Amongst the many things I wanted to achieve with this platform was to get young African entrepreneurs to reach out and start talking to each other, doing business deals, and partnering to find solutions to Africa’s many other challenges. I’m not sure if you saw this comment I made during our discussion on partnerships a while back:
“Afterthought: Here is a secret! The most successful Africans in future are those who master the ability to partner with Africans from other African countries… Shhhh! (Keep this secret to yourself, because there are many enemies out there who will try and stop you from believing this.)”
As an entrepreneur, there are huge benefits for you if Africa can shift its economic narrative to what I sometimes refer to as “Africanization.” We as Africans need to open up this continent to development by Africans. However, this should not be to the exclusion of working with partners from other parts of the world, or frustrating potential investors!
Have you looked at Africa’s numbers lately?
# Continental Africa has a population of 1.2bn people, and a GDP of $2.8Tn.
# It compares quite favorably with India which has a population of 1.3bn, and GDP of $2.6Tn.
# Assuming a compound annual growth of 5%, Africa’s GDP as a continent can reach $30Tn in 50 years.
# This is 1.5 times bigger than the US economy today (at $19Tn), and three bigger than China today ($11Tn). This is not to suggest that we’ll overtake China and the US, because they’ll continue to grow naturally.
# An economy of $2.8Tn, with a population of 1.2bn people could be leveraged to unleash the type of growth we’ve seen in China over the last 25 years, and beginning to see happen in India under PM Modi.
# In 50 years, Africa’s population will be close to 3bn, and the economy could be $30Tn.
# Two-thirds of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25!
# 60% of the population will live in cities (already 37% — comparable to China, higher than India’s. Expected to be world’s fastest urbanization from 2020 to 2050).
# If we can just increase our GDP growth by an additional 2% per annum to 7% — and sustain it and manage it well — Africa’s future could be remarkable.
# This could completely do away with the need for any form of international development aid (currently about $60bn per annum, and being cut anyway!)
So when you hear about 5% growth or “just 2%”… Does that seem like a small number, and one we can easily achieve? Maybe, but any serious economist will tell you: “Not so simple!”
About 20 years ago, I set off on a remarkable journey. I wanted to do business in Africa, as an African. I’ve set up businesses with entrepreneurs and partners from just about everywhere on this continent — north, south, west and east. At one time or another, I’ve worked in every part. Sometimes I’ve set up joint venture partnerships and other times I’ve just sold or bought something.
A global entrepreneur once called me over a planned a massive investment he wanted to make in a certain country. Years later he said to me, “You told me I would lose my investment, and be left with just my shirt…” Then he symbolically took off his shirt! I wished I had been wrong but my experience with how business works there, I knew he would lose his money.
I’ve also advised people to make investments in places where they went to look for themselves and were very surprised, in a good way!
Let me tell you, it won’t be easy, but it’s easier now than 20 years ago, and will be even easier going forward.
# There’s never been a greater need than now for Africans to reach out to each other — beyond tribe, race, and national borders.
Author: Strive Masiyiwa