Tech leaders weigh in on Jack Dorsey’s planned move to Africa

It’s not every day that the CEO of a large Silicon Valley tech company decides to relocate to a different part of the world in order to learn more about it, particularly a frequently maligned and often overlooked by big-business part.
In November 2019, Dorsey’s itchy feet took him to Africa, where he visited Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and Ethiopia on a listening tour. He had meetings at incubators in Lagos and Addis Ababa; and talked to a number of African tech-leaders, including Tayo Oviosu, the CEO of Nigerian payments startup Paga; and Yeli Bademoi, the director of Binance Labs.
And before he departed back for the US, he did something more: he announced that he would return in 2020 to live somewhere on the continent for up to six months.
“Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid-2020,”  according to a tweet from him in Ethiopia.
The African continent is one of the fastest-growing technology markets in the world, even if today, by monetary value, it’s tiny by Shenzhen or Silicon Valley standards.

Three of the top destination countries for startup investment, KenyaNigeria, and South Africa, collectively surpassed $1 billion in investment for the first time in 2018, with fin-tech businesses currently receiving the bulk of the capital and deal flow, according to Partech and WeeTracker stats.
Over recent years, Nigeria has become Africa’s leader in startup formation, VC, and the entry of big tech players, such as Facebook which opened an incubator in Lagos in 2018.
Since 2014, the country of 200 million has held the dual distinction as Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy. This makes it a compelling market for fin-tech and social media apps.
Twitter in Africa, according to sources, was less of a topic during Jack Dorsey's meetings with founders and techies. This makes some sense. The service has lower penetration in the region estimated at 7.46%, higher than Instagram but lower than Pinterest, and that essentially means that the business opportunities there are fewer since the majority of Twitter’s revenues come from advertising.
“The only concrete thing in all this communication…is he seems to be interested in Bitcoin,” said Tijani.
For all the likelihood Dorsey’s pending move could be motivated by Square and Bitcoin, three of the founders interviewed by TechCrunch, Bosun Tijani, Ken Njoroge, and Markos Lemma, underscored the rise of Twitter in Africa’s civic and political spheres.
Square doesn’t operate in Africa but Twitter is the fourth most used social media app on the continent and sells ads in Africa through a partner, Ad Dynamo, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed.
So Dorsey’s 2020 Africa move could certainly uncover opportunities for cryptocurrency and Square on the continent.
It could also become a reminder that wherever he travels so too do the complications of his social media company back home.

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