Language Diversity Across 11 Key Markets in Africa
There are 52 markets in Africa, but just 11 of them contribute 70% of the Continent's GDP and house 50% of the 1.4 billion people that call Africa home. So what does that mean? It means that if you're investing in consumer tech startups in Africa, they are likely to come from one of these 11 markets, and are looking to expand across the other 10 to have strong Pan-Africa coverage and pave their way to unicorn-dom. The truth is, many countries like Nigeria and Egypt have large enough consumer populations to build unicorns just by serving within its own borders. That was certainly the case for fintech player Fawry, Egypt's first unicorn; and the vast majority of the continent's unicorns hail from Nigeria.
Nigeria has the continent's largest population, sitting at 213 million in 2021, and the largest GDP contributing over 16% to the continent's economy. Meanwhile, Egypt is home to over 109 million inhabitants, and contributes 15% to Africa's economy.
The challenge in scaling start-ups to become pan-African though is unique to the continent. It's the combination of generally low literacy rates, which significantly reduce the total addressable markets in each country - and the breadth of languages used in each country. There are over 2,000 languages spoken across the continent, and Nigeria alone is home to 500 distinct languages. If Nigerian tech players decided to just build their solutions in English, it would halve their total addressable market immediately.