Africa’s rise has become a widely discussed international policy topic. With aging populations and stagnating economic growth, developed economies are looking toward Africa as a source of skilled labour and, increasingly, innovation.
Africa’s ability to sustain its current growth will depend largely on how quickly it will be able to shift from reliance on traditional commodity markets to modern economic structures that focus on technology-driven development. The focus on innovation is emerging as a key theme in the Africa Union’s long-term strategy, Agenda 2063.
As a latecomer, Africa has the benefit of tapping into vast quantities of technological knowledge available worldwide. The continent’s leapfrogging into the mobile revolution illustrated the power of latecomer advantages. It is now the origin of new industries such as mobile money transfer. The mobile revolution is still in its infancy and is already being extended to other sectors such as health, education and agriculture.
Currently, 15% of the world’s population resides in Africa, but over the next 35 years more than half of global population growth will be in the continent. It currently contributes $2.4tn (or 3%) of the world’s nominal GDP, but this is expected to grow to $29tn by 2050. Within this context, global companies are making huge investments into skills development and innovation on the African continent.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum, Sub-Saharan Africa is actively committed to closing the gender gap and improve economic participation across gender. It is evident that woman in the continent have a special role to play in the field of entrepreneurship innovation.
The continent takes the lead across the world when it comes to female entrepreneurs, boasting impressive numbers such as 40.7% in Nigeria and Zambia and 27.9% in Ghana. These figures have been validated by the success of the “Women in Tech Africa” event series around the globe.
Hence, Investing in the continent’s future is imperative if nations globally wish to remain competitive – and relevant – throughout the 21st century.