African Startups Should Create Solutions for Africa Not the West


africaStartups in Africa have been urged to create solutions relevant to the continent and not building solutions targeting the west as the west already has its own tech ecosystem catering for it.

Speaking to TechMoran at the 10th Anual East Africa Com conference, Kai Wulff, Google’s Access Field Development Director said,”Whether one is creating a mobile app, a factory or any business idea they should focus on creating solutions for the continent and not building for the west. There are many startups replicating ideas that are successful in the west which might not work in Africa. Africa needs developers building for Africa instead of targeting the US , Europe or other markets.”

Wulff, Kenya Data Networks’ (KDN) first Chief Executive Officer joined Google in 2012 and is based at  Google’s Mountain View, California global headquarters. Set in, Google’s non-profit wing, Wulff works to bring broadband to emerging markets through projects such as the TV Whitespaces technology and Project Loon. He’s also responsible for defining and implementing access projects in emerging markets, as well as identifying and incubating promising technological solutions apart from managing vendors and logistics.

Wulff’s comment come just a few days before Rocket Internet’s alleged IPO, which is famous for replicating successful business ideas in the West for emerging markets which has proven to be a success.

“There are not enough people creating solutions for Africa. Most businesses want to use cheap labour to create solutions on Africa for the west and this means they’re not developing the local ecosystem at all. They think they can just create and sell it. We need startups that believe in Africa and are building for Africa,” he added.

During his presentation on Infrastructure Sharing, Wulff mentioned that Africa should not think of building the next Google, it should instead built local solutions to local problems. Hackathons and various tech competitions in Africa aim at finding the next Facebook or Google and seem to leave out startups aiming at solving local problems to NGO’s, something which investors say ruins the ecosystem.

Businesses like M-Farm, M-KOPA, among others aim at solving the problems faced by the rural African farmer community, and also address the electricity problem and are all backed by NGO’s. Recently, KibaruaNow, a TaskRabbit for Africa received backing to launch in Nairobi.