African E-Health Startups Have Attracted Over $19M In Investments

E-health startups - Discovery Health's DrConnect is a new telemedicine products available in South Africa. Photo - YouTubeE-health startups continue to find Africa a fertile region for growth and investment. Photo – YouTube

E-health startups across the African continent have shown impressive growth in recent years, allowing them to raise over $19 million in investments.

While the e-health startups present on the continent continue to gain traction, the industry as a whole is experiencing strong growth, and between the 115 medical-related startups operating in 20 countries, over $19 million worth of investment has been attracted, according to a new DisruptAfrica report.

Research shows that many of the e-health innovators are based in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, but there is also a trend that is seeing startups in the sector emerging from countries such as Uganda, Ghana, Egypt and Senegal, the DisruptAfrica press release reveals.

The e-health startup ecosystem is constantly evolving in response to the need for quality healthcare in Africa that is digitally inspired and accessible to those who need it most.

From mobile apps to diagnostic tests and startups dedicated to medical advances, Africans are transforming healthcare through technology, leading to improvements in the accessibility and quality of care in numerous African countries and beyond.

Africa is becoming a hub for e-health, with telecom and other startups in South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana looking at ways to support and benefit from the health sector, according to a 2016 report by Research and Markets.

In the long run, the report suggests that e-health will “minimize investment towards hospital bed-strength as more patients receive care within, or close to, their homes without hospital admission.”

While many analysts would expect mobile to play a crucial role in delivering these e-health startups to the masses, DisruptAfrica discovered that only 44 percent of the 115 e-health initiatives were mobile-based, according to their press release.

E-health startups gain interest and investment

But whether they are mobile-based or otherwise, the startups are creating solutions to local and international healthcare issues through technology, and this is something that incubators, startup competitions and investors are clearly beginning to recognize.

The Innovate for Life Fund is an incubator that is focused specifically on supporting and investing in African e-health companies that show potential.

The fund, which is a Amref Health Africa initiative that is supported by the  Grassroots Business Fund, The Elsevier Foundation and Venture Capital for Africa, selected six startups that will take part in its three-month accelerator program, according to VC4A.

Earlier this month Nigerian e-health startup Mobicure was awarded an Expo Live grant from organisers of the next World Expo.

The app that assists expectant mothers and parents of children under the age of five to monitor the health of their children received a $100,000 grant, according to ITNewsAfrica.

Seedstars supporting e-health startups

Even Seedstars, a global early-stage startups competition for emerging markets which offers winners in the final event up to $1 million in equity investments and prizes, has taken note of the caliber of startups emerging in the sector, with a number of local country events throughout Africa dominated by e-health startups.

The Seedstars Douala competition in Cameroon saw an e-health winner in September, as startup GiftedMom emerged victorious, according to Ventureburn.

The medical support platform develops last-mile mobile health solutions geared at increasing maternal engagement in emerging markets through an artificial intelligence-based remote medical platform.

A similar outcome was seen in the Nigerian and South African legs of the Seedstars World competition.

Eventual Seedstars Lagos winner Medsaf is an e-health startup focused on making the process of buying and selling medication in Nigeria’s complex health system easier and more efficient, reports Techmoran.

Medsaf also provides value added services to hospitals and pharmacies such as medications, inventory management applications, and tech-enabled logistics.

In South Africa, medical tech startup EMGuidance won the South African leg of the Seedstars World competition at the end of June, according to ITWeb.

EMGuidance provides a mobile app, which was launched last year, allowing doctors and medical professionals to source treatment protocols for chronic conditions and information on medication that differs from region to region.

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