Innovation and leverage is Africa’s new mantra

Posted on May 17, 2014 10:24 am

African continent is quietly reinventing itself. Just over the past 12 years, the region has launched a slew of products and services, with more to come in the near future. The common theme running through African cities is innovation and infrastructure growth. The new Africa contrary to what critics has been branding as flash in the pan, and continues to be uniformly developing with Sierra Leone and Uganda expected to be the fastest growing countries in the continent according to data publish by The Economist magazine that slightly a decade ago branded the beautiful continent as the “hopeless continent.” The UK based magazine tone has since changed. “Africa rising” is no longer a dream but a reality. I have been in dozens of sub Saharan African countries’ to know that. To prove their dedication to a well-calculated approach, African countries have even changed their economic policies several times years to suit the changing environment.

While many in western cities may see this as just a short term progress, the extension of a common development language across all African Union member countries, there is a firm belief and feeling they are on unfamiliar ground that was for so long synonymous with developed world. The continent has realized that if it is to gain a significant growth and build new markets, it can only do so by using its already successful products as a springboard. Lately, the continent has been making a serious effort to compete in the technology industry with countries like Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana joining the big boys of the continent like Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria. The transition into these new areas has not been easy for a continent of Africa’s size and culture.

Many analysts make the mistake of comparing Africa’s new offerings on a one-to-one basis with its already established economies like Asia and Latin America. To me, this sort of analysis is myopic because while this is an accurate snapshot of the present, it does not take into account the long-term perspective. Africa’s ultimate goals do not require it to build industries and factories that are individually competitive in their respective space like the Americans and Europeans did two centuries ago. What African countries are trying to achieve is a visually coherent and expansive economic and social growth driven by flourishing democracies spanning all its corners. The hope is that each will work so well with the others that investors will choose Africa simply because it’s the path of least resistance and they are already familiar with the region’s business aesthetic. The new unified pan African trade is a key component of this strategy as it helps Africa leverage its absolute laggard in the global market and parlay that failure into proper developments and Africa looks like it is well on the road to success.

African technology companies have finally learnt that design and aesthetics are important and they are developing and producing beautiful products. Modern designed products are spread all over the continent, an indicative of brands understanding of 21st century empowered African consumer. For the first time since their independence, African countries are seeing a drop in corruption and most countries are building a suite of institutions that work so well together that people are sitting up and starting to take notice irrespective of being in Lagos, Kampala or Durban or rural areas like Arua in north western Uganda or Mtwara in southern east of Tanzania. Africa’s synergy across their product and service universe could well lead many to buy into its “future growth frontier” as a whole. Africa’s competitors would do well to look around, because the “sleeping giant” has awoken and the ignorant seemed not to have noticed.

Contador Harrison