Africa’s booming business opportunities in 2024

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Africa’s booming business opportunities in 2024 Africa’s abundant natural resources are fuelling a green revolution

The Sunday Mail

Big Business Ideas

Stephene Chikozho

AS 2024 unravels, Africa stands on the brink of an economic renaissance, promising unparalleled opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and investors worldwide. With a dynamic blend of technological innovation, youthful demographics and policy reforms, the continent is poised to redefine its role in the global marketplace.

Renewable energy takes centre stage

Africa’s abundant natural resources are fuelling a green revolution, particularly in the renewable energy sector. Nations like Kenya, with its geothermal ventures; and Morocco, with its solar farms, are leading the charge towards a sustainable future. The continent’s vast, untapped potential for solar, wind and hydroelectric power is attracting significant investment, signalling a bright future for eco-conscious enterprises.

I am inspired by Magdalene Okolo from Nigeria, founder of Solar Sister. Okolo is at the forefront of promoting renewable energy in rural Nigerian communities through a novel approach. Solar Sister empowers women by training them to become clean energy entrepreneurs, facilitating the distribution of solar lanterns, home systems and clean cookstoves. This initiative not only addresses energy poverty but also supports women’s economic empowerment in Nigeria.

Agri-tech: Sowing the seeds of innovation

Agriculture, the backbone of Africa’s economy, is undergoing a digital transformation. With the world’s attention fixed on food security and sustainable practices, the continent’s agri-tech sector is ripe for investment. Innovations such as drone-assisted precision farming, climate-smart agriculture and blockchain for supply chain integrity are revolutionising the way Africa feeds itself and the world.

I draw inspiration from Alloysius Attah from Ghana, co-founder and CEO of Farmerline, a company transforming the way farmers receive information, loans and farm inputs. Utilising mobile technology, Farmerline bridges the information gap, ensuring that farmers get timely advice on best practices, weather forecasts and market prices, which are critical for their success.

Fintech: Bridging the financial divide

The fintech revolution in Africa is dismantling traditional barriers to financial inclusion. Mobile money platforms like M-Pesa and EcoCash have laid the groundwork, but the sector’s future lies in expanding services to underbanked populations through digital banking, insurtech and blockchain technologies. This financial democratisation is not just empowering individuals but also catalysing economic growth across the continent.

I am motivated by Dr Ethel Chiwara-Mupambwa from Zimbabwe, founder and CEO of MoneyMart Finance, a fintech seeking to promote financial exclusion of small and medium enterprises, women and youths by providing financial and credit solutions. MoneyMart goes beyond supporting businesses to managing their finances, keeping track of sales and expenses and addressing the significant gap in financial management tools tailored for the African market.

E-commerce: The digital marketplace booms

With increasing internet penetration and mobile connectivity, Africa’s e-commerce sector is set to explode. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping, creating a burgeoning market for digital retail, logistics and payment solutions. This digital marketplace offers a gateway for local artisans and entrepreneurs to access global markets, transforming local economies.

I am spurred by former CEO and now chairperson of Jumia Nigeria, part of Jumia Group. Under her leadership, Jumia expanded its services and market reach across Africa, offering an online marketplace for electronic gadgets, trendy clothing items and more, alongside Jumia Logistics and JumiaPay, its payment platform. Jumia became the first African tech startup to list on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019.

Healthcare and HealthTech: A vision for universal access

Africa’s healthcare sector faces significant challenges, but with these come substantial opportunities. The push towards universal health coverage is driving innovation in telemedicine, mobile health apps and affordable medical devices. Investments in health infrastructure and services are crucial to building resilient health systems that can withstand future crises.

I am encouraged by Emilian Popa from South Africa, CEO and founder of Ilara Health, a health tech startup that brings affordable diagnostic tools to primary care doctors in peri-urban and rural clinics across Africa. Ilara Health partners with companies producing innovative, low-cost diagnostic devices and integrates them into a tech-based platform, making diagnostics accessible and affordable for the first time to millions of people.

Education and EdTech: Unlocking potential

With one of the youngest populations globally, Africa’s future depends on unlocking its human potential through education. EdTech startups are at the forefront, offering scalable solutions for online learning and digital literacy. The demand for vocational and professional training presents fertile ground for initiatives aimed at equipping the youth with future-proof skills.

I draw inspiration from Farai Munjoma from Zimbabwe, co-founder of Shasha Network, an online platform that provides high school learners with access to course notes, past exam papers and career guidance. Shasha Network seeks to make quality educational resources available to every African learner, regardless of their geographic or socioeconomic status.

Infrastructure and tourism: Building the future

Infrastructure development remains a pivotal area, with vast opportunities in transport, energy and urban planning. Similarly, the tourism sector, with its untapped potential in eco-tourism and cultural experiences, awaits investors ready to explore Africa’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

I am motivated by Beks Ndlovu, founder of African Bush Camps, a safari company offering luxury tented camps and lodges in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. Ndlovu’s commitment to conservation and community empowerment through tourism has set a benchmark for responsible safari operations in Southern Africa.

Manufacturing and tech innovation: The new frontier

As Africa moves towards industrialisation, opportunities abound in manufacturing, driven by the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Moreover, the tech sector continues to be a beacon of innovation, with startups across the continent breaking new ground in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

I am encouraged by Magatte Wade from Senegal, founder of Skin Is Skin, a skincare company that manufactures lip balm and other products using natural ingredients sourced from Africa. Wade’s work emphasises ethical sourcing of materials and manufacturing, promoting biodiversity and job creation while offering high-quality products to the global market.

The road ahead

As 2024 unfolds, Africa’s business opportunities demand attention from the global business community. The continent’s journey towards economic empowerment and sustainability is not just a narrative of growth; it is an invitation to be part of a transformative legacy. For entrepreneurs and investors, the message is clear: Africa is open for business, and the time to act is now.

* Stephene Chikozho is the managing director of Urbane Create Agency — a strategy, marketing and advertising agency. He writes in his personal capacity. You can follow him on social media (Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Threads, WhatsApp: +263772409651) or email: [email protected]

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