They are young, tech-savvy, and already one step ahead of the booming economy and the Internet on the continent.
“We are at the right place at the right time. This is how the richest man in Tanzania, Mohammed Dewji, 40, explains the success of a whole generation of African entrepreneurs. The continent’s youngest billionaire – his fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $ 1.25 billion – is one of the leading figures of this generation. His company, MeTL, which produces and markets consumer goods – detergents, soaps, cooking oils – has become in ten years the largest conglomerate in this country of 50 million inhabitants. Over this period, sales increased 60-fold and now exceeds $ 1.5 billion. “My company has benefited from strong economic growth in Tanzania and East Africa, between 6 and 8%,” said Mohammed Dewji. I focused on export, focusing on technology and Internet sales. ”
The young Tanzanian CEO is in second place in the ranking of 100 “young African leaders aged 40 and under”, published in October by the French institute Choiseul. “He perfectly embodies this new generation of entrepreneurs who have enabled their business to experience rapid growth and many of whom come from English-speaking Africa,” said Pascal Lorot, president of this liberal think tank. Driven by stronger growth than in French-speaking or Portuguese-speaking Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania are the best represented countries in a ranking which gives pride of place to new technologies. Several entrepreneurs, such as the Senegalese Mariéme Jamme, 41, considered by Forbes as one of the twenty most influential women in Africa, have thus benefited from the boom in the use of the Internet and mobile telephony on the continent. . His company SpotOne, which helps software manufacturers to set up in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, has enjoyed growing success for the past ten years. “With the mobile phone, you can find out where the nearest polling station is, organize work in the fields, anticipate the weather,” she says. It’s a little revolution for Africa. ”
The “Cameroonian Steve Jobs”…
Cameroonian Tony Smith, 31, a former engineer at Boeing and Microsoft, whom the press in his country presents as the “Steve Jobs Cameroonian”, he created in 2011 Limitless Corporation, a company specializing in the design of software, smartphones and tablets. “The mobile industry contributed over 100 billion dollars to the economy of sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, or 5.7% of the region’s GDP, it’s colossal,” he argues. . Nearly 400 million people use a mobile phone in sub-Saharan Africa. We must surf on this dynamic which is notably due to the development of the middle class. According to the African Development Bank, this should increase from 370 million people in 2015 to 462 million in 2060. But does this growth really create jobs on African soil? “Of the group’s 24 companies, 17 are based on the continent,” replies Tony Smith. And 300 of our 480 employees are present in Nigeria. The goal is to create 20,000 jobs in Africa within three years. ”
To reach this level of performance, these business leaders had to go into exile to gain access to the best training. HEC, London School of Economics, Harvard, Polytechnic, universities of Maryland or Moscow … Pascal Lorot notes: “These young bosses are more and more globalized, they often have a double, even triple university course. But not all of them return to Africa. Not yet !