To the people living on the African continent, the brilliant innovation emerging from the continent’s unsung entrepreneurs is axiomatic. The rest of the world however remains largely unaware of its rise as a tech powerhouse.
To those paying attention however, it’s clear. In its Fortnightly Thoughts research report American investment banking and securities company Goldman Sachs asks: “Is now the time for multi-nationals to be investing in Africa?”
In short, our conclusion is yes. Africa’s exceptionally robust growth over the last decade is probably understated (informal parts of economies are very big), but not being able to measure this growth precisely shouldn’t detract from Africa‟s potential, which is about much more than resources as it evolves and climbs the consumption, urbanisation and perhaps industrialisation curves that the BRICs have climbed.
We believe meaningful opportunities for western consumer companies exist as Africa’s household consumption grows rapidly (it is already greater than some of the BRICs) and that failure to invest now will see others rush in. Capital flows and trade flows into Africa are a microcosm of the changing world, with the BRICs already there, notably in commodities.
Still not convinced? African VC companies are being recognised internationally. Acquisition International (AI) magazine recently named Knife Capital South Africa’s Venture Capitalist of the year. “During times of economic uncertainty many fail, however the AI M&A winners have defeated the odds and come into their own. The talent, ingenuity and down-right hard work of all of our winners, in what is still a very competitive market, is living proof that good business can still be done,” says Kathryn Turner, Chief Coordinator of the AI M&A Award.
Knife Capital is a Southern African growth equity fund manager focusing on technology-enabled ventures for a sustainable impact on innovation, job creation and growth.
“There are 45 collaborative technology hubs in Africa that are training and connecting tech entrepreneurs and encouraging open innovation,” says Knife Capital co-founder, Keet van Zyl. “Some of the results are already attracting global attention, like Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile-phone based money transfer service. MXit is the largest social network in Africa and cloud orchestration software venture Nimbula has been backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.”
According to to Acquisition International, this year’s M&A winners have rallied well with key to their successes in the ability to adapt and act creatively in business and their exceptional performance is expected to continue into next year and beyond.