Business opportunities in Africa that will make more millionaires in 2018

In Rwanda, Zipline is a drone delivery startup that delivers blood and medical supplies to clinics in the country. After successful pilot operations, it is now expanding into neighbouring Tanzania. File photo.

The term “millionaire” could be taking a new meaning in Africa. It’s no longer just about the size of your bank account. Africa’s new and emerging generation of millionaires are not just excited about money. They’re also passionate about impact; they want to create value that touches and improves people’s lives.

It’s called impact entrepreneurship. It’s the new way of making money and doing good, at the same time. It’s a model that is proving that profit and ambition do not always have to come at another’s expense.

But Africa’s new wave of entrepreneurs are showing no keen interest in the continent’s finite resources; its timber, gold, copper, oil and diamonds. Rather, they’re far more interested in a much more valuable resource: problems.

Africa is a continent overwhelmed by serious problems, from unemployment and illiteracy, to hunger and inadequate electricity.

Most of these problems are tough, widespread and decades old. But while they are scary and frustrating to most people, entrepreneurs see them for the breathtaking opportunities they really are.

Crowd-farming

Across the world, agriculture is big business and most farmers are financially well-off. But not yet in Africa.

According to the United Nations, Africa’s agribusiness industry is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

And it makes perfect sense. The continent has a huge domestic market, owns 60 per cent of the world’s unused arable land, and has abundant labour resources, and a favourable climate in most parts.

Still, Africa spends over $30 billion on food imports annually.

A big part of the problem is, most of Africa’s food is still produced by smallholder farmers in rural areas. They are largely poor people who use crude farming methods, and have very limited access to capital.

But what if all of us in the cities pool funds together, invest in these rural farmers, and take a share of the profits at harvest time?

Wouldn’t that significantly boost food production, cut down the continent’s food import bill, and make more money for both the investors and the farmers?

This business model is called “crowdfarming”, and it’s a trend that could totally transform the face of agribusiness in Africa.

As Africa’s population doubles over the next 30 years, the business opportunities in Africa ‘s agribusiness space are very likely to produce a league of millionaires who made their money while pulling thousands of farmers out of poverty.

Waste

For decades, waste has been a huge and nagging problem in Africa’s urban areas.

Currently, most of the waste generated in Africa is either burned, buried or thrown away. As a result, more than 80 percent of solid waste produced on the continent ends up in landfills or gets dumped in water bodies.

And as the continent’s population continues to rise, the waste problem will only get worse.

So, what do we do with all the growing heaps of filthy waste before we find ourselves in the middle of the worst environmental crisis the world has ever known?

Across the continent, entrepreneurs are hard at work trying to squeeze out value from waste, and in the process, they’re creating an industry that could provide both low and high-level jobs for thousands of people.

From the trend of waste recycling and transformation initiatives I’ve observed, there’s only one place this is heading to.

It is predicted that over the next decade, waste will become a valuable commodity that households and businesses can sell for money. And the waste is likely to return to the food chain, to the electricity grid, or in some other recycled form.

Drones

In Africa, it appears there’s much more to drones than chasing terrorists and taking breathtaking altitude photographs.

Drones are finding some of their most versatile and impactful roles in Africa and are helping with everything from logistics and farmland management, to humanitarian deliveries and conservation support.

In Rwanda, Zipline is a drone delivery startup that delivers blood and medical supplies to clinics in the country. After successful pilot operations, it is now expanding into neighbouring Tanzania.

In other parts of the continent, drones are playing more roles in humanitarian efforts to deliver aid to remote and conflict-ridden areas. They are also being used to monitor deforestation and illegal mining activities as part of efforts to conserve the continent’s forests and wildlife.

As you know the drone industry is relatively new and still emerging. At this rate, there is still a wide range of possibilities for drone technology in Africa.

And those entrepreneurs who can adapt drones to solving serious problems on the continent will open new and uncharted territory that could unlock wealth, jobs and more business opportunities in Africa.

Affordable housing

Africa is experiencing the world’s highest rate of rural-to-urban migration. And by 2030, it is projected that up to 50 per cent of the continent’s population could be living in towns and cities.

Urbanisation is great, but where will all these people live? And even if the governments tried, they cannot build homes fast enough to meet the teeming demand for accommodation.

Africa’s housing crisis opens a lot of interesting opportunities for several industries; from cement production and furniture making, to building contractors and mortgages.

But beyond conventional housing, there is an interesting trend of homes being built from cheap and durable alternatives, like shipping containers.

These alternative options are significantly cutting down the cost of building homes, making them affordable to a larger segment of the population.

So far, most of Africa’s housing developments have focused on the premium and elite segment of the market. While the large margins from this segment have been very lucrative for investors, the biggest opportunities will emerge from providing housing at scale, and at affordable prices.

Automobiles

As more Africans migrate to the cities, the big urbanization wave has caused a surge in demand for transportation services.

Currently, there are just about 44 vehicles per 1,000 people in Africa. This is significantly below the global average of 180, and lower than the motorization rates of other developing regions like Latin America, Oceania and the Middle East.

Estimates suggest that vehicle sales on the continent could reach 10 million units per annum within the next 15 years.

It’s no surprise the big name automobile brands like Toyota, Volkswagen and Mercedes are already digging into the African market by setting up assembly plants on the continent.

But what is more interesting is the emergence of “Made in Africa” automobiles.

Currently, just about 50 percent of Africa’s roads are paved. As the continent’s development drive continues, this percentage will rise and so will the demand for automobiles and transportation services.

This rise in demand will create several interesting business opportunities in Africa and open supporting industries including dealerships, spare parts, auto-service shops, auto financing, and even ridesharing services.

This article was first run on Small Starter, an online  platform targeting emerging entrepreneurs.
 

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