Rwanda Emerges as Africa’s Thriving Tech and Startup Hub

Africa’s Thriving Tech and Startup Hub
Rwanda Emerges as Africa’s Thriving Tech & Startup Hub

For more than a year, Rwanda has been faced with social, health, and economic challenges at the hands of Covid-19. As Rwanda’s government enforced lockdowns and curfews, restricting external access, and limiting internal mobility, some used the pandemic as a motivating source to tap into their potential, build on existing skills and even start a business.

Rwanda is already a well-known tech hub in Africa, creating the kind of tech ecosystem that attracts the interest of investors and start-up entrepreneurs alike. In recent times, the country has been re-emerging as Africa’s thriving tech and startup hub although the country’s own ICT policies and solutions have helped to lay a solid foundation for a steady climb as a budding hub for tech talent and startups.

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Making sense of Rwanda’s startup dollars

With 75% of Rwanda’s labor force being a product of agriculture, young tech talent and entrepreneurs are shifting their focus to fintech, e-commerce, sustainable energy, business management, etc. to meet the needs of its citizens, and customers throughout Africa. The growing demands throughout these sectors allow Rwandan talents and companies to invest in underserved populations while pouring into the startup ecosystem.

The country has an estimated 20 startups, which provide services in virtual banking, edtech, maize production, transportation, women-based health and consumer goods, and more. According to The New Times, in 2020, Africa’s 397 startups raised over $700 million in financing. Two of those are Rwanda-based startups, Kasha Rwanda and GET IT, raising $4 million alone.

Growing beyond the valley

Backed by the country’s government and educational agencies, in 2019, Kigali Innovation City became the new home of Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa). This smart city project is designed to accommodate world-class universities, research and development centers, technology companies, and innovative start-ups.  

It is a significant cornerstone of Rwanda’s foundation as an international technology and innovation hub and will contribute to domestic economic growth through progressive tax policies and local content requirements, among many other benefits. The tech nucleus, based in the country’s capital, has been described as “Africa’s very own Silicon Valley”.

With a facility that expands student reach and lab space, compared to its previous location in Telecom House, CMU-Africa continues to implement programs aided in closing the gap between skilled engineers and elevating Africa’s thriving tech and startup hub transformation, socioeconomic and digital ecosystems.

The World Bank has listed Rwanda as 29th in its 2019 “Doing Business” report, in part because of the government’s promotion of information and communication technology. For instance, the country offers an entrepreneur visa, free spaces to work from, a steady rule of law, and a quick registration process for businesses, features which have led some to call it the “test kitchen of Africa.”

Identifying talent within reach

In addition to CMU-Africa, Rwanda has many notable startup communities and hubs, like Iris Hub, Impact Hub Kigali, and FabLab Rwanda, that continue to guide future entrepreneurs and current startups with the resources to gain capital, product launch, and ultimately success in an evolving workforce.

As a freelance talent marketplace headquartered in Ethiopia, Gebeya Inc. finds accessing the best African talent to be critical. Our talent platform aims to identify and cultivate tech talent throughout the continent, especially those areas like Rwanda, with minimal representation. 

To date, Gebeya has had numerous freelance talents from the country and looks to grow the numbers over time. Although Rwanda is small in population, it is Africa’s thriving tech and startup hub and is making a big impact on competitiveness and the whole technology ecosystem. Search for top freelance talents in Rwanda or any African country below.

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