By Nomali Cele
Gone are the days of “the dark continent” which Africa never was, to begin with. These days, Africans are building and growing their countries and with each other, even in the face of setbacks that include slow development and tough financial times. What Africa needs is investors – who don’t always have to be from the West or the East – to believe in the future we are building right now.
Three countries which the World Economic Forum considers to be among the worlfastest-growingwing economies are in Africa: Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Senegal. Aside from these fast-growing economies, we have others that — though stagnating in growth due to tough economic times — are still among the world’s big earners, best job markets and investment hubs such as Nigeria, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt and even South Africa.
Which industries on the continent are safe bets in terms of projected growth and market demand? Start with the following four.
For many African countries, agriculture is a big part of their gross domestic product, a big part they depend on to stay stable and grow. Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are among the top 10 cocoa producers in the world, South Africa is listed in the top 10 wine producers and the biggest cashew nut-producing countries (among them Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Benin) are on the continent.
While the drought of last year, stemming from El Niño weather patterns, has created problems for farms and the industries they feed, Sub-Saharan Africa is already at work figuring out the best ways to counter climate change and how to protect the region’s agricultural industry.
Is there anything more exciting than looking at textiles you’ve just bought and seeing on the label such phrases as “Made in South Africa”, “Made in Swaziland” or “Made in Lesotho”? Yes, the red sole shoes and other imports are wonderful additions to any wardrobe, but these kinds of purchases – the locally-made kind – and supporting local, keeps jobs in the textile industry going.
There’s also car manufacturing happening in parts of South Africa, electronics manufacturing in Nigeria and chocolate manufacturing in Madagascar. The last part shows that sometimes importers of African good don’t just want the raw materials, they want a finished product made from start to finish on the continent.
The United Nations currently projects that by 2030, 123-million travellers will make their way to various spots on the continent. Put this against the current 54-million projects currently, and think about investing in African tourism. It’s a fantastic decision.
Africa is beautiful: It boasts remarkable beaches, mountains, forests and cities. The people, cultures and experiences make African countries a unique destination for holidaymakers and general travellers. There are also new hospitality models, which could help make the tourism economy accessible to even small players. The website www.airbnb.com allows anyone with accommodation to list their place online. It’s popular with the young and urban traveller looking for convenient and affordable accommodation in most parts of the world.
In 2015, Airbnb announced a planned expansion in Africa, the model is already used in 17 countries on the continent.
Putting your faith in African creative production would not be a misstep. From the booming Nollywood film industry in Nigeria that has made light work of straight-to-DVD releases and television movies to intercontinental music collaborations between artists such as local rapper AKA and Nigeria’s Burna Boy, Africa is making its own entertainment products.
With digital migration imminent, there will be more channels to broadcast African-made content and take it to the masses. Even international platforms such as Netflix will have to adapt and accommodate the need for local content on its channel if it’s to survive. Cape Town has become a production hub over the years with Hollywood blockbusters often filming there.
Where do you think Africa’s economic future lies?