With the World Economic Forum on Africa starting today in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Business Action for Africa and the Initiative for Global Development put together a list of the West African country’s most promising technology companies.
Major brands, such as Guinness, have found a huge market for alcoholic beverages in Nigeria. Drinks.ng, founded by Lanre Akinlagun, offers an online platform for Nigerian consumers to buy any volume of verified authentic drinks.
Nigeria’s urbanisation and economic growth have had some side effects. A shortage of high-quality rental property has been exacerbated by opaque and manual mechanisms for customers. In 2013, Sulaiman Balogun created Nigeria’s first online property broker, helping urban consumers quickly find property.
Casual visitors to Nigeria often have a shared complaint – that hotel rooms are prohibitively expensive, and it is tough to find a room. Spotting that there was no centralised listing and booking service for independent hotels, Mark Essien created one.
For all of its consumer potential, the evolution of Nigeria’s online retail industry has been hampered by an absence of payment infrastructure and a relatively low penetration of credit cards. Jumia, “Africa’s Amazon”, solved this by sending out its products on bikes and collecting cash payments.
Former soldier Sim Shagaya launched e-commerce business Konga.com in June 2012. After major investments from Swedish venture capital fund Investment AB Kinnevik and the South African media conglomerate Naspers, the company is moving to a huge new fulfilment centre in Lagos.
One of the first of Nigeria’s new wave of technology companies, Pagatech was founded in 2009 and allows users to perform a number of transactions through their mobile phones. As online retail takes off, mobile payments will be vital.
One of Nigeria’s technology old guard, Jobberman was founded by three Nigerian entrepreneurs in 2009 as a job search and recruitment website. Now the region’s most popular recruitment site, it has expanded into Ghana and has eyes for other countries.
Although software gets a lot of attention, Nigerian companies have also begun to develop hardware. Solo’s handsets and media platform are tailored to the domestic market, offering dual-sims and a huge library of Nigerian music.
Mobile gaming has changed how developers think about game design, and created an industry away from big studios and big budgets. Nigerian studio Kuluya had a smash hit with Oga @ The Top, which led to a partnership with Nokia in 2013.
Getting hold of genuine spare parts for cars worn out by Nigeria’s battered roads is a constant battle. Auto box matches authentic dealers with customers and delivers parts to their doors, taking some of the stress out of repair work.
This article was first published in The New Africa – Nigeria: From Growth to Opportunity, a report by Business Action for Africa and the Initiative for Global Development