The African tech media scene is emerging stronger and stronger each year. Its growth parallels the overall positive growth in the continent’s tech companies. Every year for the last three years, African startups have recorded record funding rounds, technological advancement has been fast, and continental mediums have praised this as “Africa Rising.”
Let’s say the truth. African tech narrative in the media is boring. It is either idealistic or too scripted. That is why I try to write about non-mainstream subjects that affect people every day. I just realized that I didn’t write many personal posts this year. I will fix that.
— Osaretin Victor Asemota (@asemota) December 5, 2018
Because of these strides as reported in the media, it is easy to suggest that African media have focused too heavily on reporting the good aspects of tech and startups. African tech media is currently obsessed with funding rounds, tech events and other positive stories.
However, the reality on ground doesn’t match the entirely positive outlook of our tech media. Here are a few reasons why.
Startups Rarely Disclose Information (Unless It’s Good News)
Recently, mobile money company, Paga has been very outspoken about their growth. The company announced it added at least two million new users this year. Every time it added a million users it announced it on its blog. And when it does, tech platforms are quick to publish it. Of course, it’s news!
This made our Friday!🏆
Earlier today, Farmcrowdy was recognised by @BusinessDayNg as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria in 2018.💃🏻🤩
— Farmcrowdy (@farmcrowdy) December 7, 2018
But the company has never (or has rarely) disclosed essential details like number of daily active users, volume of transaction, or even the total value of their transactions. Meanwhile these are the key metrics used for startup valuation.
Asking for these details meanwhile is an uphill struggle. African tech startups rarely disclose them, unless you are a VC. But nobody is talking about these aspects. Is it because they may expose some negative information?
Tech Media Focus on Startups Springing Out But Rarely Check If They Are Truly Disruptive
A cursory look across several tech blogs, the view about most startups is that they’re innovative and their emergence would lead to a disruption in the industries they operate in. This is true for the financial services industry. But for other industries, not quite.
#Africa: a look at the 442 active #Tech hubs of the continent. – This blog and research have been co-authored by Dario Giuliani. Since the World Bank’s 2014 African #Tech #Hub study, … – #App #Funding #Growth #Investor #Startup #Technology – https://t.co/XgW78guwso
— Amanor (@dkarmah_) August 9, 2018
Yet, this is the mainstream view across board.
Specialised or semi-specialised reporting that gives a better narrative on the chances of a startup is truly missing. And with the scanty information startups themselves offer, one is really tempted to doubt if they indeed have disruptive capacities.
Many Problems Startups Say They’re Solving Still Exist
There are many startups operating in the agricultural sector and the fintech sector. Their aims have always been to make things better and more productivity for individuals in this market. But the reality is that much of the problems they are trying to address have not truly been fixed.
Dear Nigerian fintechs, all your innovations and strides are useless if you can't find a solution that allows Nigerians receive payments directly from abroad.
— Abubakar (@IAtalkspace) December 6, 2018
For instance, receiving money from abroad is still an extremely difficult task for Nigerians. No fintech has been able to offer an alternative for PayPal! And tech media shy away from such reportage, probably for fear of giving the glowing tech space a speck of darkness.
But to be fair, fintechs have been able to completely address many issues in the domestic payment industry.
How Are these a Problem?
When you consider the impact of each of these issues, you realize that the African tech media have focused on reporting only the positive and glittering aspects of tech. This is truly becoming boring. And in the long run doesn’t allow media platforms contribute much to the development of tech startups; other than making a lot of noise about their successes.
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