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Expert eyes 13 more unicorns in Africa’s tech space

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The Partner and Group Head (Investment) at Platform Capital Ponmile Osibo has predicted that 13 more unicorns will emerge from Africa soon.

Osibo made this statement on Wednesday January 2, 2022, at a panel session on investments organised by BusinessDay newspapers and themed, ‘The Africa Business Convention 2022.’

A unicorn can be described as a privately-held start-up company valued at over $1 billion.

The investment expert noted that it took 12 years for the first African unicorn to be birthed, stressing that more unicorns would soon be appearing on the continent.

He said, “The first unicorn to emerge is called Interswitch. After that, we have been seeing more and more unicorn start-ups. At the moment, it is taking African start-ups three to four years to hit unicorn status. We think that would become a norm,” the expert said.

Osibo, lending credence to his firm’s findings, explained, “We think in the next few years, we will see 13 more unicorns come from Africa. We see the numbers and we are confident with that. On another note, the reason why I am confident is that we are seeing entrepreneurs break away from already successful companies to start their own firms. Most of these are former employees of Interswitch, Uber, Paystack, Flutterwave and so on. They have learnt how to be investors already.”

He said that there was an increase in data to make informed decisions than five years ago. He also added that more people were creating diversified business models and understanding the fundamentals better, while more tech entrepreneurs were gaining global exposure.

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“More people from Africa are going to YC more than ever. Finally, they understand the power of partnerships and the role of global institutions working with Africans. We would see a global shift soon,” he stated.

Nigeria has produced five unicorns on the continent, with three recently created – Flutterwave, OPay and Andela – joining Interswitch and Jumia to make the tally five from the West African nation alone. Two others on the continent are Fawry (Egypt) and Wave (Senegal). All of these firms are now valued at over $2bn, with Flutterwave said to be seeking a $3bn valuation in new funding round, just months after it crossed a billion dollars threshold.

Meanwhile, some tech executives, including the founders of Klarna, Skype, Delivery Hero and Flutterwave, have started a $200m venture capital fund aimed at finding the next $1bn-plus companies in Africa.

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