Despite the many ethnic tensions and high levels of unemployment that continue to plague many African nations, the continent is now being referred to as the “world’s most exciting economic frontier.” Africa is experiencing record economic growth rates, surpassing the vast majority of developed economies. Although there are many underlying factors behind the growth, most notably the increased political and thus economic stability currently being experienced in many African nations, most experts are in agreement that the continued rise of entrepreneurship is one of the primary driving factors behind the continent’s recent economic successes.
The Importance of Entrepreneurship
The huge population boom Africa has been experiencing means that the continent has a vast amount of untapped human capital. In fact, the IMF states that by 2035 the number of Africans approaching working age will be greater than the combined numbers of the rest of the world. Of course, this population boom combined with decades of poor government decision making has led to massive levels of unemployment. While this has the potential to spark massive unrest, many experts see entrepreneurship as the key to overcoming this dilemma. The lack of comprehensive government plans to increase employment opportunities has led many Africans to pursue entrepreneurship, and at the same time, many African governments have implemented plans in order to better support small enterprises and help further the growth of entrepreneurship.
Africa’s Leading Lights
Although entrepreneurship is increasing across the continent, there are notably a few countries that have been particularly successful in implementing strategies to further its growth. A report from ‘Entrepreneurship Around the World’ listed Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, and Uganda among the top 10 best places for entrepreneurship in the world. Additionally, Ghana and Kenya are two of the other nations experiencing a huge rise in youth entrepreneurship as well as economic and political involvement, much of which has been driven by technology.
Markedly, Uganda is a particularly enlightening entrepreneurial case study, as the country’s 84% unemployment rate ranks as one of the highest in Africa. Still, the Ugandan government has been gradually shifting towards entrepreneurship as a way to alleviate these unemployment challenges. As such, Uganda has begun implementing programs designed to make it easier for young Ugandans to develop marketable skills and also make it easier for small enterprises and entrepreneurs to access these markets.
The Increase of Africa’s Middle Class
The continued rise of an African middle and upper class has increased the market for quality indigenous African goods, and many entrepreneurs are finding success by creating goods that blend African traditions with international quality standards. Chocolate, clothing, furniture, alcohol, and other luxury goods are all untapped markets and many African enterprises are popping up to meet this growing demand.
Technology-driven entrepreneurship is one arena where the rise hasn’t been as strong as many Western investors have hoped, and instead, much of the growth of entrepreneurship is being seen in areas such as agriculture, production, and transportation. The vast majority of this growth is being undertaken by African youth, which is integral considering the hugely disproportionate number of unemployed youth across the continent. Also, many more African women are starting businesses than ever before, which also seems to hold hope for increased gender equality and access to resources.
The fact that many African governments are now undertaking policies designed to improve entrepreneurship opportunities means that the growth in small enterprises is projected to rapidly increase in the coming years. Many are already stating that Africa is the world’s top place for entrepreneurs. The massive untapped human capital and rapidly developing economies offer almost limitless opportunities for entrepreneurs to be highly successful, while at the same time helping to drive continued economic growth and lower the unemployment rate. Entrepreneurship could really be the key to a brighter future for not only individual African entrepreneurs, but the continued prosperity of the continent as a whole.