Skip to main content

Cape Town is racing to claim the title of Africa's Silicon Valley

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Cape Town is known as 'Slaapstaad' by the rest of  South Africa but when it comes to technology, there is nothing sleepy about this city.  

Cape Town has been pinpointed as the location for Africa's biggest tech hub and the City is gearing up to take ownership of this title. 

The number of major international and local players from the tech world which either began or founded their feet in Cape Town are significant. 

An Amazon Development Center has planted itself in Gardens. Naspers, one of the largest tech investors in the world, has its HQ situated in the City Centre. Essentially, Cape Town is teeming with tech potential.

Takealot is one of the most prominent e-commerce players in South Africa and was founded in 2011 in Cape Town. Since then, consumers have seen the rise of Superbalist, which has grown from strength to strength. 

Get Smarter, founded in Cape Town, is an ed-tech company that offers online short courses through the University of Cape Town. In 2017 the company was bought by 2U, a listed company in the US, for $103 million.

Fintech

Cape Town is not only just the home of online web stores and data centres. It is also the main hub for all things related to financial technology. 

South Africa's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Luno, was started in Cape Town. 

It was recently acquired for an undisclosed amount by New York-based DSG, the world's largest blockchain investor.

Since its inception in 2013, Luno has 5 million customers across 40 countries and an employee base of 400 people located in South Africa, Singapore and London. 

DCG first invested in Luno in its seed round in 2013. Naspers Group and Rand Merchant Investments also backed Luno but have since sold their shares to DCG.

Cape Town's biggest educational institution is also fostering the future leaders of the fintech industry. With dedicated Master's programmes in Fintech Disruptive Finance, it has become the institution with expertise in this field. 

Start-up City

According to Invest Cape Town, the Mother City holds almost 60% of the country's start-ups.

This is down to a number of reasons. The city offers a great lifestyle which attracts not only local tech entrepreneurs but also international talent. 

There is access to start-up capital from funds in the Mother City, making it ideal when pitching and getting your business off the ground. 

The City has also kept up with international work culture and standards. Business hubs have developed across various neighbourhoods with remote office shares like WeWork and Workshop17 making it easier for start-ups to rent space.

Cape Town also has an internet penetration of 63% and one of Africa's largest open access fibre networks. This means never having to fight with slow internet speeds, missing out on meetings with overseas clients or worrying about losing data. 

Access to funding, gaining and retaining talent are prominent issues that need addressing before the Mother City can really make a stronghold on the global tech map.