Reflection: Celebrating the dawn of a $3Tn market with 1,2bn people…

__A #GameChanger for Africa.

The release of Nelson Mandela from prison was one of those “Where were you on that day?” moments in history. If you were an African, and old enough to understand its full implication, you are probably able to give an account of yourself, even today. Me, I just watched on TV with total awe, and with my entire family we all cried like babies, hugging each other.

There are also other moments, equally important and profound in the progress of human history, which happen without people fully realizing their significance, sometimes for decades, or even centuries. For instance, two bicycle makers called the Wright Brothers tried for years to get their little winged vehicles to fly across fields and cow pastures. In the arc of history, the invention of those two pioneering engineers impacted the world far more than who was President of the United States at the time!

For those of us who care deeply about the development of the African continent and its capacity to create prosperity and jobs, especially for our young generations now and in the future, the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 21 March was a really big deal.

__It may not yet be drawing the attention of people going about their daily lives, but believe you me, if it is executed properly, it will affect all of us.

We have begun (as Africans) to put in place the building blocks of what will become the world’s biggest single market within 100 years. Today it is nearly $3Tn and 1,2bn people. It will be over $100Tn by the turn of the century, with over 4bn consumers.

You want respect? You will not have to ask for it!

Speaking to you as a serious African entrepreneur, a unique door has been opened. You will not have to struggle as some of us have over the decades, to develop huge companies that will expand quickly across our continent.

If the AfCFTA is executed as envisioned, what will be the benefits for you, your children and future generations for decades to come?

# More and better job opportunities

# More cross-border trade with less red tape (such as at customs and ports)

# Better food security (through lower barriers to trade across the continent)

# More efficient regional supply chains (promoting investment, growth, and creation of jobs)

# Better prices and a wider variety of goods and services (from economies of scale)

# More independence (from aid and external borrowing), innovation, protection of intellectual property… the list goes on.

Prepare to see some really big African companies from every corner of the continent, including some of the smallest countries. And when you see them, say to your kids, “This is what our brothers and sisters launched that day… I was there!”

And then shall it be fulfilled that the “last have become first.”

There is still a lot of work to be done, and many sacrifices, and we will have to make profound changes to the way we conduct our economic and political affairs. We will have to uproot corruption, tribalism, regionalism, and racism from the shores of our continent.

Don’t be a “Monday morning midfielder,” but learn to play the game itself! Countless generations before us paid the ultimate price yet prosperity was never within reach. Now is our time.

As one great African said: “Yes, we can!”

Let us each of us not fail to do our own part. Of the 44 signatory countries, at least 22 must ratify in the next six months.

God bless you. God bless Africa!


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About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

11 thoughts on “Reflection: Celebrating the dawn of a $3Tn market with 1,2bn people…

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    The process of negotiating the AfCTA agreement involved trade and finance ministers from every single African cou​ntry, and took more than 10 years to complete! This is quite normal in such a complex agreement.

    If you, as an African entrepreneur (or future entrepreneur) or an executive in an African company, want to grow into a pan African business, then you need to understand this agreement, and play your part not just to make it work, but to perfect it.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    When Akinwunmi Adesina (the President of the African Development Bank) congratulated the continent’s leaders who signed the agreement, he said he believed Africa’s food and agricultural market can reach US$1Tn+ by 2030. “There is no doubt,” he said. “Africa is where to invest!” What do YOU see?

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    The Business Forum held before the actual launch was an extremely important development. Many of us who know the difficulty of building and operating businesses in multiple African countries have long lobbied that African leaders create a platform on the sidelines of important gatherings of pan African leaders for interactions with key stakeholders with other continental perspectives.

