Amrote Abdella spearheads Microsoft’s investments in Africa across 54 countries, working closely with her team to enable and accelerate digital transformation opportunities.
She was recently named one of Africa’s Top 100 Young Business Leaders, ranking 12th out of 100 leaders who are playing a major role in the continent’s economic development.
Before becoming Regional Director, Amrote was 4Afrika’s Director for VC & Startups, where she worked with start-ups supporting the innovation ecosystem in Africa.
Amrote writes about some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes and amazing tech start-ups in Africa.
Since the release of Black Panther, the world has been captivated. The action-packed and fun fantasy movie has been embraced for its representation of black people generally, and Africans specifically.
Another key element of the film’s cult-like status is the appeal of the fictional and futuristic African country, Wakanda – full of tech innovations and ultra-modern urban development.
But how removed is the world of Wakanda from our own? As a continent, Africa has many advantages that are driving us closer to that aspirational vision: economic growth in many states that is outpacing much of the world, and a youthful population with an entrepreneurial bent.
And unlike Wakanda, we aren’t afraid to share our innovations.
Microsoft 4Afrika has been playing their part in Africa’s digital transformation. We have been supporting businesses, government projects, startups and young workers through empowering changes in internet access, service delivery enabled by tech and economic development.
Launched in 2013, 4Afrika’s approach has seen them partner with projects of high impact that are driving Africa’s technological awakening. The following are some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes.
Music to our ears
Damola Taiwo, Dolapo Taiwo, and Tola Ogunsola are three entrepreneurs who have come through the 4Afrika community and are transforming streaming music in Nigeria through their MyMusic digital music platform (MyMusic.com.ng).
MyMusic not only gives users access to home-grown music favorites but has a chatbot that helps users discover new songs and download the ones they love.
This bot – built on Skype – was showcased at the Microsoft NexTech Africa conference, and is one of the new technologies that has helped MyMusic grow to 700 000 active monthly users.
Their success is largely rooted in local knowledge – understanding the peculiarities of the cash-driven market. Given this, their smart use of airtime-as-payment lets users buy songs with a single click.
It’s a viable business which creates a powerful ripple effect that supports and monetizes African musicians.
Pay it forward
Another growing Nigerian start-up supported by 4Afrika is SpacePointe. Sayu Abend and Osato Osayande started this omnichannel platform with the explicit purpose of supporting business owners.
They do this by offering an innovative mobile point-of-service application designed for the Nigerian market. This helps thousands of online and offline businesses transact, and streamline their sales, marketing, and payment processing.
Theirs is a superhero narrative of financial inclusion and economic growth in action.
When it comes to creativity and storytelling, Hollywood certainly doesn’t have the market fully covered. Nigerians and other Africans are creating new characters, challenges, and scenarios every day that are engaging local target audiences.
4Afrika grantee Gamsole, for example, has created 50 new mobile games for the Android and iOS platforms in the past two years. Gamsole games have had over 10 million downloads.
Most recently, in partnership with Diamond Bank, they created Dreamville on Azure, a digital financial platform that lets youth plan their future, save, chat and develop their financial literacy – all while playing games.
Skills for good
Our real-life tech heroes are also using their top skills for good. They are also partnering with other heroes of the non-profit sector to contribute to meaningful change in Africa.
The MySkills4Afrika project has supported four Nigeria non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their cloud journey. This has, in turn, helped them automate many administrative processes so they can spend more time on their transformative work.
These include Junior Chambers International, United for Education Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Technology for Sustainable Development. In partnering with the essential NGO space, we are amplifying the trans-formative effects for thousands of more people.
In the cloud, on the ground
Because of Africa’s documented historical infrastructure woes, we have become a continent famous for “leapfrogging” traditional infrastructure.
Cloud makes sense everywhere. But this is more so in Africa, as it provides the means to scale up without costly infrastructure development. It overcomes the issues inherent in legacy technology and software. It also reduces the significant barrier that a difficult and broadly distributed supply chain can become.
Through strategic use of cloud services, young African entrepreneurs are enjoying the same options as their established global counterparts.
The next wave
The real Vibranium of Africa is its people and its potential. The next superheroes of trade, purpose-drive entrepreneurship, and technology are waking up today in Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Yaoundé, and Cairo.
They are already discovering their abilities and nurturing their dreams. Let’s celebrate them and tell their stories. Just as much as we relish a different African narrative on the silver screen.
This article was written by Amrote Abdella, Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika.
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