Africa: Resource and Opportunity-Rich; Data-Poor21 December 2012


Sarah Caddy

We recently met with LinkedIn and were surprised to find that they don’t yet publish numbers for their sub-Saharan Africa membership. Facebook’s growth in Africa on the other hand has been covered extensively.

With Apple reaching record sales in China with its iPhone 5 over the weekend, tech companies will soon be mobilizing their resources to capitalise on the opportunities posed by emerging markets with their growing middle class consumers. Market expansion calls for good data. This is where Africa as a continent faces a big challenge. As recently as May 2012, was reporting on the fact that “the lack of reliable and valid information has been posing threats for the government to draw strategies as well as incentives that will add value to the economic growth”.

Outside of Africa, we have recently worked on a research project for Jacana Partners to uncover attitudes among African MBA graduates . We asked the African diaspora community in the top ten European and American business schools what they plan to do when they graduate. Our initial hypothesis was that graduates are heading back home to forge their career trajectory because of the superior opportunities that the Continent offers. The findings of the survey concluded that at least 70% of students would return home to work and half of those would look to start their own companies and become entrepreneurs.

Njeri Rionge, serial African entrepreneur, noted in her recent speech at CDC, that one of the primary struggles that she and her partner encountered when setting up Wananchi in Kenya, was the lack of data on processes, competitors, and the marketplace. Let us hope that by the time these business graduates return to start their economy-building companies, there will be more information available.

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