With peace efforts bearing fruit in Somalia after the election of the new government and less terrorism news across the continent, headlines are shifting from war to business.
With the exception of South Sudan and Burundi, elections are becoming more and more peaceful from east to west leaving the African Union with less peace efforts to focus on. Boko Haram is no longer a major news item and al shabaab is less of a threat than it used to be.
As I write, the African Union is hosting a capacity building entrepreneurship event for women and youth in Zanzibar and the hashtag is trending in Kenya. Africa Union has never been known for such endavours. This shows a historical shift of focus and for men of great insight and ingenuity, it signals the the beginning of a new era.
Right besides AU, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a continent wide fashion entrepreneurship drive to create small businesses in the fashion industry. The bank targeting to create 25 million jobs in the industry alone in the whole of Africa.
The AfDB program was launched in Nairobi last year, Lagos and South Africa and is geared at improving access to financing, access to markets and supply side capacity. The AfDB which is known for huge infrastructure programs seems to have noticed that real growth comes from business masterminds.
To add to that, the World Bank has just launched a business incubator in Africa with a target to mentor and invest in 20 small businesses on the continent this year alone joining hundreds of other incubators across Africa. World Bank which has been more focused on huge state financing is now turning to small businesses indicating a change in strategy and belief in the ingenuity of the African youth.
On the far East, a startup accelerator Innovate Ventures is calling for business ideas in Somalia to apply for incubation indicating improving business environment even as Uber style taxi app Waryaa launched in Somalia early this month.
Somali’s in the diaspora are coming back from abroad in Turkey, UK and east Asia to invest in their own country with even women taking a swipe on presidential elections run
There are 314 technology hubs in 93 cities across 42 countries on the continent with Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco hosting more than half of them, a show of renewed optimism and hope for larger possibilities.
In Kenya big companies such as KCB and Safaricom are sinking millions in Youth Entrepreneurship drives to create a culture of entrepreneurship which is responsible for the greatness of major world powers like the United States for those who have watched the documentary The Men Who Built America.
Countries grow faster when infrastructure programs and key investments are done by businessmen and women rather than the government whose bureaucracy and incompetency always gets in the way of growth.
Startup ecosystems are booming across the continent with as much business incubators launching in Africa than the rest of the world. Africa’s economic growth remains the highest in the world helping to create a middle class for its own manufactured goods.
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There has been renewed focus on regional integration with more steps towards integration of the continent having been made in the last ten years. The East African Community has been ahead but SADDC, ECOWAS and Igad are equally growing influential to create larger markets for entrepreneurs to access more buyers.
Countries with small markets tend to have small entrepreneurs and small corporates. If Safaricom was based in Nigeria, it could have been the biggest company in Africa. Large markets create bigger entrepreneurs such as Aliko Dangote, Mukesh Ambani and Jack Ma, Elon Musk who inturn invest in the society by building schools and green cars etc.
Governments across the continent are investing in major infrastructure projects and in ways to smoothen business processes by improving the ease of doing business on the such as single tourist visas, fast business registration and quicker dispute resolution.
Some would argue that this is a very positive view of things, but these views are all backed by data.