Noel K. Tshiani is the managing director of Congo Business Summit, a flagship conference and expo that brings together startups, corporations, and government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo and abroad. With a deep commitment to innovation, he is passionate about building and advancing the country’s startup and tech ecosystems, recognising the transformative impact they can have on the economy.
The beauty of the African continent lies not only in its diversity, but also in its untapped potential. Every nation and every city has something unique to offer. However, there are certain opportunities that are too big to miss, and one such opportunity awaits in the heart of Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As we look forward to the upcoming Congo Business Summit in Kinshasa from October 12–13, 2023, a clarion call goes out to Nigerian investors: now is the time to broaden your horizons and tap into the latent potential of the DRC’s rising tech startup scene.
Let us examine some statistics. The DRC has a population of 100 million, almost equal to the combined populations of Cameroon (30 million), Côte d’Ivoire (30 million), Niger (24 million), Senegal (18 million), and Congo-Brazzaville (6 million). The capital alone, Kinshasa, is home to 20 million people, more than live in Senegal. Kinshasa is not just a city; it is a bustling metropolis with the population of an entire nation. The DRC’s strategic location, bordering nine countries, offers an additional potential consumer base of some 250 million people. Clearly, this is an opportunity too significant for any ambitious business angel or institutional investor to neglect.
In addition to the size of the market, there are a number of other reasons why Nigerian investors should be interested in the DRC. The country has a young population, with 60% of its citizens under the age of 25. This means there is a large pool of potential customers for tech products and services, ranging from financial services to education. The DRC is also a resource-rich country, with abundant reserves of copper, cobalt, diamonds, and other minerals used to make mobile phones, laptops, and batteries for electric vehicles. These minerals are estimated to be worth $24 trillion. This means there is a strong foundation for economic growth, which will create even more opportunities for tech startups.
Now imagine the kind of market such numbers represent, especially in the tech sector. With rapid urbanisation, increasing internet penetration, and a youthful population hungry for tech solutions, the DRC presents an ideal landscape for investments in tech startups. Kinshasa’s tech scene is a melting pot of innovation, with young Congolese entrepreneurs eager to solve local challenges with regional aspirations. These startups need the kind of expertise and financial backing that Nigerian investors, who have seen the boom in places like Lagos, can provide.
Consider the successes of other francophone cities such as Dakar or Abidjan. While they have seen substantial tech growth, the sheer size of the DRC’s market offers unparalleled scale. When a startup succeeds in the DRC, it is not just serving a city or region, but an entire nation, a market larger than many well-known European countries such as the Netherlands (18 million), Belgium (12 million), Sweden (10 million), Switzerland (10 million), and Portugal (10 million).
Nigerian investors have a track record of identifying lucrative ventures, with Nigeria’s own fintech tech startups attracting attention and investment on the global stage. The DRC, with its size and potential, can be the next big gold mine. Congo Business Summit is not just another event. It is the gateway to Africa’s next unicorn for investors who are ready to explore promising tech startups in Kinshasa.
Investing in tech startups in the DRC is investing in the future of a prosperous Africa. While many regions in francophone Africa provide only modest investment prospects, the DRC presents Nigerian investors with a vast horizon to carve out their mark. That is why Congo Business Summit is a real opportunity for Nigerian investors to learn about the DRC and the investment opportunities that exist in sectors such as fintech, edtech, medtech, agritech, and regtech. The DRC is a market with huge potential, and Nigerian investors who get in early will reap big rewards.
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