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Why my startup scene is better than yours: Tanzania

Which African tech startup ecosystem is the best, either for launching a business or making investments?

Which African tech startup ecosystem is the best, either for launching a business or making investments?

Disrupt Africa has been talking to stakeholders from various African tech ecosystems to find out what it is that makes them tick.

We’ve already heard from ecosystem players in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana, but now is the chance for stakeholders in the Tanzanian tech space to make their case.

Jumanne Mtambalike, formerly of Buni Hub, now co-founder Sahara Ventures

“The government was the first to pilot the major innovation space in Dar es Salaam, Buni Hub, which sparked other innovation spaces across the country, and they are still establishing new spaces through the Commission For Science and Technology Tanzania.

“It is a trendy now to see large corporate companies, especially telecoms, either partnering or acquiring new products from the startup ecosystem. For example, Vodacom M-paper, Tigo Twende App, and Tigo Backup, all products from innovators from the ecosystem.

“New blocks of ecosystems are being formed everyday to complement the existing ones, while there is a trend of tech companies and startups moving to an area called Kijitonyama/Kinondoni Bagamoyo Road, which is naturally becoming the core of innovation and technology in Dar es Salaam, with all the telecoms stationed there, the University of Dar es Salaam College of ICT, TTCL Data Centres, Commission For Science and Tech Tanzania, Buni Hub and Sahara Accelerator. Wait to hear the new buzzword “Silicon Dar”.”

Rogers Katuma, CEO of Ekamatt

“Currently, Tanzania is passing through a major restructuring of its government, policy framework and investment ecosystem, which will foster a strong base for innovation, governance and regulations that support the startup scene. With more organisations participating in creating or supporting accelerators, bootcamps and startup programmes, more innovation, creativity and individuals, groups and startups are emerging on the scene and paving the way for more growth.

“I wouldn’t say we have amazing start-up ecosystem yet considering the fact that tax issues don’t support startups at all in our country, access to funds and capital is still limited to risky ventures, and the labour market has mostly not matured to accommodate innovative and bold creations. But compared to five years ago I can see Tanzania being a promised land if the same pace and direction persist.”

Edgar Mwampinge, co-founder of Worknasi

“The Tanzanian, tech startup ecosystem is slowly becoming stronger and better, and we can only give it time to see it flourish. Favourable government policies, local investors willing to invest in local startups, a stable economy with low rates of corruption, passion of tech enthusiasts to drive startups, and the quality of the products produced for market have made the ecosystem blossom and it’s light continues to flash strongly and steadily.

“Africa in general has a problem of political instability, and this influences investors. The more stable the country is, the more startups will sprout with a sound and strong vision, as nobody, not even locals, would invest in a business where they do not know if it will survive the next day due to political instabilities and high rates of corruption that frustrate the economy.”

Lilian Makoi, CEO of Jamii

“Tanzania’s startup ecosystem is just evolving, with lots of interest coming from international accelerators and incubators. The government in itself is trying to promote local startups and helping them get assistance from accelerators and incubators outside of Tanzania. As much as , these are great efforts and initiatives, Tanzania is still behind in terms of support to local entrepreneurs and good innovative ideas.

“Local entrepreneurs have great innovative ideas ranging from ed-tech, to agri-tech, to fintech, but we mostly struggle for access to mentors, funding and a willingness of corporate companies to work with startups. Less than five Tanzania-based startups have achieved corporate partnerships, raised funds or scaled up, but most are really struggling. We thirst for pre-seed angel investors, seed investors, local accelerators and incubators, and a network of mentors.

Joachim Freyhold, CEO of Tiketi

“Over the past decade, Tanzania has experienced an impressive average annual GDP growth rate of seven per cent. The country has some of the world’s finest tourist attractions and the discovery of gas reserves and prospects for oil reserves making it a land of untapped opportunities for investments ranging from agribusiness, tourism, manufacturing to importation.

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