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  • Writer's pictureMatt Sitter

Emerging Frontiers: Strategies for Business in Africa Key Insights

Photo credit: Marek Studzinski

It was my pleasure to facilitate AFN’s panel discussion Emerging Frontiers: Strategies for Business in Africa with Adebola (Debo) Omololu, CEO & Co-Founder at GFA Technologies,

Patrick Asare: Principal at UGI Energy Services, LLC; Award-Winning and Bestselling Author, Dr. Amegah Alice (PhD): Education Specialist/Consultant, The World Bank, Nihal Shah: CEO- Biodeal Laboratories Ltd., and Afam Onyema: Co-Founder and CEO of the GEANCO Foundation.

Africa has been underappreciated as a source of talent and innovation. However, this perception is swiftly evolving due to the continent's remarkable economic expansion, demographic shifts, and rising political stability. Boasting a young population, rich natural resources, and an expanding middle class, Africa is the future of a large part of the world economy.

The panel discussion focused on the potential for growth across industries and investment challenges, including capital constraints, government payment delays, and inflation. Speakers emphasized the need to address these barriers to unlock Africa's growth potential.

Key Insights

  • Africa is projected to have 2.6 billion people and 40% of the world's workforce by 2050. Currently, over half of the continent’s population is under 19.

  • Outsourced knowledge work, healthcare, and manufacturing represent large opportunities that can be realized quickly. 

  • Infrastructure and regulation remain limiting factors to realizing growth opportunities. Some technological and physical infrastructures are leapfrogging traditional methods (e.g., mobile phones require far less infrastructure than fixed landlines)

Opportunities in process (with more room to scale!) 

  • Outsourcing of knowledge work to numerous areas in Africa is already happening. High levels of talent for lower cost are appealing. Some private sector organizations are investing in filling this gap where infrastructure (power, internet, etc.) is insufficient.

  • There have been strong investments in infrastructure dedicated to power generation. Infrastructure for transmission and distribution has not kept pace to this point and is a limiting factor for growth.

Key Enablers

Critical to realizing opportunities are: 

  • Further development and support of technical education institutions in Africa to increase workforce capabilities

  • Educational institutions in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, are being promoted and supported to develop skills for outsourcing.

  • Improved energy infrastructure:

  • Focus on improving transmission and distribution systems for reliable power supply in Africa.

  • The private sector plays a more significant role in developing Africa's energy infrastructure, particularly in energy transmission and renewable energy. 

  • Improved mobile and internet infrastructure

  • Much of the continent is reliant on a limited number of undersea cables

  • Redundant solutions via satellite are filling some of this gap

  • Increase investment in primary healthcare, maternal and child health will enable a healthier and more capable population

  • Supporting the many entrepreneurs in waiting with business skills (in addition to specialized or technical ones)

  • Regulation and market access

  • African Free Trade Agreement challenges include a lack of customs duty and limited market access.

  • Digitalization is necessary to meet WHO, European Union, and South African standards.

Other challenges

  • Job creation continues in high population growth countries to address youth unemployment and prevent violence.

  • Healthcare support must be coupled with entrepreneurial training so these gains can be cemented.

Contact Matt with questions or to get connected,

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