The unfolding demographic boom in many Sub-Saharan African countries is to transform the region’s economy into one of the largest and most dynamic in the world according to Ambassador Erwin Bollinger, Head of Bilateral Economic Relations and Delegate of the Federal Council for Trade Agreements.
Amb. Bollinger asserts at the 2022 edition of Africa Business Day recently held in Baden Switzerland.
He believes the demographic transition will lead to a growing pool of human talent and ingenuity. He says: If “Empowered, these new generations can realize their best potential and master the challenges facing Africa, from climate change to population growth and rapid urbanization.”
He explains that by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa, and as it is now, the youngest continent with around sixty percent of its inhabitants under the age of 25 years is favoured for future economy. In addition its population as projected will be doubled by 2050 to 2.5 billion, accounting for half of global population growth.
Erwin asserts that the advancing technology, artificial intelligence, and automation mean that historically prevalent development paths would no longer viable, instead, the digital economy and infrastructure would help the region to leapfrog – boosting resilience, expanding access to global markets, and creating new jobs.
Believing it is happening already, he cites a Kenyan-based company Wasoko which offers digital solutions to the informal sector to help connect small retailers to traders more efficiently. “Its success has not gone unnoticed,” he said, adding: “ Wasoko raised USD 125 million in March this year and topped the Financial Times 2022 list of Africa’s fastest growing companies.”
He points to another example of how Africa is moving ahead in the digital era, “is its fintech sector, which is servicing Africa’s underbanked and unbanked population. As venture capitalists and other investors are flocking to Africa, market capitalization has grown.”
“African start-ups in 2021 raised close to USD 5 billion. The Nigerian-based Flutterwave, which was founded in 2016 and provides a payment infrastructure across the continent, is currently the highest valued African startup with a market capitalization of USD 3 billion, topping other fintech companies such as Chipper Cash, OPay, or Wave.
He suggests that not only will the “up-and-coming African generations shape Africa’s future, they will shape our future too.” To see Africa from the perspective of young African entrepreneurs is to see a continent with potential and opportunities. They are already proving that they can innovate, provide value, and create jobs. This in turn will create more opportunities for business ties between Africa and other parts of the world, including Switzerland.
Commenting on Africa Business Day, he says “ABD provides a unique platform to re-imagine Africa, connect minds and exchange ideas, and find new ways to seize the opportunities it offers.” And that is the reason, the “State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is proud to lend its support to such an inspiring event.”