4 posts tagged foresight
4 posts tagged foresight
Africa starts 2013 with hope and optimism. Africa has dropped its mantle as a “doomed continent” and has weathered several global economic crises fairly well.
Today, the continent is a land of opportunity both for Africans and international investors. Many now see the region as “emerging Africa” because of the positive changes that have taken place and continue to take place across the continent. Africa has changed, moving from economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average.
The continent is now home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world: Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.
This growth has helped build a burgeoning middle class, which has created new markets for goods and services. Investors focused on tapping into these new markets in Africa are likely to find it easier to do business there than ever before as African governments are working to reduce transaction costs. In addition to growing consumer markets, African countries have discovered additional natural resources. If managed properly, these resources could help spur further economic growth and development for the region and improve the lives of millions. Such an optimistic outlook for the continent means that African and global policymakers must get ahead of the challenges and opportunities for an important year of decision-making.
Since 2010, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) has asked its scholars to assess the top priorities for Africa in the coming year. This year, AGI experts and colleagues have identified what they consider to be the key issues for 2013 and ways to leverage opportunities so that Africa can continue its “emerging” momentum.
The following briefs in the Foresight Africa collection are meant to create a dialogue on what matters in Africa for 2013, and it is our hope that this dialogue will continue through the year.
MANY people know that “mobile money”—financial transactions on mobile phones—has taken off in Africa. How far it has gone, though, still comes as a bit of a shock. Three-quarters of the countries that use mobile money most frequently are in Africa, and mobile banking in some of them has reached extraordinary levels.
A new survey of global financial habits by the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Gallup World Poll found 20 countries in which more than 10% of adults say they used mobile money at some point in 2011. Of those, 15 are African.
In Kenya, Sudan and Gabon half or more of adults used mobile money. In contrast, in countries with more developed financial systems, the share of adults who use mobile money is tiny—1% in Brazil and Argentina. If you think of banking by phone as just a way of using financial services, then these African countries—where people sometimes live several days’ walk from the nearest branch—are much more financially literate than you might think, just by looking at how many banks they have.
Modest in nature but ruthless in his business dealings, Mr Dangote’s bets on Nigeria, and the wider region, have paid off spectacularly, earning him a fortune conservatively estimated at $12bn. They have also made him the champion of homegrown investment in Africa, and given him a headstart on multinationals wary of the difficulties and risks on investing on the continent.
“The opportunities are here, the growth is here,” the president, chief executive and founder of Dangote Group says.
“Where else do you get this type of growth? Maybe Asia, but the difference we have from them is that we are starting from a low level. The return on investment takes out the risk.”