Headed by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, MXit is one of the nine South African companies that are in the business magazine’s top 20 African start-ups for this month. MXit allows users to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users, and in general chat rooms. It also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms like MSN Messenger, ICQ and Google Talk. MXit does not charge for one-on-one messages though mobile operators may charge for data usage. There are also a number of pay-services, including chatrooms.
In East Africa, Kenya was prominently featured in the list, with four of its companies featured in the list. From West Africa, Nigeria had two companies also in the list. Others included companies from Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon and even the UK.
The criteria used was that the companies had to have been in operation for less than 10 years; provide solutions to some of the continent’s socio-economic and communication problems; have a robust social media presence; and be Pan-African in scope and service offering, an article in the magazine said.
However, according to Forbes Magazine’s Africa Head of Research Atusaye Mughogho, compiling the list of this nature was a challenge owing to the difficulty of accessing information on the continent. “Nigeria and SA are the economic giants. Outside of Kenya, we haven't seen governments really embracing and trying to drive this sector forward,” he added.
The list also highlights challenges facing African start-ups that included lack of funding, long waiting periods to set up a business in many African countries, and governments' lack of support for the tech industry on the continent.