 – “The Education Center is a community development project that will fill the need for a library, computer center, playground, garden, and vocational workshops.”
  • Free Software in Ghana – $1,689 (unsuccessful), Nov 2013 – “Beth Lynn Eicher will travel uncompensated and with $3000 of personal expenses to Ghana Africa to deploy 100 desktops.”

Kenya:

brck-kickstarter

BRCK {Kickstarter}

Malawi:

  • SUPOCHO Malawi Charity – $2,140, Aug 2013 – “Help SUPOCHO empower orphans and vulnerable young people of Malawi to study computer skills and improve their lives.”

Mali:

Nigeria:

Réunion:

  • Improve BandCochon website – 1,281€ (unsuccessful), Aug 2013 – “Help us to improve the Bandcochon website that fights against illegal waste dump in our island.”

Rwanda:

mobile-charging-kiosk-indiegogo

Solar Mobile Charging Kiosk {Indiegogo}

  • Solar Mobile Charging Kiosk – $1,964 (in progress), Oct 2013 – “The campaign is about bringing the Mobile Charging Kiosk using renewable energy technology to the base of the pyramid.”

Senegal:

  • Cybraries – $1,520 (in progress) – “Internet training centers to help students in Africa develop 21st century skills.”

South Africa:

  • Gummie: first urban magazine in Johannesburg, South Africa – $9,028, Jul 2012 – “Online magazine about people, places and events in Gotham City of Africa.”
  • Help build a Library for Christian David School! – $1,690, Sept 2013 – “Raising funds to build a library in at Christian David Primary School, which serves underprivileged children from impoverished townships outside Cape Town.”
  • Technology to Enrich the Education of South African Kids – $6,075, Mar 2013 – “I am looking to raise money for South African kids who need a better education. I want to integrate technology into their daily lives.”
  • Interplay Campaign – $5,600, Apr 2013 – “Fundraising to film and distribute a high quality DVD version of Interplay (Internet Education Play) to marginalised schools in South Africa.”
  • Getting Kids Connected – $1,410, May 2013 – “Help the children at Brooklyn Chest Hospital access the internet to connect with their families and to reach out to other children around the world.”
  • Young in Prison South Africa Fundraising 2013 – $660 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “Young in Prison provides youth the opportunity to learn positive community participation through workshops encompassing creative arts, sports, and literacy.”
  • StartupBus Africa – 807€ (in progress), Oct 2013 – “StartupBus is a 5 days hackathon on wheels through Africa. 40 people are driving 2500km and have to conceive, build & launch a startup.”

Swaziland:

  • Raspberry Pi Computer Lab – $3,145 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “The students of rural Swaziland need the skills and education to improve their own lives. Let’s help provide them with one of the many tools they need.”

Tanzania:

  • Community Owned Computer Lab in Tanzania – $3,070, Aug 2013 – “NLab (formerly OUFLab) is a community owned project for young programmers, developers and designers to present their ideas, and strengthen them practically.”

Tunisia:

  • DefenDoor – $1,212 (unsuccessful), Nov 2012 – “DefenDoor will be a massive online game on Facebook. With action and strategy you will have to defend your door and invade the enemy.”
  • Changing Reporting from the Middle East – $2,070 (unsuccessful), Jun 2013 – “We challenge mainstream media with a network of bloggers, journalists, activists, and experts.”

Uganda:

hackers-uganda-kickstarter

Hackers in Uganda {Kickstarter}

  • Hackers in Uganda: A Documentary – $16,145, May 2013 – “the story of a group of humanitarian computer hackers providing technological education and services in Uganda.”
  • GEARS Uganda Computer Center – $2,320, Jun 2013 – “In conjunction with an established local partner NGO, we are opening a computer training and internet center in Fort Portal, Uganda.”
  • Our Office – $1,500, Oct 2012 – “A call for support to have at least one computer for our starting office.”
  • Opening a Self Sufficient Internet Cafe in Kasese, Uganda – $405 (in progress), Sept 2013 – “Money raised through this campaign will fund a small internet cafe in Kasese, Uganda.”

Zambia:

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Despite the prevalence of projects devoted to getting African communities connected to the internet and computers, there is a lack of startups using crowdfunding to grow business.

Crowdfunding can and should play a critical role in closing the funding gap tech startups in Africa.” – Munya Chiura, Head of Africa Operations at Grow VC International Ltd.

At a higher level, there is a lack of crowdfunded African technology startups. App creators often only need $10,000 to expand their prototype, yet the funds are lacking even when divided up to reduce investor risk.

In addition, African crowdfunding platforms lack traction. Ventureburn sums up the situation best, saying “In Africa, crowdfunding could still be considered being in its beta phase but has the potential to evolve the startup financing culture of the continent. It’s also being adapted to create a new and interesting chapter for platforms to fit Africa’s unique environment.”

A successful crowdfunded startup will serve a local African need through African action, but much funding needs to come from international sources. Finding the balance here can be tricky (but BRCK found it), for example. The Ventureburn article also does a great job explaining how African crowdfunding is at a disadvantage due to limited payment options, a lack of proper legislation, lower internet/social media access, and challenges streaming video to promote projects.