Why does Africa have the ability to win the rest of the world with innovation?



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Companies like Zipline, based in Rwanda, are setting new standards in innovation, allowing African countries to set new global standards.

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The African continent has certainly faced its fair share of challenges in the last decades. But with emerging economies likely to help drive progress in many parts of the world, Africa is now embracing technological changewhich is transforming the continent and even leading the way of innovation.

Traditionally, Africa has suffered from almost unbearable instability. But as the benefits of independence began to emerge, an African economic boom began, which was compared to Asia's growth in the 1970s. This process developed until 2013 in such a way that Africa housed seven of the economies that most grow in the world.

To this day, Africa's most prosperous nations are growing economically at a rate that surpasses virtually all other countries.

Willingness to embrace change

Probably the most important critical factor in this transformation was the continent's willingness to embrace change. The last fifteen years witnessed a vast technological revolution in Africa, with companies poised to innovate and people enthusiastically embracing this innovation.

There are demographic indicators that also point to the growing prominence of Africa. According Pascal Gerken – the chairman of YPO 2018 – 2019 – YPO believes that Africa is a continent of the future. Organizations such as the United Nations are predicting that by the beginning of the next century, Nigeria will be the third largest country on the planet with a population greater than one billion. "Africa has grown tremendously and, as a continent, it is really growing at the moment. So it's a single market, unexplored in many areas, but it also needs help. For this reason, I believe countries do not need lessons; what they need is impact investments. "

The African spirit of innovation has already seen mobile platforms become highly established on the African continent. It is noted that by 2020 Sub-Saharan Africa will have more than half a billion single mobile subscribers, making it the fastest growing area for mobile technology and establishing Africa as an emerging platform for social and business innovation.

Africans become the first followers

While other more established economic areas have been slower in adopting technology such as mobile money, Africa has less to lose by adopting it. To date, 66% of sub-Saharan Africans are considered "without a bank"; ie. they do not have access to banking services or bank accounts.

In such a climate, there is simply no need for the general population to cling to some traditional way of doing things. This helps explain why Africa is ahead of Western countries in adopting P2P financing and why mobile banking services, such as mPesa, have been so enthusiastically accepted by African consumers.

Meanwhile, Africa has also been establishing trade agreements with increasingly prominent BRICS countries, which means that African countries can benefit from some of the innovations emanating from this loose group of countries. This is helping shape the direction and pace of economic development in Africa, and such trends have led David McDonald, the founder of The global millennium, to comment that " Africa will change more in the next century than in the last ten. "

Fertile regulatory environment for innovation

Of course, it would be wrong to pretend that everything is suddenly optimistic. There are still massive socioeconomic problems in Africa, and bad governance has definitely not helped. But the weakness and lack of discernment of governments has also opened the door for companies to have access to fertile economic environments, free of regulation, and in which populations are highly receptive to an improvement in their standard of living.

This meant that many startups actually headed straight for Africa and found that the region is fully prepared to accept them. An example is the startup of Silicon Valley Zipline, which was initially turned down when attempting to test fixed-wing drones in US airspace. Rwanda welcomed the company with open arms, and Zipline is now a pioneer in delivering blood and medical supplies to remote areas.

Ravi Naidoo, the founder of Design Indaba conference, is a great believer in this paradigm shift and comments that Africa is able to offer some unique opportunities, partly because of the unique and relatively relaxed political regulatory environment, and partly because of the many issues that need to be addressed. Naido describes this as a "beautiful symbiotic relationship."

African countries provide the ideal scenario for startups – offering new challenges, untapped potential and, indeed, becoming a financial provider.

Shifting Balance for Opportunity

While Africa continues to present unique challenges, the balance between challenge and opportunity is now beginning to tip in favor of the latter. But understanding the cultural, economic and logistical difficulties involved in investing in Africa is vital to success, according to Yariv Cohen, the founder of Ignite Power power startupwho spoke in the recent Summit of the Family Office in Africa in Cape Town.

"The key to success is to deliver quality at an affordable price, so it's a matter of patience. If the value proposition is correct, and you have the right local team, it will only be a matter of time – they will solve all the challenges along the way, "Cohen said.

As the history of African growth unfolds, investors are inevitably looking to the continent as a space for innovation. And with the impact investment being a predominant trend today, it means that Africa is in the perfect position to benefit. The private sector will undoubtedly drive growth in Africa as the continent continues to evolve over the next few years.

