There were four major themes across the African tech ecosystem in 2023:

  • an uptick in layoffs & company shutdowns,
  • an increase in M&A deals,
  • a spotlight on fraud & bad founder behavior,
  • and continued investor optimism despite the downturn.

Here’s a look back at the top stories of the year that embody those themes:


  • January: Tunisian enterprise AI startup InstaDeep was acquired for ~$685M by BioNTech SE. The deal, which includes performance-based earnouts of up to ~$244M, is the largest acquisition of a startup in Africa to date.
  • February: Egyptian credit-led ‘super app’ MNT-Halan became Africa’s newest unicorn.
  • March: Nigerian credit-led neobank FairMoney acquired last-mile financial services distribution network PayForce for an estimated $15-20M in cash & stock.

  • April: Pan-African identity verification & digital KYC platform Smile ID (formerly Smile Identity) acquired its Ghanaian counterpart Appruve. The purchase price was supposedly “not more than $20M” according to press reports at the time — mostly in Smile ID shares. We’ve since heard that that figure was a bit of an exaggeration.

  • May: Kenyan pay-as-you-go asset financing platform M-KOPA raised $257M ($55M in equity & $202M in debt) in what was one of the largest financing rounds of the year.

  • June: Short-selling research firm Hindenburg Research published a report alleging that Nigerian ‘agrifintech’ Tingo is “an exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials.” (Notably, Tingo was just charged with being a “massive” and “staggering” fraud by the US SEC.)

  • July: Kenyan e-commerce platform Copia Global laid off ~25% of its 1,800-strong workforce in Kenya, citing the “economic downturn” and “operating profitability” as key drivers. It was the third round of layoffs from Copia this year and it was widely seen as a sign of the times as Chipper Cash, Alerzo, and several other companies held multiple rounds of layoffs this year.
  • August: After ~9 years of operations, over $20M in funding raised, and a peak valuation of over $80M, Kenyan logistics platform Sendy shut down because it ran out of cash. The company had a monthly burn rate of $1 million at the height of its operations, according to media reports.

  • September: The news broke that Nigerian genomics startup 54gene shut down in a closure mired in controversy, legal issues, and whispered allegations. The company raised over $45M and enjoyed a rumored peak valuation of over $200M.

  • October: The news broke that Ghanaian fintech Dash shut down due to financial misappropriation & fraud after raising $86M.

  • November: Norrsken22, an Africa-focused VC firm from one of the founders of Swedish fintech unicorn Klarna, announced the $205M final close of its debut Norrsken22 African Tech Growth Fund.

  • December: Kenyan B2B e-commerce platform Wasoko and Egyptian B2B e-commerce platform MaxAB signed preliminary terms of a merger agreement. The parties expect the deal to be finalized sometime in Q1 2024.

Other big stories of 2023 include:

  • Partech Africa announced the first close of its second fund at ~$263M (February)
  • Founders Factory Africa announced raising $114M (August)
  • Moove announced that it’s now valued at $550M (August)
  • Moniepoint’s ongoing acquisition of Kopo Kopo became public (August)
  • Nigerian wealthtech Rise acquired Chaka (September)
  • Nigerian crypto exchange & blockchain-based payments platform Bitmama acquired beleaguered digital banking platform Payday for a rumored $1M in equity (December)
  • Jumia exited the food delivery business, shutting down Jumia Food in the remaining seven African countries where it still operated (December)

By Emeka Ajene

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Emeka is the Founder & Publisher of Afridigest and leads Africreate, a strategic advisory firm that helps global senior executives, corporates, and investors take advantage of opportunities in African markets. He also connects global capital to promising Africa Tech investment opportunities via investment firm Africapital. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.