African startups are harnessing the potential of Africa's rapid urbanisation which by the end of the century, is estimated to have13 of the world’s 20 largest cities in the world.
Globally, urban start-ups like Uber and Airbnb are drawing in billions of dollars in venture capital while organisations like Sidewalk Labs, URBAN-X and Urban Us are changing cities and helping to scale urban innovations across North America. Some emerging startups have jumped on the mission to actively reimaginie Africa's emerging cities and their slums.
Here are some of the start-ups shaping the future of cities across the continent.
Max.ng is a motorcycle taxi service operating in three Nigerian cities. It has completed over 1,000,000 rides and is one of Jumia’s largest delivery partners in West Africa. There are tremendous opportunities for motorcycle taxi services in Africa due to inefficiencies in mass transit and growing urban populations. Their model provides safe and affordable transportation by offering trained, accountable drivers and the convenience of booking rides through a mobile app. They recently announced $7 million in funding and are the only motorcycle taxi service positioning themselves for Africa’s electric vehicle future by investing in infrastructure for solar charging stations. This could potentially revolutionise urban mobility as they plan to expand to 10 West African cities.Twiga Foods
Food prices are over 30% higher in sub-Saharan Africa than prices in the rest of the world at comparable GDP levels per capita. Much of this is due to inefficiencies in supply chains and farming practices. Twiga Foods is a digital marketplace that lets grocers in cities order farm produce from smallholder farmers in rural areas across Kenya and have it delivered at competitive prices. This eliminates the inefficiencies of sourcing mostly perishable foods daily, while guaranteeing farmers consistent income and timely payments. According to a recent report, Twiga Foods is the largest domestic distributor of food produce in Kenya, servicing 10,000 vendors in Nairobi and neighbouring counties through a network of 13,000 farmers.mPharma
mPharma is eliminating inefficiencies in the pharmaceuticals supply chain across Africa. These inefficiencies lead to consumers paying up to three times as much as patients in western countries. After food, medicines make up the largest family expenditure for most developing countries. This leads to patients’ inability to buy the drugs they need when they need them. mPharma solves this by sourcing and procuring medicines and stocking pharmacies across Africa at no cost to the pharmacies. They negotiate lower prices with the best manufacturers and also provide flexible payment options for patients. Currently operating in five African countries, they manage inventory for a network of over 200 pharmacies and serve more than 40,000 patients each month.LifeBank
Two-thirds of the world’s maternal deaths per year occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these are preventable, and many are partly due to a shortage of blood supplies. LifeBank was founded by Temie Giwa-Tubosun to deliver much-needed medical products such as blood, blood products, oxygen and vaccines to hospitals across Africa. They have partnered with Google to cut down delivery time to less than 45 minutes using Google Maps and, since 2016, have moved over 12,000 units of blood to hospitals and screening centres, thereby saving almost 5,000 lives.Sendy
Sendy is a parcel delivery service that operates across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and links more than 1,000 delivery drivers to customers. The service is used by over 5,000 businesses and 50,000 individuals to make deliveries which are insured and can be tracked in real-time from a mobile app. This leads to greater efficiency and reduced costs as it leverages a network of otherwise informally employed motorcycle, pickup, van and truck drivers. It also recently launched a freight service for domestic cargo transport.