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Companies like Zipline, based in Rwanda, are setting new standards in innovation, allowing African countries to set new global standards.

Getty

The African continent has certainly faced its fair share of challenges in the last decades. But with the trend of emerging economies helping to drive progress in many parts of the world, Africa is now taking technological change that is transforming the continent, and even leading the way of innovation.

Traditionally, Africa has suffered from almost unbearable instability. But as the benefits of independence began to emerge, an African economic boom began, which was compared to Asia's growth in the 1970s. This process developed until 2013 in such a way that Africa housed seven of the economies that most grow in the world.

To this day, Africa's most prosperous nations are growing economically at a rate that surpasses virtually all other countries.

Willingness to embrace change

Probably the most critical factor in this transformation was the continent's willingness to accept change. The last fifteen years witnessed a vast technological revolution in Africa, with companies poised to innovate and people enthusiastically embracing this innovation.

There are demographic indicators that also point to the growing prominence of Africa. According to Pascal Gerken – YPO president from 2018 – 2019 – YPO believes that Africa is a continent of the future. Organizations such as the United Nations are predicting that, at the beginning of the next century, Nigeria will be the third largest country on the planet, with a population of more than one billion. "Africa has grown tremendously and, as a continent, it is really growing at the moment. So it's a single market, unexplored in many areas, but it also needs help. For this reason, I believe countries do not need lessons; what they need is impact investments. "

The African spirit of innovation has already seen mobile platforms become highly established on the African continent. It is noted that by 2020 Sub-Saharan Africa will have more than half a billion single mobile subscribers, making it the fastest growing area for mobile technology and establishing Africa as an emerging platform for social and business innovation.

Africans become the first followers

While other more established economic areas have been slower in adopting technology such as mobile money, Africa has less to lose by adopting it. To date, 66% of sub-Saharan Africans are considered "without a bank"; ie. they do not have access to banking services or bank accounts.

In such a climate, there is simply no need for the general population to cling to some traditional way of doing things. This helps explain why Africa is ahead of Western countries in adopting P2P financing and why mobile banking services, such as mPesa, have been so enthusiastically accepted by African consumers.

Meanwhile, Africa has also been establishing trade agreements with increasingly prominent BRICS countries, which means that African countries can benefit from some of the innovations emanating from this loose group of countries. This is helping to shape the direction and pace of economic development in Africa, and such trends have led David McDonald, founder of The Global Millennial, to comment that " Africa will change more in the next century than in the last ten. "

Fertile regulatory environment for innovation

Of course, it would be wrong to pretend that everything is suddenly optimistic. There are still massive socioeconomic problems in Africa, and bad governance has definitely not helped. But the weakness and lack of discernment of governments has also opened the door for companies to have access to fertile economic environments, free of regulation, and in which populations are highly receptive to an improvement in their standard of living.

This meant that many startups actually headed straight for Africa and found that the region is fully prepared to accept them. An example is Zipline, the Silicon Valley startup, which was initially turned down when attempting to test fixed-wing drones in US airspace. Rwanda welcomed the company with open arms, and Zipline is now a pioneer in delivering blood and medical supplies to remote areas.

Ravi Naidoo, founder of the Design Indaba conference, is a strong believer in this paradigm shift and comments that Africa is able to offer some unique opportunities, in part because of the unique and relatively relaxed political environment, and partly because of the many issues they need be resolved. Naido describes this as a "beautiful symbiotic relationship."

African countries offer the ideal scenario for startups – offering new challenges, untapped potential and then really becoming a financial provider.

Shifting Balance for Opportunity

While Africa continues to present unique challenges, the balance between challenge and opportunity is now beginning to tip in favor of the latter. But understanding the cultural, economic and logistical difficulties involved in investing in Africa is vital to success, according to Yariv Cohen, founder of energy startup Ignite Power, who spoke at the recent Africa Family Office meeting in Cape Town.

"The key to success is to deliver quality at an affordable price, so it's a matter of patience. If the value proposition is correct, and you have the right local team, it will only be a matter of time – they will solve all the challenges along the way, "Cohen said.

As the history of African growth unfolds, investors are inevitably looking to the continent as a space for innovation. And with the impact investment being a predominant trend today, it means that Africa is in the perfect position to benefit. The private sector will undoubtedly drive growth in Africa as the continent continues to evolve over the next few years.

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