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15 African technology startups to watch in 2014

By Toby Shapshak, Editor of Stuff Magazine, South Africa
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Toby Shapshak has selected Africa's most interesting startups: "From the founders of real-time info site Ushahidi comes a brick-like device that they call 'the internet's backup generator.'<!-- -->
</br>And that it is. The sturdy plastic-shelled device has everything you'd need to survive the wilds of the unreliably African internet, like Nairobi or Johannesburg. The<a href='http://www.brck.com/' target='_blank'> BRCK</a> has a big battery, so it can keep 20 devices connected for eight hours and is robust enough to handle power failures, poor line speeds and just general grumpiness."<!-- -->
</br> Toby Shapshak has selected Africa's most interesting startups: "From the founders of real-time info site Ushahidi comes a brick-like device that they call 'the internet's backup generator.'
And that it is. The sturdy plastic-shelled device has everything you'd need to survive the wilds of the unreliably African internet, like Nairobi or Johannesburg. The BRCK has a big battery, so it can keep 20 devices connected for eight hours and is robust enough to handle power failures, poor line speeds and just general grumpiness."
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1. BRCK
2. Paperight
3. Jumia
4. DealDey
5. mPawa
6. Obami
7. SleepOut
8. 22seven
9. Kopo Kopo
10. SnapScan
11. The Able Wireless Company
13. Karibu Solar Power
12. Mxit
14. iROKOtv
Special mention: Project Isizwe
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Toby Shapshak has selected the most exciting African startups to watch this year
  • Click through the gallery to find out which ones make the list

Editor's note: Toby Shapshak is a technology journalist based in Johannesburg where he writes about tech and innovation in Africa. He spoke at TED about how Africa is solving the world's problems, in Edinburgh in 2013. He edits and publishes the South African edition of Stuff magazine and has been named by GQ as one of the top 30 men in media. Follow him on Twitter: @Shapshak

(CNN) -- Africa is not just a mobile-first continent. It is mobile-only.

As such, many of the most innovative startups address mobile for what it is: the gold of today, the new, digital equivalent of a railroad.

Read this: 'Netflix of Africa' brings Nollywood to world

Toby Shapshak
Toby Shapshak

Drawing up this list, I was struck by how readily I thought of good South African tech firms that deserved to be here -- so I shamelessly let my patriotic fervor guide me. Looking back, I still think they all deserve to be on this list.

Several of the names on this list come from the final 40 of this year's Demo Africa the African arm of this renowned launch event for tech start-ups, held in Nairobi.

Read this: Web savvy Africans fuel growth in online shopping

The most recent figures for mobile and internet usage are promising, and show room for growth. "Only 16 percent of the Africa's one billion people are currently online, but that share is rising. More than 720-million Africans have mobile phones, 167-million already use the Internet, and 52-million are on Facebook," reported consultancy McKinsey, in a report entitled " Lions go Digital: The Internet's transformative potential in Africa."

Click through the gallery above to see, in no particular order, the innovative companies at the forefront of Africa's tech revolution.

READ MORE: Mxit, South Africa's Facebook beater

READ MORE: 'Nigerian iTunes' dances to the mobile phone beat

READ MORE: Africa's techies hop aboard the StartupBus

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Part of complete coverage on
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
A general view of the Hout Bay harbour covered in mist is seen on May 8, 2010 from the Chapman's peak road on the outskirts of Cape Town. Chapman's peak road is the coastal link between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope. When following the African coastline from the equator the Cape of Good Hope marks the psychologically important point where one begins to travel more eastward than southward, thus the first rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a major milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. He called the cape Cabo Tormentoso. As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has been of special significance to sailors for many years and is widely referred to by them simply as 'the Cape'. It is a major milestone on the clipper route followed by clipper ships to the Far East and Australia, and still followed by several offshore yacht races. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Cape Town start-up which offers tours of the city in 3G Wi-Fi equipped vehicles, allows clients to upload holiday photos instantly to social media.
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Regina Agyare, a leading Ghanaian tech entrepreneur, teaches young women coding, and encourages them to pursue a career in technology.
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US Currency is seen in this January 30, 2001 image. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Africa's top entrepreneurs share secrets to success.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Too lazy to have a shower? Worry no more, there's a lotion for that. DryBath let's you skip the bath by rubbing it vigorously over your skin.
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Former doctor started the largest online supermarket in Nigeria, Gloo.ng, to cater to busy women with no time to shop at the grocery store.
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Johannesburg entrepreneur Claire Reid invented a biodegradable tape which makes food gardening simple and effective.
See the full coverage of CNN's African Start-Up -- the show that follows entrepreneurs across the continent making their dreams become reality.
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