Africa: Resource and Opportunity-Rich; Data-Poor


Sarah Caddy

We recently met with LinkedIn and were surprised to find that they don’t yet publish numbers for their sub-Saharan Africa membership. Facebook’s growth in Africa on the other hand has been covered extensively.

With Apple reaching record sales in China with its iPhone 5 over the weekend, tech companies will soon be mobilizing their resources to capitalise on the opportunities posed by emerging markets with their growing middle class consumers. Market expansion calls for good data. This is where Africa as a continent faces a big challenge. As recently as May 2012, was reporting on the fact that “the lack of reliable and valid information has been posing threats for the government to draw strategies as well as incentives that will add value to the economic growth”.

Outside of Africa, we have recently worked on a research project for Jacana Partners to uncover attitudes among African MBA graduates . We asked the African diaspora community in the top ten European and American business schools what they plan to do when they graduate. Our initial hypothesis was that graduates are heading back home to forge their career trajectory because of the superior opportunities that the Continent offers. The findings of the survey concluded that at least 70% of students would return home to work and half of those would look to start their own companies and become entrepreneurs.

Njeri Rionge, serial African entrepreneur, noted in her recent speech at CDC, that one of the primary struggles that she and her partner encountered when setting up Wananchi in Kenya, was the lack of data on processes, competitors, and the marketplace. Let us hope that by the time these business graduates return to start their economy-building companies, there will be more information available.

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Africa (up) rising?


Isabelle Alenus-Crosby

Ghanaians elected the incumbent president John Mahama in a close vote last week.

There were protests, but generally speaking the elections were peaceful, as predicted. President Mahama was sworn in as president in July 2012 after the death of John Atta Mills, and the transition had been smooth.

However, he instantly started campaigning, promising to tackle youth unemployment, exactly as his opponent had been doing for many months already. It was therefore difficult to gauge what kind of a president he would make.

A statement this weekend has given a first insight. President Mahama has officially declared that the path to prosperity would be bumpy if his government failed to see the importance of entrepreneurship. He has vowed to create an environment where business would prosper and promised to rid Ghana of the challenges and obstacles that are currently discouraging future young entrepreneurs.

Half of all students graduating at Ghanaian universities leave the country due to lack of opportunity. Mahama seems determined to change this. It is essential that policymakers craft policies that are suitable for their national context.

It sounds like the Ghanaian president is set on putting together just such a strategy sooner rather than later.