Africa 2.0

I recently read an eye opening article in Wired magazine that prompted me to write a brief note about my view of future economic growth in Africa, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa where the common American view seems to be one of disease, famine, and war.

Prior to the World Cup 2010 most of my friends had no idea that South Africa was even a country, they simply thought it was the southern area of the African continent. I merge that view with what I see on the news in the US and the UK and Africa as a continent is painted as a primitive world in constant need of Western aide. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular seems to have the worst stigma associated as North Africa is viewed by many as an extension of the Middle-East and thus more closely associated with the Arab world (another blog post altogether).

Facts being what they are Africa as a continent sustained constant growth in GDP of over 3% even through the financial crisis of 2008-2009 whose effects are still being felt. Given the population of 1 billion+ it is amazing to note that over 55% of the population of the continent are using mobile phones (91% in the US, 85% in the UK). Africa is poised to be the next largest untapped global technology center.

Entrepreneurial culture, rapidly increasing mobile infrastructure, and a ravenous demand for technology and services are the catalysts for technology growth in Africa. Mobile infrastructure, banking, digital advertising, and mobile services in general are seeing increases in growth across the board. Technology infrastructure investments from China, and Brazil absolutely dwarf contributions from Western nations obsessively focused on aide. Brazil is a particular standout as a nation seeing high single-digit and double-digit GDP growth over the last 5 years and in the process of executing plans to connect directly to Angola, and South Africa via one of the largest capacity trans-Atlantic data cables ever installed.

Local entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are highlighted in the Wired article as creating businesses, creating demand, and successfully navigating the often labyrinthine bureaucracy national governments. As Western investors focusheavily on BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nation growth over the next 5-10 years, I would wager my money on growth in African nations South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Mozambique, and Morocco as telecommunications, mobile services, banking, and tourism have a high potential to outperform.

What are your thoughts?

Source (Wired Magazine UK)


I like how you’ve focused the piece on African growth outside of its mineral wealth. Many tend to correlate growth from the continent in the context of commodities (justifiably so) – but what’s not well known is that from 2000 – 2009, of the 11 African countries that grew at an annual rate of over 7% – five of these realised growth in areas that had nothing to do with energy or metal exports. TMT is definately the new space. Nice!