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MXit tops Forbes Africa start-up list

SA's mobile messaging service, MXit, is the number one-ranked technology start-up in Africa, according to Forbes Magazine.

Alan Knott-Craig Jnr's popular social messaging network is one of nine South African companies – including Yola, Obami and Motribe – that are in the business magazine's top 20 African technology start-up list this month.

Kenyan and Nigerian start-ups also feature prominently on the list, as four companies from the East African country and two companies from the West African nation are listed.

Other companies from Ghana, Tanzania, the Cameroon and even the UK make up the remainder of Africa's top tech start-ups.

“Nigeria and SA are the economic giants. Kenya and East Africa: we know that the government there, as well as the private sector have really embraced technology,” said Forbes Magazine's Africa head of research, Atusaye Mughogho.

Mughogho said Forbes conducted research for the list from its Johannesburg, Nairobi and Lagos bureaus.

Criteria the companies had to meet were that they had to have been in operation for less than 10 years; provide solutions to some of the continent's socio-economic and communication problems; have a robust social media presence; and be Pan-African in scope and service offering, an article in the magazine said.

Compiling a list of this nature, however, was a challenge, owing to the difficulty of accessing information on the continent, said Mughogho.

“I'm sure that there is a high possibility that we've missed out on some guys on the continent doing some great work,” he said.

The list also shines a spotlight on challenges facing African start-ups.

A lack of funding, long waiting periods to set up a business in many African countries, and governments' lack of support for the tech industry on the continent are obstacles standing in the way of African tech entrepreneurs, according to Mughogho.

“Outside of Kenya, we haven't seen governments really embracing and trying to drive this sector forward,” he said.


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