Four Kenyan Firms in CNN’s List of 15 African Tech Startups to Watch


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Four of Kenya’s ICT startups – BRCK, SleepOut, Kopo Kopo and Able Wireless – have been listed among the 15 tech firms to watch in 2014 by CNN in a guest article contributed by STUFF editor Toby Shapshak.

Shapshak states in the article thus: “Drawing up this list, I was struck by how readily I thought of good South African tech firms that deserved to be here — so I shamelessly let my patriotic fervor guide me. Looking back, I still think they all deserve to be on this list. Several of the names on this list come from the final 40 of this year’s Demo Africa the African arm of this renowned launch event for tech start-ups, held in Nairobi.”

Below is how CNN highlights the 4 ICT startups:

BRCK: Toby Shapshak has selected Africa’s most interesting startups: “From the founders of real-time info site Ushahidi comes a brick-like device that they call ‘the internet’s backup generator.’ And that it is. The sturdy plastic-shelled device has everything you’d need to survive the wilds of the unreliably African internet, like Nairobi or Johannesburg. The BRCK has a big battery, so it can keep 20 devices connected for eight hours and is robust enough to handle power failures, poor line speeds and just general grumpiness.”

SleepOut: “Kind of like an AirBnb for Africa, but using SMS as much as the internet as its main interface, Kenya’s SleepOut was a highlight at Pivot East in Nairobi last year. It has a touch of to the bookings it offers in over 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East.”

Kopo Kopo: “With the Kenyan economy riding the M-Pesa wave, the key beneficiaries have been consumers using their phones to make payments. Kopo Kopo aims to make merchants the next mobile payment-enabled segment of society.”

Able Wireless: “One of the finalists at Demo Africa, Kenyan start-up Able Wireless wants to stream paid-for content for $6 per month using a household set-top box. It is an edge-of-network service that ‘delivers content over a wireless network through a secure device, reducing 83% of capital and operational costs for current network providers, creating a legitimate distribution system.”

Other firms in the top 15n tech list that featured at the 2013 edition of DEMO Africa are KARIBU Solar Power from Tanzania and South Africa’s online education platform Obami.

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