Thursday, November 17, 2011

Want to become an internet billionaire? Move to Africa.

 David Rowan of Wired Magazine recently wrote a piece on where to move to if you want to be extremely wealthy in the next five years. If you don't believe this, read this:
David Cameron is so keen to give British entrepreneurs a foothold that he recently took a high-level delegation of corporate CEOs to Nigeria and South Africa to highlight "one of the greatest economic opportunities on the planet". The trip -- featuring the bosses of firms such as Barclays and Bombardier, Vodafone and Virgin Atlantic -- was hailed by Downing Street as "a historic visit to a continent with a trillion dollar economy and the potential, according to the IMF, to grow faster than Brazil over the next five years". Much of that growth will come from startups that bring the mobile internet to businesses and consumers who have until now been offline. That's why Cameron's team invited along the British founders of red-hot mobile-money business Monitise, a clever text-messaging system called FrontlineSMS -- and your own Digital Life columnist with his trusty notebook.

It was, admittedly, a surreal four-day schedule -- taking in South Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa -- that, at the last moment, was squeezed to just two days and two countries (well, there was the small matter of a domestic phone-hacking crisis to distract the PM's attention). But that was long enough to get a sense of the extraordinary opportunities -- at a time when McKinsey and Ernst & Young are forecasting that $150 billion will flow into Africa by 2015, and that consumer spending will reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. No wonder Helios Investment Partners could recently raise a $900 million fund specifically targeting the continent.

So where could you make your own tech-based millions? A few obvious markets primed for explosive growth:
  1. Mobile money
  2. E-commerce
  3. Business directories
  4. Health
  5. Leapfrog tech
 As Cameron said in Lagos, "Which continent has six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world? Africa is transforming in a way no-one thought possible 20 years ago…and suddenly a whole new future seems within reach."

Why shouldn't you have a profitable role in that future?

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