VC4Africa entrepreneurs to watch in 2011 now has 91 ventures registered from more than 20 African countries and a surprising number of sectors. It is a nice representation of the sheer diversity in opportunities currently found across the continent.

Many of these projects are positioned for serious progress this coming year. For example I am interested to see what happens next with Uganda Medicinal Plants Growers, a venture posted by Teddy Ruge. UMPG is a commercial farming initiative based in Masindi and is designed to assist farmers commercialize their medicinal crops internationally. This is important work considering Uganda’s economy is agriculture based, with agriculture employing over 80% of the population and generating 90% of its export earnings.

In Kenya its nice to see social ventures like the Recycling plastics and Empowering Youth. Kenya has a great need for low-cost housing and productive waste management. This recycling company will operate in the interest of the local community employing collectors using bicycle with trailers to bring various grades of plastics to processing units for ecologically-sensitive, efficient sorting, granulating and moulding (under low heat) into panels to be used for cheap housing. Not only is this an innovative approach that addresses a growing need, they are clearly taking the steps to embed the program and design it in a way that makes it socially sustainable and thereby economically viable.

A Nigerian based venture to watch is eHealth. This project supports the management of health facilities in Nigeria to influence health-related funding and policy decisions, and provides doctors with the patient information needed to improve decision-making before, during, and after care. This is not only a support service needed in Nigeria but I can imagine there are needs for their products in other African countries too. But given there are at least 85 listed hospitals in Nigeria there is plenty of work needed to get the company up and running.

A venture that caught my attention in Cameroon is Hot Ice. Hot Ice is a fashion company that specializes in supplying affordable African-styled fashion accessories for trendy suburban women. Hot Ice really looks to differentiate its brand and seeks to build a fashion culture that local consumers can identify with.

Finally Agro-Hub, Geofeed, Naijaborn and Hizonotes offer a nice sample of the web and mobile related projects we have in our network. More projects are signing up by the day and clearly 2011 is set to be the year of Entrepreneurship in Africa!