Ethiopia’s bid to become an African startup hub hinges on connectivity

Ethiopia is flexing its ambitions to become Africa’s next startup hub.

The country of 105 million with the continent’s seventh largest economy is revamping government policies, firing up angel networks and rallying digital entrepreneurs.

Ethiopia currently lags the continent’s tech standouts — like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa — that have become focal points for startup formation, VC and exits.

To join those ranks, the East African nation will need to improve its internet environment, largely controlled by one government-owned telecom. Last week Ethiopia’s government shut down the internet for the entire nation.

Startups, hubs, accelerators

Ethiopia has the workings of a budding tech scene. Much of it was on display recently at the county’s first Startup Ethiopia event held in Addis Ababa.

On the startup front, ride-hail ventures Ride and ZayRide have begun to gain traction (Uber has not yet entered Ethiopia). Their cars are visible buzzing throughout the capital and ZayRide will expand into Liberia in August, CEO Habtamu Tadesse confirmed to TechCrunch.

While in Addis, I downloaded and used Ride — founded by female entrepreneur Samrawit Fikru — which quickly flashed connections to nearby drivers on my phone and allowed for cash payment.

This month’s Startup Ethiopia also showcased

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