The Lion and the Ranger (Part 3)

__Future entrepreneurial opportunities that are now…

A few months ago the British government announced that it will ban “combustion engine vehicles” from the UK roads in 2040. That means they will not allow vehicles which use petrol or diesel on the roads!

# All cars will either have to be electric, or use some other type of fuel!

Ever since that announcement, several other governments around the world have done the same. It turns out that the British were not even the first. Who can tell me which other countries?

As an engineer, I have been expecting the end of the combustion engine for quite a while, to be honest. It’s been around for over 100 years. Too long! As I reflected on this, my thoughts went back to when the “horseless carriage” first emerged…

In the advanced economy nations of Europe and America, horses had been there for thousands of years. America alone had a population of 26 million horses. Horses supported millions of jobs in the cities and on the farms, and famously powered the wagon trains rushing towards America’s “Wild West” in search of gold and silver.

__Can you imagine the fear and trepidation from those who stood to lose their jobs?!

There were also entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity… I once asked someone whose grandfather set up one of the first South African “garages” (service centers) for cars, in the 1920s, how he got into the business.

“My grandfather was very entrepreneurial. As soon as he heard about cars, he said to himself: “How can I make money from this new invention that is going to sweep the world?”

He did not have much money but he decided first to simply offer a cleaning service, washing cars for the rich. And it went on from there. Next he started to sell petrol, and learnt to repair cars, and so on. Before long he was one of the richest people around.

What has changed since those heady days of the 1920s? Actually, nothing! The reaction will be the same as it was when the car challenged the horse for supremacy:

#Some will dismiss it as a passing fad that cannot challenge something so well established;

# Some will shrug their shoulders in fear;

# Others will be excited by new products, as consumers;

# Others will demand action from politicians to stop the “threat”;

# Others will see conspiracies by unseen forces to make them poor;

# Others will start looking for opportunities that could turn them into millionaires and billionaires…

__These are the entrepreneurs, just like that guy’s grandfather!

So what do YOU “see”? As I asked last week: Are you following tracks or creating new ones? The changing seasons call for both trackers and trail blazers.

Did you know that in the 1890s, the best-selling car in America was… an electric car, manufactured by a transportation pioneer called Colonel Albert Augustus Pope? (He was considered father of the American bicycle industry before the turn of that century).

“Who would willingly sit atop an explosion?” Pope reportedly asked about the internal combustion engine, at first… Meanwhile Henry Ford read the opportunity and market differently. The rest, as they say, is history. Or is it?

Now more than 100 year later, it’s the oil-powered motor car that will soon fade into the sunset. Yes, it will be gone inside 25 years!

Every single car manufacturer is rushing to introduce its own electric versions. Others are joining in, too. It’s like an arms race out there. Tesla, a company founded by an African, is leading the charge and making Elon Musk insanely rich!

__The electric car will come to Africa and I am ready for it. I have found my little niche in that game, and I’m not telling anyone… not even you my friend!

The “young-old” like me are seeing breathtaking opportunities. What about you? Are you carefully studying the changing environment, as all good rangers must? What by-products do you see?

There has never been a time such as now for entrepreneurs! (But as I said last week, success sometimes takes a lot of patience)…

“My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it,” said Nikola Tesla in 1919. “It was too far ahead of time. But the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success.”

Wow. Ever heard the expression “Hitch your wagon to a star…” ? Let’s talk.

To be continued. . .

by 8 Replies

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.

8 thoughts on “The Lion and the Ranger (Part 3)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The Apostle Paul once said: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” There’s always a need to update our mindsets, and how we “see” things that we have held onto for a long time. The same Apostle once said, “If you can see something, it is subject to change.”

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    “We will not leave the age of oil because we ran out of oil, in the same way we did not leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones” said the economist Paul Collier. “Innovation is what will end the oil age.”

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    Only about three weeks ago, the CEO of Ford Motor Company announced it was reducing capital expenditures on internal combustion engines by ONE THIRD and redeploying that capital into electrification! (This on top of an earlier $4.5bn investment). According to Ford’s head of global operations, this will likely mean an assembly area about half the size, and a 30% reduction in labor, per car.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    “Progress is a new season and the rule of progress is everything in its season,” said Henry Ford in 1923. Years later in 1935, Ford revealed in an interview: “Although Mr. Edison was called ‘The Wizard’ of the electrical world and everyone thought that electricity was the coming thing, he actually encouraged me to go with my second car.” You will learn a lot from reading biographies of such men, including Nikola Tesla, an inventor who briefly worked with Thomas Edison.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 5.
    One of my engineering teams asked to enter a competition to build a civilian drone which could carry at least 60 kg around Mount Kilimanjaro (and that was a few years ago…) Where do you think it will go? And most importantly, what opportunities do YOU see? Don’t give me an answer here (unless you are foolish). Go out and do something to make YOU a billionaire. (If you don’t someone else will!)

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    There is a village in Nigeria called Sagamu. It is the birth place of Antony Joshua’s mother, and he considers it his village. We are hoping to set up a special viewing center so that they can watch the live fight between him and Takam on Saturday evening!
    They will join an expected 100m viewers who will watch the fight in 22 African countries.
    We have set in motion all our platforms to ensure anyone in those 22 countries can see this fight.
    Remember both Joshua and Takam are of African descent. They love the continent.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *