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Top 5 African Tech Firms to watch in 2009

This month we set out to find 5 technology companies in Africa and the Diaspora that will likely make major strides in 2009.  Here’s what we came up with…

5. Pamoja Media Directory Listing »
Industry: Technology
Visit: www.pamojamedia.com
pamoja-media-logoRecently launched, Pamoja Media has established itself as a pioneer in online marketing by targeting both the African Diaspora and continent.  The company with its ‘first to market’ designation has positioned itself as the only online ad network for businesses targeting Africans in both the Diaspora and Africa.  Historically, its been difficult to target the diverse groups of Africans in the Diaspora, but Pamoja has positioned themselves as leaders in what may become a crowded space if they are successful.  The founder and owner, Joshua Wanyama, was recently selected as a TED 2009 Fellow, which probably had a lot to do with his work on Pamoja Media.  Pamoja Media also recognizes the Diaspora market as becoming a more sought after market than ever before.  Companies in Africa and in the Diaspora alike have witnessed this group of individuals become the largest single source of foreign direct investment to African economies, making it very hard to ignore the spending power that this group holds.  Given that there are enough mid to large online publishers on the Pamoja Network, we believe companies will see this Ad network as a great one stop solution to reaching this highly educated and prosperous demographic.  That is why we chose Pamoja Media as our number 5 company to watch in 2009.
4. Frontline SMS Directory Listing »
Industry: Technology
Visit: www.frontlinesms.com
frontlinesms-logoWhile Frontline SMS has been around for a while and is already successfully used by various organizations around the world, we believe that in 2009 there will be increased demand on the African continent for their mass text messaging platform.  Given an increase in the number of Africans accessing information on mobile devices, coupled with the realization by many organizations that technology is a viable way of reaching mass groups of people in Africa, NGO’s and other organizations will recognize the need to use a tool like Frontline SMS.  Historically, a lack of efficient communication tools has been a major barrier for grassroots non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in developing countries. FrontlineSMS is the first text messaging system created exclusively with this problem in mind.  That’s why we chose Frontline as our number 4 choice for technolgy companies to watch in 2009.
3. Orange Directory Listing »
Country: France
Industry: Technology
Visit: www.orange.fr
orange-logoOrange is a French telecoms company that has successfully bought itself into the African market over the last few years, by either partnering with or buying local telecoms, possibly making them the single largest investor and owner of fixed lines in Africa.  We chose Orange as our number three company to watch because, the company will likely start to realize a quick return on investment, as some fibre optic undersea cables are completed and go live this year.  It is about to give African Multinational Telecoms firms MTN and Celtel a run for their money.  We believe Orange will control the high end market, as corporations, governments and NGO’s seek more secure communication solutions through fixed line broadband solutions.  France Telecom-Orange is also backing the development of a new 12,000 km cable, called ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), that will extend from Gabon to France, and from 2011 will connect Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France. An extension to South Africa is also being studied.

For this project, France Telecom and its subsidiaries Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Bissau, Orange Cameroun, Orange Guinée, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, Orange Spain and Sonatel have teamed up with numerous international operators.  We’ve chosen Orange as our number 3 company to watch in 2009, as their investments in some African countries are harvested and threaten other Telecoms operators.

2. AfriGator Directory Listing »
Country: South Africa
Industry: Technology
Visit: www.afrigator.com
afrigator-logoAfrigator Internet (Pty) Ltd is a technology company based in Cape Town, South Africa that was launched in 2007 as a social media aggregator and blog directory – and more recently launched Adgator – a targeted blog advertising network.  The company, our number two pick, has already enjoyed a fair amount of success with a steady 25% month-to-month growth rate.  As the blogosphere continues grow at increasing rates on the continent of Africa, Afrigator is establishing themselves as the leading agrigator and online ad agency in top African markets.  This company is well positioned to be a market leader in the African online advertising space.  A space that is growing exponentially in Africa and poised to grow even faster as costs decrease accross the continent.  Their focus on blogs gives them a leading presence in what is the most viral community on the web.  We’re looking for incredible growth this year from this company, as infrastructure improvements make internet access cheaper and more accessible than ever.  It doesn’t hurt that they recently recieved a cash infusion from MIH Print Africa, a subsidiary of Naspers Limited, which bought a majority share in the company.  Afrigator is our number 2 technology company to watch in 2009.
1. Ushahidi Directory Listing »
Industry: Technology
Visit: www.ushahidi.com
ushahidi-logoThere is perhaps, no other African online venture that has received more press than Ushahidi in 2008 and 2009.  Ushahidi, which is a a Kiswahili word meaning ‘Testimony’, become a viable tool during the recent erruption of post election violence in Kenya.  The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.  They are our number one choice for several reasons.  First, the management team lead by Erik Hersman is well respected in African circles as well as by the international media.  Secondly, with several ongoing conflicts on the continent of Africa, and other regions there is real demand for their mapping tool and finally its a free and open source platform for everyone to use.  Ushaidi is our number 1 African tech company to watch in 2009

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