    Yes, I have lobbied on behalf of business and entrepreneurs, but as I said at the inaugural gathering, this engagement must include other stakeholders such as civil society, workers’ representatives, women’s groups, and young people. Let us thank President Kagame, as current Chair of the African Union for starting this process, and we hope his successors will continue with this (best) leadership practice.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Town Hall Meetings in Uganda and Tanzania:
    We are working on the final details for Town Hall Meetings in Uganda and Tanzania which will take place before the end of this month.
    I will be speaking at the Prayer Breakfast in Tanzania next week. I’m hoping to also visit Ethan Man.
    We will give the details later this week.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Visit to Israel:
    This past week my wife and I, accompanied by some of our daughters attended the 70th Remembrance Day Commemoration in Jerusalem. We laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    In the past week I travelled to Asia, Europe, and Israel. I visited some of the most extraordinary businesses involved in what we call “SmartTech”. One company I visited records a person’s voice using a simple smart phone, and can analyze it for diseases in the body like cancer, using computer techniques.
    Cumi Technologies will also be launching an App that uses algorithm to enable anyone in Africa, to find out what is wrong with them without going to the doctor.

    Which brings me to my spiritual reflection:
    I travelled half way round the world in a week. Did all those things. So much knowledge and education. Then I reflected on something Daniel said nearly 3000 years ago, and wondered what he would have thought of our time:

    “When travel and education shall be vastly increased”. (Daniel 12:4)

    Daniel 12:3-4
    “And those who are wise–the people of God–shall shine as brightly as the sun’s brilliance, and those who turn many to righteousness will glitter like stars forever.
    “But Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal it up so that it will not be understood until the end times, when travel and education shall be vastly increased!”

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Olu writes,

    Sir, what role(s) do you expect the common man to play in it?
    If we know what to do, we’ll spread the news around and encourage each other

    My reply,
    First of all don’t see yourself as an “common man”, because God does not see YOU that way!

    I’m teaching principles which I hope will inspire you to become more entrepreneurial either in your business, social enterprise, or as an employee of any type of organization.
    Focus on trying to see the limitless opportunities for yourself…

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Aeon Flux writes, (edited)

    …I need to travel out more. I reckon travel brings (or at least exposes one to) increase in knowledge. Thank you Sir.

    My reply,
    “I need to travel more”!
    It applies to all of us. We should not look at tourism for instance simply as something done by foreigners coming to our own country. We must want to be tourists ourselves.
    If you visit America, the largest number of tourists is not people from outside America, but people from within America, visiting other parts of their own country!
    Imagine what would happen if Africans did the same, both within their own countries, and within Africa. Now that would be a #GameChanger!

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kanange writes,

    In my tribe there’s a saying that goes a child that never moves around will always say my mother is the best cook. A week ago i grabbed an opportunity to visit a neighbouring country that is generally looked down upon in my country. I was amazed at how more developed it is and the vast business opportunities available for me there. Indeed we need to travel more!

    My reply,
    You have touched on a very controversial issue here!
    #It never stops to amaze and dismay me how some people will look down on other African countries they see as less developed as their own. Usually this is common amongst people who have never themselves travelled anywhere!
    It is a terrible habit which must be stamped out just like racism and tribalism. In many ways it is a form of perverse tribalism.
    #Lets cultivate a culture of respect for each other’s country.

    Just think about it for a moment:
    If you [an African] look down at another African country because you think it is less developed than your own, then why should you complain if those from more industrialized and wealthier countries look down on your country?
    I don’t look down on any place I visit, but try to learn from them the things they are proud about, this does not mean I don’t know there are always deep and troubling issues in any country.

    I try to identify opportunities either there or which I can take back with me. I try to make any visit profitable and enriching, either by way of knowledge or even my life vocation.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Aeon Flux writes,

    Thank you Sir, I’m greatly humbled and appreciative. My country’s government has been talking sporadically about increasing wealth generation via intra-national tourism. I’m eager to watch as the sector grows and contributes ever increasingly to GDP, and to participate therein by travelling more within the borders. Thank you again Sir.

    My reply,
    This is wise, and I commend your country for it.
    We need to encourage “intra-country” tourism. When I visit New York, and Washington I’m always impressed by the droves of Americans from other parts of the country who are there as tourists!

    When we arrived in the UK, and most of my kids enrolled at local schools, I was also surprised by the regular requests from the schools for us to host children from other parts of the country! This type of program is so essential in tackling things like tribalism and racism, and even religious xenophobia.


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