The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is poised to become the largest free trade area in world. According to EY, ‘if executed according to plan, the agreement will boost economic growth, produce employment, create and improve infrastructure, and foster positive socio-cultural externalities that usually emanate from economic connectedness and integration’.

The AfCFTA gives access to trade across over 50 countries with a combined total GDP of US$2+ trillion, but what does this mean to you and your business? How do you break this down to create relevant growth opportunities for your business? And how do you get access to the right key decision makers?

Having worked in the business intelligence industry for over 20 years in the UAE, I’ve been lucky enough to witness the rise of the nation and seen how intelligent data analysis and forecasting can play a huge role in shaping an economy, its people and its societies.

The UAE has seen rapid growth over the past 20 years alone. Trusted business intelligence has supported the foundations of the growth and given many businesses, both international and local start-ups, the data they need to analyse markets, connect with people and forecast the future.

This model is one that can be replicated and adapted to support the growth of the African markets, to work alongside initiatives like AfCFTA.

In Africa, it’s often hard to see past the legacy of colonialism, exploited resources – both natural and human – and the perceived risk of doing business in this part of the world. But the global shift and advancement in digitalisation brings a whole new dynamic to the enormity of what Africa has to offer.

With a higher ratio of mobile to landline connections due to the investment required to install landlines, people are more connected now than ever before, giving them the freedom to access information and an unlimited supply of inspiration. This is forcing governments and regulatory bodies to adapt and develop their infrastructure and ICT to keep up with demand.

But just how much should they develop? How does this then impact other sectors? And how can you help?

It’s often difficult to get access to validated and trusted data in Africa. It’s a place where stigma has reigned, forcing people to live in the past when all they want to do is be present and explore what the future has to offer. But it’s encouraging to see these stigmas slowly subsiding to make way for more openness and transparency, that will allow Africa to compete on a global scale. And I truly believe that the time to invest in Africa is now.

What if I told you that by 2050, we predict that the total population in Africa is going to increase by 51%? Just imagine what’s needed for that population to not only survive, but to thrive. From transport links to residential communities, business hubs to tourist attractions. Add power, water and financial services to the equation and we’re looking at trillions of dollars of investment opportunities. While this figure is conservative in its nature, it’s also a realisation of how things are going to progress over the next 30 years.

By building a strong and dependable eco-system that gives businesses and organisations the data they need to make informed decisions about entering and expanding in markets, we can predict demand, connect you to the right people and support the development of a place that really does have an enormous amount of potential.

I believe the future of my home continent is an open book just waiting to be written, influenced and developed, successfully. And I for one, am already excited about its future.

Emil is ABiQ’s managing director. Get in touch to chat with him directly.

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