Driving the growth of African civic tech innovation

Agbaje Ayomide
2 min readJun 8, 2023

Civic tech is a fast-growing sector around the world, witnessing a wave of innovative ideas, garnering interest from corporations, government agencies, and investment firms. However, the civic tech space in Africa is far from reaching its potential of helping to strengthen government capacity and improve civic engagement. According to a database by Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN), civic tech projects have grown at a slow pace.

Unlike healthtech, fintech, and other tech sectors, civic tech is mainly focused on developing citizen-driven solutions. As such, investment in civic tech startups pales in comparison to other money-spinning sectors. As most of them are not commercially driven, the sector is also not booming with venture capital funding in Africa. With only a few accelerators taking a chance on offers to invest in civic tech startups, there are no large returns to be generated and offered to investors. This has affected the overall growth of civic tech in Africa, as entrepreneurs struggle to bootstrap and run the startups on a lean budget in the early stages.

According to Seedstars, civic tech is the “next big thing in Africa” due to the growth in internet usage and social media across Africa over the years. Within the past few years, early-stage civic tech organizations have struggled to raise funds. Presently, they are mostly reliant on grant funding and donations from development agencies and philanthropies. Civic tech companies require institutional support to scale and maximize the impact of their innovative solutions. For instance, the launch of Civic Tech Fund Africa by the African Union boosted the growth of selected civic tech startups in Africa and was a shining light. But similar efforts need to be introduced to expand support for other emerging civic techs on the continent.

Startups in the civic tech space can partner with civil society organizations with donor funding to scale their innovative ideas and solutions, according to Abiola Durodola, co-founder of AdvoKC, a youth-led civic tech platform tracking governance performance, and accountability. “It’s important to find common grounds between civic tech startups and CSOs to work together to incubate and implement civic tech ideas to ensure smooth citizen participation in Africa,” he said.

There are emerging opportunities for the African civic tech sector to explore alternate funding and revenue streams to reduce their operational struggles. This underscores the need to productize civic tech initiatives and tailor them to local contexts on the continent. There is no better time to look beyond the incentives created by grant funding for civic tech in Africa to unlock and drive commercialization