There are over 300 tech hubs in Africa, with 50% of them concentrated in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco. However, Innovation hubs in Africa are overrated and are not giving more than coffee shops, restaurants and co-working spaces to entrepreneurs because of lack of a unique value proposition to the youth.
Speaking at the Africa Tech Summit in Rwanda, Abdahakim Ainte, of RiseHub said, “Innovation hubs are so much overrated in Africa. Youths sign in and realize they only get internet and nothing more an this causes them to be disillusioned as they don’t receive much more than what they will get from restaurants and coffee shops.”
Ainte adds that they are just spaces and doing businesses but to add value, they should be complimented or combined with building skills and capacity to help fill the unemployment gap and build a future generation of Einsten’s. Ainte urges innovation hubs to invest more in skills, training and tech support and not just a co-working space providing entrepreneurs with a place to work from.
However, Hannah Clifford GM of Nairobi Garage disagreed with Ainte mentioning that the Garage has helped connect entrepreneurs to investors something which would not have happened if the entrepreneurs were working from a restaurant or coffee shop.
Everyday, newer and newer co-working spaces launch in the market but collaboration is needed to build capacity, give value to users and help entrepreneurs move from idea to market. The entrepreneurs using the space need to be accountable to each other and turn job seekers into job creators in tech and non-tech fields.
Hubs used to be free but quickly realized that free space is not valued therefore began charging entrepreneurs.
“What we need is real technology instead of entertaining the jargon innovation which is not even not even African,” said Ainte. “Anyone can open an innovation hub, there has to be value being offered for us to be different from restaurants and coffee shops.”