Kenya’s Rise in Tech Start-Ups and the Legacy of Mobile Gaming


Once overlooked by the global technology industries, the continent of Africa has harnessed the interest of major market players today, as well as created many of its own.

On November 7th 2022, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank signed an agreement for $9.73 million in funds to implement phase one of the Upstream Project for Digital Market Development in Africa. This phase will run from 2023 to 2026 and the funds are intended to increase e-commerce and digital trade opportunities for small and micro businesses, as well as contribute to the overall growth of the African digital market. 

This is especially good news for Kenya as a rising star in the global technological market. The country’s digital economy has been steadily accelerating since 2016 and today the capital city of Nairobi is home to some of the most innovative start-ups around. The ‘silicon Savannah,’ as Kenya’s tech ecosystem has been dubbed, is offering incentives and support to Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs), with the intent of driving economic growth and narrowing the country’s digital divide. In April this year, the Kenyan government launched its ten-year digital master plan and set aside $132 million for ICT initiatives. Other African banks and global tech giants are also providing incentives and initiatives for tech SMEs’, start-ups, and talented tech professionals.

Computer hardware and FinTech are among some of the services bringing in the most bucks in Kenya. However, there has been an increase in SMEs providing game development services, especially for mobile games. Kenyan SMEs Risivonne Investments, Kiss Devs, Cryptonix Softwares, and Leti Arts are incredibly varied in their branding and scope, but all provide mobile app and game development services. This emphasizes the relevance of mobile game development in Kenya’s market. Kiss Devs, in particular, focuses primarily on mobile game development, as well as web design and development.

Once limited to a few locations, the global playfield is leveling out for game developers of all kinds. Indeed, the top five developers that can be found listed time and time again represent an international map. Playtech, for example, started out in Estonia, and now operates in seventeen different countries. Also listed in this blog post is the company Microgaming, which developed the first online casino game in 1994. Microgaming was founded by South African entrepreneur Martin Moshal after he graduated from the University of Cape Town. Today, the company is based on the Isle of Man and has offices in Gibraltar. It supplies games to over 40% of online casinos and hosts the world’s largest progressive jackpot network. 

Source: Unsplash

With the scope of initiatives and support currently available today, there is little in the way of Kenyan developers like Kiss Devs from aspiring to the same heights. As well as the AUC’s Upstream Project and the Kenyan government’s ten-year plan, there are a number of other initiatives in the works to provide opportunities, funds, and education to tech hopefuls. The ever-growing and changing tech ecosystem of the ‘Silicone Savannah’ shows no signs of grinding to a halt, but rather continuing to swim upstream.