Today, Partech Africa publishes its annual report on VC Funding for African Startups. In 2021, amid global VC growth, Africa tech still grew faster than any other region with 2x the activity of last year and more than 3x the amount invested, reaching $5.2B.
A year of historic growth
681 rounds of equity fundraising brought in a total of $5.2B. When we include debt, this total reaches $6B in 724 rounds. The 2021 new record indicates a super-active ecosystem, where almost 3 deals are closed every weekday.
The number of deals almost doubled, increasing by 92% YoY. This rate of growth makes Africa tech one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in the world. In 2021, it accelerated significantly, far surpassing the last 6 years of growth with a CAGR of 45%.
2021 witnessed 14 Megadeals (above $100M, equity only) coming from 12 companies. 48% of total equity funding went to these Megadeals, i.e. $2,47B. Before 2021, only 8 Megadeals had been recorded in the entire history of the African funding ecosystem. 2021 was the year $100M+ funding rounds became normal with almost twice the number of Megadeals made in a single year as in the whole of the ecosystem’s history.
The average round size increased across all stages, picking up again strongly after 2020’s downtrend. While Seed, Series A and B round sizes grew strongly, Growth deals saw an exceptional inflation of average round size at +426% YoY, due to the surge in Megadeals at this stage.
As a result, average round sizes across all stages bounced back to above their pre-covid levels, with strong recovery and continued growth across all VC market segments in Africa.
37 African tech start-ups raised a total of $767M in 43 debt rounds. As start-ups grow and achieve more predictability, debt financing becomes a useful instrument which helps accelerate growth, while limiting dilution from equity rounds. 2021 set real trends in this space, with strategic debt players launching dedicated debt funds targeted to emerging markets – Africa in particular. Nigerian start-ups raised almost half of the total amount of debt ($345M), taking 45% of the total debt raised.
Country breakdown: Nigeria is the undisputed leader in the Africa tech VC ecosystem, pulling ahead on both funding amount and number of equity rounds. While Nigeria is in a league of its own with $1.8B, 34% of all African equity funding, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya also attracted more than half a billion each. Senegal completes the top 5 as francophone Africa accelerates 2.6x faster than the continent, at 695% YoY growth in amount invested.
Sector breakdown: Driven by Megadeals, Fintech accounted for only 32% of deals, but a large majority (63%) of funding. Digitization of foundational sectors of the economy (Commerce, Education, Energy, Health, Logistics) meant each of these sectors broke into the $200M range.
Founder gender breakdown: Female-founded start-ups raised 20% of all rounds in 2021, up 7 percentage points from 13% in 2020. They took $834M or 16% of the total equity funding, up 2 percentage points from 14% in 2020.
Investor breakdown: Africa’s tech ecosystem attracted 2x more investors in 2021 (+101% YoY) with 891 active investors. They showed more commitment to the market, with 268 involved in 2 or more deals (+144% YoY) and 65 involved in 5 or more (+195% YoY).
The sixth Partech Africa annual report on African tech start-ups is based on the same methodology as the previous years: it covers equity deals in tech and digital spaces, and funding rounds higher than US$200K.
Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Partech Africa is the largest VC fund dedicated to technology startups in Africa. Partech Africa focuses on series A and B equity rounds in startups which are changing the way technology is used in education, mobility, finance, healthcare, delivery, energy, etc.
Born in San Francisco and Paris, Partech is one of the most active tech investors in the world, bringing together capital, operational experience, and strategic support for entrepreneurs at seed, venture and growth stages. The current portfolio includes 200+ companies in more than 30 countries, of which 14 are valued at more than $1B.