Business Focus, Feature Articles, ICT, Kenya | BY Jonathan Kalan | November 6, 2012 at 14:50
It’s raining in the Silicon Savannah, and unlike Nairobi’s unbearable traffic problem, no app has emerged promising to stop it.
Paul Kukubo, CEO of Kenya’s ICT Board, says the current debate about the state of Silicon Savannah is “not discouraging people, it’s making them think again”.
Inside the colourful and buzzing tech corridors of Africa’s first technology boom town, whispered conversations between investors are becoming amplified. Criticism, candid commentary and a dose of reality are dropping in from bloggers and pundits, challenging Kenya’s image as a place where African technology magic happens, where successful startups, apps, and entrepreneurs flow like water.
Over the past two years, media and the startups they cover have shared the responsibility of painting a glorified picture of Nairobi’s startup scene. They have built a collective hype that’s attracted investors, entrepreneurs and even journalists.
Yet for those who have arrived and stayed, what they have found is neither a vast oasis of untapped innovation, nor a dry and dusty savannah filled with empty promises. The reality lies somewhere in between – essentially a very young ecosystem with great potential, but one that also needs to mature and grow up.
As the choir gets louder, one thing is becoming apparent – a little rain on Kenya’s technology parade might actually be a good thing. It’s time for companies to sink or swim, for the good seeds to grow and the bad to be washed away.
Software and app startups are a dime a dozen here. Yet few are finding funding, and even fewer are actually making money. Entrepreneurialism has become a profession itself, and many young entrepreneurs are lacking the experience, training, and business acumen to make companies grow. This is something investors notice quite quickly.
“High expectations, big disappointment,” is how Kenyan blogger Kachwanya described Kenya’s current tech landscape, in a blog post that received 27 heated comments. Continue Reading…