The Executive Chairman of Global Media Alliance, Mr Edward Boateng, says Africa holds great potential for entrepreneurs on the continent but it takes hard work from Africans to translate them into real benefits for businesses.
He said entrepreneurs on the continent must be prepared to take risks and act with speed or miss out on the opportunities.
Speaking at the 2nd Vodafone African SMEs Summit in Accra on the topic: ‘The State of Africa And What It Beckons’, Mr Boateng said the large tracks of land in the region showed that the continent presented a fine opportunity for entrepreneurs and therefore, wished that they expanded and grew.
He explained that the growing middle class on the continent showed that people were ready to spend, adding “Africa's middle class has tripled with the highest usage of mobile phones in the world with an individual using two or more phones whereas it will be hard for you to find someone in the United States or China with two or more phones.”
Politics inhibiting businesses
Mr Boateng said doing business in sub-Saharan Africa was challenging, and that it was important for governments, especially the Ghanaian authorities, to provide the right regulatory framework to facilitate a free business environment.
''I am in a business that I sometimes ask myself what is the plan, there are more radio stations in Accra than in the city of New York. Meanwhile, the city of New York has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that is three times or more bigger than that of Accra,'' he quizzed.
Mr Boateng said the stability the continent was experiencing should be a toast for African governments to help SMEs, stressing that companies such as Microsoft and Facebook were all built on the back of government infrastructure.
Their governments had already invested in research and provided them with the results. The companies therefore, did not have to invest so much of their resources in search of what to do, since their government had already provided them data of where to invest.
''I think that's where the government has to come in to make business a bit easier and provide SMEs with the intelligence on where to invest because in our society now, we are still growing by trial and error'', he stated.
Economics, politics and religion
The Convenor of the Summit and CEO of Creative Trends, Mr Yaw Asamoah, said while the advanced and rich countries led their development and approached everyday life from economics stand-points, Africa had consistently allowed religion, and in recent times, wanton politics to define their way of life.
That informed why Africa, which had a large land mass able to accommodate the rest of the world, was still the poorest continent in the world, where poverty was lethargic in giving way to prosperity and development over the last generation.
Mr Asamoah stressed that the continent had a brighter future, as its population would grow faster than any part of the world, with younger people than ever with next door Nigeria having the fourth largest population in the world; factors that should make it opportune for Africa to lead any transformation the world may see into the 22nd century.
However, for that to happen, he said, Africa should break away from the emphasis on politics and religion, and think in economic terms, and project its private sector, especially small businesses, to lead the way in defining the future.
He therefore, stressed the need for SMEs to embrace technology, be innovative and keep learning to transform the continent by the next 50 years. — GB