Africa’s Talking is democratising access to telecommunication services for developers in Africa

by | Sep 26, 2019

On a mission to democratise access to telecommunications services in Africa, Africa’s Talking (AT) provides application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers can plug into to build products around any of the services that telecom companies offer.

AT is doing the hard work of building easy-to-use APIs, getting the appropriate regulatory approval, and integrating the APIs with telecom operators in countries where it operates.

“Basically, making things easier for developers to build their solutions with easy-to-use APIs,” Africa’s Talking CEO, Bilha Ndirangu, clarifies.

Africas Talking Kenya 12

Bilha Ndirangu

This is with the belief that opening APIs for services that were very difficult to access will serve as a huge support for the developer ecosystem.


From a team of about five in 2012, the company has grown to have 130 employees with a presence in 18 countries across Africa and plans to expand to more markets.

A testament to the company’s vision of being developer-centric is the large share of developers on the team; 50% are developers actively working, while 20% are developers not doing any development work.

“We are keen on being a developer-first company,” Bilha affirms.

Supporting the African developer ecosystem

Apparently, AT takes its time retraining developers joining its team. New developer recruits don’t work on any projects until after about one to three months. Many of these talents are recruited from local universities and meetups, as well as through referrals.

On whether the company will train people with no prior programming experience, Bilha says that is not a priority at the moment, as it is resource-intensive.

“The conversation right now is to partner organisations that are already doing that,” she points out.

Beyond providing APIs and training, AT also provides free workspace for developers and entrepreneurs who are building their solutions on its platform. This, according to communications associate at AT, Rachael Wambua, is to enable them to go to the market quicker.

Africas Talking Kenya 3

(right) Rachael

“If you are a software developer and you are building a solution on our platform, you have the potential to go across the entire African market,” Bilha says.


One of such entrepreneurs is Edwin Muigai who runs Mteja — a platform that used AT’s API to build a plug-and-play customer engagement solution for African businesses. Edwin works out of AT’s Nairobi office and currently serves clients from five other African countries — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire — without maintaining a presence in any of them.

Interestingly, Edwin used to be a software engineer at AT.

Africas Talking Kenya 6

Edwin Muigai

Some of the faces at Africa’s Talking

Africas Talking Kenya 1

Opportunities for other African markets

With operations in 18 countries at the moment, Bilha claims the demand from other African countries fuelled the company’s expansion move which started with Uganda. In spite of this expansion, Kenya remains the company’s biggest market which is understandable considering the company started in the East African country.

In spite of a presence in many African markets, AT’s CEO affirms that the pace at which things happen in different markets is a challenge.

“Every market on the continent has its own peculiarity.”

For AT, building a business is hard in any market, especially when it feels like the company is starting afresh in each new market — talks with regulatory authorities can take between a few months to a couple of years.

“From a business perspective, time is a challenge. Any extra day that it takes for you to set up in a market is time and resources you are spending but cannot fully commercialise or monetise at that moment.”

At the present time, Cote d’Ivoire is its only francophone market but it has plans to expand to other French-speaking countries. The end game, according to Bilha, is to maintain a presence in all African countries and provide the developers’ community with a platform that will empower them to build products that can reach the entire continent.

AT hopes to double its current market in the next couple of years.

“We have done a lot, moving the needle in terms of the developer ecosystem on the continent and we’d like to do a lot more,” Bilha says while commenting on what the company has done in the past couple of years.

Yinka Awosanya
Yinka Awosanya

Mobile & African Tech Enthusiast │ Data Analyst │ Music

On January 22, 2022, be part of the largest gathering of innovators, startup founders, thinkers, programmers, policymakers, and investors in West Africa. Register free.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Recent News

Subscribe to Techpoint Digest!

A daily 5-minute roundup of happenings in African and global tech, sent directly to your email inbox, between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m (WAT) every week day!

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to Crypto Explorer

A monthly series featuring in-depth analysis on the cryptocurrency sector in Africa

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to The Experts

A bi-weekly where tech career specialists take us on their journey from newbie to expert, and how they became successful in the industry.

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to Founder's Table

A monthly series, where we catch up with founders in the startup ecosystem, learn about their failures, successes and a few tricks of the trade

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap