The past 5 years have seen an upward trend in events focused on tech and startups across Africa. Yet, Afrobytes, one of them, is becoming a notable annual must-attend. Especially to catch up with happenings across Africa’s tech startup ecosystem.
Started in 2016, the event has gone through a significant evolution, with the introduction of a Hong Kong tour earlier this year. Yet, according to Ammin, they are looking to take things up a notch up.
The event’s founders, Ammin Youssouf (CEO) and Haweya Mohamed (MD & Head of Communications), who were recently named among “The 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs in 2018” by Entrepreneur, want it to become a global link to Africa’s tech.
A marketplace, as Ammin refers to it, Afrobytes’ ultimate goal is to create meaningful synergies for its attendants. Adding to that description, Ammin further calls it an API.
“We invite you to plug in with what we do to create more value [for you],” he pointed out. Currently, the focus is on helping startups with securing funding, partnerships and exposure.
In the past, the event has attracted representatives from a couple of big names. With the notables being LVMH, Facebook and Google.
By having such people at the event, Ammin believes that they are making it easier for founders to kick-start conversations with them. “We are always trying to integrate new people into Africa’s tech ecosystem,” he pointed out.
To date, over 400 startups have attended and benefited. Though, the outstanding beneficiary is CoinAfrique – a classifieds startup in West Africa. The startup closed over $3 million in funding early this year, after making an appearance at Afrobytes 2017. “We helped them connect to their investors,” Ammin said.
Another company, that he declined to disclose, signed a partnership with Kenyan telecom, Safaricom. The two met at Afrobytes last year.
But, not everyone can make it to Paris, where the main event takes place. Hence the move to decentralize through a couple of satellite events.
Starting December, they will hold events across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The cities that they have mapped out and the dates are; London (Dec/2018), New York (Jan/2019), San Francisco (Jan/2019), Hong Kong (Feb/2019), Nairobi (March/2019) and Addis Ababa (April/2019).
While the main event will still take place in Paris with the dates yet to be communicated.
At all the events, the same topics of Blockchain and AI will be discussed. Though, in the context of their applicability to sectors like agriculture, logistics, education, finance etc.
Ammin believes that the AI and Blockchain have to be given priority. Otherwise, Africa will lag behind.
“Google is coming, Facebook is coming, Alibaba is coming,” he said, “the [technology] ‘war’ is coming and we can’t compete with bows and arrows.” His goal, thus, is to get as many Africans ready for that competition as possible.
Beyond the events, Ammin and Haweya, both French citizens who originate from Comoros and Somalia, have bigger plans for the African tech ecosystem. One of them is launching a fund.
“In the future, we are looking to evolve into a fund,” Ammin said. Adding that they “are still at the early stages of that.”
Other than money, the fund – according to Ammin – should be able to provide world-class support to the entrepreneurs they will invest in.
Although they will be based in France, he says that it would be better than one getting into an incubator or accelerator in the US. Starting with the difference in time zones.
“The founder has to travel to the West Coast,” he points out, “how do you manage your team from the West Coast? Operationally speaking, it is very difficult!”