With a stable political climate for many years now, Benin is a democratic African nation poised to become a regional leader in tech startup innovation. In fact, the country’s new generation of creative entrepreneurs are making waves across the globe with their digital products and services.
Here are 7 reasons why Benin might be the next Silicon Valley in the future—from the quality of local talent to a low cost of living, these factors are sure to position the country as a supportive cradle for tech innovation in the coming months and years.
1. A growing number of certified IT professionals.
Benin is known to be an African nation with a large number of highly-skilled IT professionals, and this reputation grows stronger every year as hundreds of STEM students graduate from universities across the country. And despite low employment rates, a high number of employable IT professionals continues to be a critical resource for Benin-based startups looking to recruit local talent.
2. Unique opportunities for tech startups.
Benin has for years fostered an environment conducive for creating startups. With funding resources increasingly available and a low administrative overhead of doing business, the country’s business climate is ripe for innovation and entrepreneurship. Organizations such as TEKXL—Benin’s first start-up accelerator—host a number of local tech startup and technology events throughout the year.
3. A low cost of living.
Benin’s cost of living is one of the lowest in Africa, making it ideal for bootstrapping a fledgling tech startup. With some of the lowest real estate and rental prices on the continent, the country is an affordable locale to set up shop. Additionally, the cost of monthly internet service is low compared to other countries in the region.
4. The emergence of a strong tech startup ecosystem.
Benin’s tech startup ecosystem has begun to flourish in the last couple years—with the emergence of co-working spaces like EtriLabs and accelerators like TEKXL, young entrepreneurs have more startup resources than ever at their disposal.
5. A growing e-commerce and online retail market.
Despite recent technological advances, the country still holds many opportunities when it comes to digital transformation—for example, approximately 80% of the population is still without a smartphone. A growing digital consumer base means a rising local demand for products and services already commonplace in other more mature/saturated markets.
6. A culture of innovation and rapidly expanding IT industry.
Benin has taken groundbreaking steps towards its digital future—in December 2016, it announced an economic transformation plan that includes 45 flagship economic projects, six of which are focused on constructing a digital economy. The government is also creating a smart city called the International Knowledge and Innovation City, bringing together IT firms, startups, as well as schools and national/international universities.
7. A country open to the world.
Benin boasts a multicultural population and is known for its welcoming environment to all nationalities and ethnicities. And as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, the country has seen an influx of foreign tech investors and IT firms over the past couple years.
Benin may not currently be known as a global tech hub, but it may soon one day be a regional leader when it comes to digital innovation. And with strong government initiatives to support this goal, this may become a reality sooner rather than later—be sure to keep this country on your radar in the coming months and years.