In 2020, the African technology start-up sector had a record-breaking year of funding. 397 startups raised over US $700m in capital, a growth of 42.7% in total funding. These numbers represent impressive growth from 2019, even with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt have maintained their status as the “Big Four” of African startup culture, with 77% of funded startups originating from one of these countries. However, while these countries are market leaders, startups have been backed in 24 different African countries.
One area of rapid growth is eHealth- which refers to the use of the internet and communication technology to improve healthcare.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in the e-health space in Africa, attracting more funding and interest in developing these companies further. Furthermore, eHealth start-ups often aim to address a specific issue affecting a region or country. They use local knowledge to create a more targeted and effective solution, rather than relying on conventional healthcare infrastructures and methods.
There is a huge wealth of opportunities to use eHealth and healthtech to solve real and pressing challenges. This can be seen in the selection of the top eHealth startups from across the continent discussed below:
WellaHealth provide healthcare services that are both affordable and accessible to Nigerians. The company initially focused on pharmacy automation, they have since switched to offering healthcare coverage particularly for malaria to protect families from financial shock that may occur from an unexpected healthcare emergency.
Vezeeta is a ‘digital healthcare concierge’, originally launched in Cairo as ‘Uber for Ambulances’ they are now a multi-functional platform offering a medical search platform for patients to find doctors by location, speciality, fees and availability.
Yapili first began in Rwanda but now delivers health advice in 8 African countries by using technology to increase access to quality healthcare through connecting patients to doctors from multiple countries.Their technology allows users to store medical histories online and creates a global health data bank.
MedSaf is an online medication marketplace that seeks to combat the issue of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria. The app solves the issues of a disjointed supply chain by directly communicating with hospitals, pharmacies and manufacturers to create a simple and effective medication procurement system (i.e the way medication is obtained).
TenaCare is one of the foremost eHealth startups working on the issue of medical health record digitisation by creating an analytics dashboard and electronic patient information record system that is being used across Ethiopia. The collection of TenaCare apps were created in conjunction with Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative, and the system is currently being used in 3,000 facilities across 10 regions in Ethiopia, and processes more than 150 million healthcare records.
Ilara Health works towards making AI/tech powered diagnostic devices more affordable and accessible through financing plans reducing upfront costs, speeding up test access and integrating the devices via tech platform. Originally begun in Nairobi they have received several million in funding and grants to help expand across Kenya and East Africa.
From the promising investment figures discussed earlier and these examples that are just a few of the eHealth products and companies being developed across the continent, it is clear to see pan-African start-up culture is booming and is set to be a source of great innovation in this sector.