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Why be an entrepreneur in Africa?

Updated on April 6, 2016

What promising markets are there for entrepreneurs in Africa today?

There are a number of markets of interest to entrepreneurs on the African continent. You could choose to start your business in the food and restaurant industry for example. Another promising sector is, of course, construction. According to the OECD, African infrastructure should benefit from more €50 billion euros of investment each year during the next decade. You can also bet on e-commerce, because if today the African sector represents only 2% of global online sales , eMarketer estimates that this market will explode in the coming years. The environmental sector will also experience exponential growth, particularly in the field of renewable energies. Do you want to start a franchise? This is a great idea, because it's a sector that promises to have a bright future. The African middle class is continuously expanding (34% of the continental population today, 42% in 46 years), and they're looking for home appliances and products that increase comfort. In the area of telecommunications and internet the possibilities for entrepreneurs are enormous, with experts are predicting growth of 3.5% this year on the African continent. Finally, there are also a number of opportunities for entrepreneurs in the clothing industry, particularly when it comes to importing.

What type of activity should you undertake?

The choice of activity obviously depends on the market that you want to do business in. In the restaurant sector, for example, you can opt for French cuisine, as a number of establishments already do in Dakar, Marrakesh or Abidjan. Or, you can differentiate yourself by focusing on African cuisine, relatively undervalued up until now. In construction and civil engineering, the opportunities are huge, especially if you are subcontracting for large international groups. In the environmental sector, consider in particular the market for wind turbines; almost 10 GW of wind power capacity needs to be installed by 2020 in several African countries, including Eritrea, Lesotho and Chad. With regards to franchises, kitchen specialists in particular are enjoying great success, and are experiencing strong growth on the continent. Make the most of it! Lastly, if you are interested in the clothing sector, let yourself be inspired by the success of Iby Fashion, importer of the world's largest ready-to-wear fashion labels to Chad.

What skills are needed to be an entrepreneur?

To successfully start a business in Africa, you shouldn't undertake it lightly. A strong background is required to ensure the success of your business. You'll need to be equipped with a finely-honed entrepreneurial spirit, but also show yourself to be tenacious to convince your partners, and be able to persevere despite the obstacles. You also need to be comfortable with risks, knowing how to recognize them and face them in full possession of the facts, rather than letting them control you. Another quality any successful entrepreneur must have is the ability to make the right decisions at the right time. And among the many qualities required, a large capacity for work will be the difference between you and your competitors. Know how to surround yourself with good people, each experts in their field (e.g. marketing, communication, accounting, human resources), to give your business the best chance of success.

As you can see, the opportunities for entrepreneurs in Africa are extensive. It's up to you to assess both potential markets and your entrepreneurial capabilities to establish yourself successfully on African soil.

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