South Africa’s ‘silicon valley’ has over 450 tech firms and employs more than 40,000 people

 ·10 May 2021

Cape Town has been ranked one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for foreign direct investment, according to a report from fDi Intelligence, a data division of the Financial Times group.

The ranking also awarded South Africa first place in Africa for economic potential, start-up status and business friendliness.

In addition to receiving the largest number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the software and IT services sector, South Africa also recorded the second-highest number of start-ups, after Nigeria.

Cape Town was awarded second place after Cairo for FDI strategy after displaying impressive initiative in creating the necessary infrastructure for a thriving tech ecosystem.

“Extending beyond Cape Town, the Western Cape boasts a robust tech ecosystem,” said Wesgro, the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency.

“The Cape Town – Stellenbosch corridor contains 450 tech firms employing more than 40,000 people, making the ecosystem bigger than Nairobi and Lagos combined.”

Other key aspects that make Cape Town the ‘tech capital of Africa’ include:

  • Tech start-ups: At the end of 2020, there were 550 tech companies and over 40,000 people employed in the tech sector, in Cape Town.
  • Investments: In 2020, a total of $88 million (R1.2 billion) disclosed investments were injected into tech start-ups in Cape Town across 46 deals, the highest investments made in South Africa.
  • Venture capital firms: the Western Cape has the highest number of venture capital firms, which makes it easy for startups to access funding.
  • Co-working spaces: The Western Cape has over 30 co-working spaces, the highest in Africa and 715 free WiFi spots in Cape Town alone.
  • Developer talent: Cape Town hosts 38% of the total developers in South Africa, the highest concentration of developers in the country.
  • Coffee culture: Cape Town boasts a deep and diverse coffee culture across 100s of stylish outlets.
  • EdTech Hub of Africa: Cape Town has a high density of digital skills training academies and is the location of choice for EdTech businesses that are building content for entities and educational institutions across the globe.
  • Home to four world-class universities: The University of Cape Town retained its spot as Africa’s top university, with Stellenbosch University ranked the 3rd best University in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. Students from across the globe come to study in Cape Town, with many being attracted into the growing tech ecosystem.
  • Ease of doing business: According to the latest World Bank research report on Doing Business in South Africa, Cape Town ranked the top metropolitan municipality in the country when it comes to the ease of doing business.

Cape Town also boasts a number of successful start-ups that showcase the diversity of business emerging in the sector, including Aerobotics, a drone-enabled data analytics company assisting farmers to gain deeper insights on their yields and land usage, and Jumo, a business that helps facilitate digital financial services such as credit and savings in emerging markets.

Others are Yoco, a point-of-sale payment provider for small businesses, and Sweepsouth, a business that is formalising employment in the informal sector, and many others.

“The fDi Intelligence report ranking is a confidence boost for the digital and technology sector and proof that the efforts being made by the Western Cape Government, along with our partners at the City of Cape Town and Wesgro, are achieving the desired result,” said Western Cape minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.

“Attracting foreign direct investment to support job creation is key to our economic recovery in the Western Cape.”

Read: South Africa to introduce new e-visas this year

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