The negative image long associated with Africa has weighed on the continent’s opportunities to fully benefit from the surge in global investment and reap the benefits of globalization.
Today, like the British weekly The Economist, African and international media are better reporting on the continent’s remarkable economic achievements. But the continent has very little control over its own story. As an illustration, Africa accounts for less than 3% of Google searches on the Internet.
In addition, the current narrative on the emergence of Africa, almost exclusively focused on impressive and uninterrupted economic growth of 5% per year on average over the past fifteen years, is very simplistic.
Changing the image of Africa means going beyond the economic dimension to include at least two other essential aspects which bear witness to solid fundamentals: on the one hand, the strong demand for a growing middle and urban class , and on the other, the rise in foreign direct investment.
The facts thus militate in favor of an appreciation which claims to be more favorable to the development of the continent, and articulated around a discourse which sees in Africa the new El Dorado of capital investors, and a continent of entrepreneurs.
Without entrepreneurship, the economy struggles to become part of a growth dynamic. As such, we can offer three areas of guidance and action to accelerate investment for the benefit of entrepreneurship in Africa, and thereby transform its image and its future.
The first key factor in the success of investing in entrepreneurship in Africa will be to energize the culture of entrepreneurship, which turns opportunities into phenomenal achievements. It is in this perspective that the UNDP works on the promotion of inclusive markets in Africa through the development of regional value chains in sectors such as agro-industry.
Second, African countries need to put in place policy frameworks that encourage and support entrepreneurship. Facilitating the act of investment propels entrepreneurial development. The public procurement arsenal must also be used as a strategic lever to promote entrepreneurship, primarily SMEs, which represent almost 90% of all businesses and provide more than 50% of jobs.
Third, Africa will have to reinvent its way of financing business. Although booming, the banking sector in Africa is still fragmented and somewhat distant from the growing demand for corporate investment finance. It is therefore necessary to develop another form of financial intermediation which would reconcile banking with finance, and which would combine the culture of risk with that of profitability.
We could not find a better and fairer formula for “rebranding” than that of Graça Machel when she says that “business is the new image of Africa”. The entrepreneurial potential is very strong in Africa. So you have to cultivate it.
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