African tech startup funding reaches new record

Plus: Egypt’s MNT-Halan is Africa’s newest unicorn
African tech startup funding reaches new record

Dear Quartz Africa readers,

Disrupt Africa released its annual African Tech Startups Funding report showing that for the first time ever tech funding on the continent has passed the $3 billion mark. While this might not be as big a leap as in 2021, when the sector passed both the $1 billion and $2 billion mark, it’s a sign of continuous investors’ confidence in the sector’s opportunities.

The report cautions that measuring this kind of funding is not an exact science, as the definition of “African startup” itself remains controversial. “In the clearest scenario, an African startup would be headquartered in Africa, founded by an African, and have Africa as its primary market. This, however, is rarely the case,” the document states.

But tracking this one particular source of startup funding data over time shows the impressive growth of the African startup sector. When Disrupt Africa put out their first edition of the report in 2015, 125 tech startups had raised $187 million that year. Less than a decade later, the number of startups has grown by 406% and funding raised has increased by close to 1,700%.

Fintech continues to dominate funding. It accounts for 43.4% of the total raised by the continent’s startups as well as counting for some of the largest deals, but there was also growth across all sectors including in other leading sectors such as e-commerce, e-health, logistics, edtech, energy, agri-tech, and transport. The “big four” markets of Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa still dominate startup funding—accounting for 76% of funding this year, down from 80% last year—but other startup hubs are also starting to bloom with a record-breaking year of funding for both Ghana and Tunisia.

African startup funding overall makes up just a tiny fraction of global startup funding, but Disrupt Africa’s figures show that, despite a global downturn in investments, Africa has held its own.

—Ciku Kimeria, Africa editor

Stories this week

Nigeria and South Africa shone at the Grammys. Nigerian artist Tems earned her first Grammy award for her contribution to Future’s hit single Wait For U, while Jerusalema singer Nomcebo Zikode won an award together with Zakes Bantwini and Wouter Kellerman for their song Bayethe, Bonface Orucho reports.

An online platform is helping drought-stricken Somalis. Faustine Ngila speaks to founder and CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yusuf about how Mogadishu-based Hormuud Telecom is helping donors reach millions of people facing hunger and starvation.

An Egyptian fintech reached a billion-dollar valuation. MNT-Halan raked in $400 million in a hybrid equity-debt financing round, becoming Africa’s first unicorn since November 2021. Seth Onyango explores the six-year-old startup’s progress.

Senegal’s soccer success is boosting its global image. Fresh off a recent victory at the African Nations Champions, Senegal’s Teranga Lions are now the holders of Africa’s two most prestigious soccer titles, after winning Africa Cup of Nations last year. Meron Demisse writes about the larger implications for Brand Senegal.


Sendmark, a Johannesburg-based software startup tackling email impersonation issues raised $7 million in Series A funding. The funding round was led by Atlantica Ventures, with participation from Allan Gray, E-Squared Ventures, Fireball Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, 4Di Capital, Endeavor Harvest, Alpha Private Capital, and Kalon Venture Partners.

Egyptian healthtech startup, Yodawy, which provides an online pharmaceutical platform for patients and pharmacies, raised $16 million in a series B round. The funding round was co-led by Global Ventures and Delivery Hero Ventures with participation from AAIC Investment, Dallah Al-Baraka, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), C Ventures, and P1 Ventures.

Quartz gems

The Turkey-Syria earthquake, by the digits

It will be a while before the total destruction of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria comes into focus, but its impact has already been devastating.

Soon after the quake hit on Monday (Feb. 6), the United States Geological Survey estimated that there was a 47% chance that the final number of fatalities in central Turkey and northwestern Syria will land between 1,000 and 10,000. By Thursday (Feb. 9), more than 20,000 people had been reported dead.

Here are some other ways to contextualize the catastrophe.

17,500: Death toll during the last major 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey in 1999

2000 years: Age of the Gaziantep Castle, used by Romans and Byzantines, destroyed by the quakes

30%: Chance that the loss to the Turkish economy is between $10 billion and $100 billion, per the USGS

18.85: Value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, a new low

Other things we are reading

Zimbabwe is losing teachers and doctors to the UK. Al Jazeera’s Ashley Simango reports that more than 4,000 nurses and doctors departed Zimbabwe since February 2021, with the UK being the top destination as the former colonial power faces a dire doctor and teacher shortage.

Mali cozied up to Russia. Mali’s foreign minister’s proclamation that “Russia is here on demand by Mali” clears any doubt over rumors that Moscow is now Bamako’s preferred partner. BBC’s Beverly Ochieng explores what Russia is doing in the Sahel.

China risks causing a shortage of African donkeys. A spike in demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese remedy made from collagen from donkey hides, is fueling an illicit trade that poses a threat to Africa, The Conversation’s Lauren Johnston writes.

Tems reflects on her night at the Grammys. From meeting her personal idol Mary J. Blige, to why she wore a Vivienne Westwood design, Tems’s interview with Vogue’s Andre-Naquian Wheeler offers a glimpse into the life of the award winner.


Get a fully-funded scholarship for your masters. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is offering one student the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree in development policy and politics at the University of Birmingham. Apply now. (Mar. 31)

Get recognition as a young African leader. The Kofi Annan Foundation’s Women & Youth in Democracy (#WYDE) Program 2023 for young African leaders is now open for nominations. (Mar. 10)

🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Zelewe” by Pedro Karim (Comoros)

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Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, ideas, Grammy hits, and unicorns to You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.

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