On the 30th May 2019, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be launched creating the largest economic region in the world. It has the potential to be a great economic power block. The region has over 1.2 billion people and $4 trillion in spending and investment (according to WEF). The 54 countries will create opportunities for entrepreneurs but integration can sky rocket this further.
Just like the start of the European Union (EU), only 22 of the 54 countries including Egypt and South Africa have signed up, but not the largest economy in the region; Nigeria. The European Union is a classic example, the UK was not one of the founding members, so by the time it joined, it always felt like a reluctant bride dragged to the alter.
Opening up the continent will create several opportunities. Trading can be done to protect the smaller economies whilst dealing with more powerful partners. AfCFTA must avoid making the biggest economies feel as if they are funding others. There must be mutual benefits for all with care taken not to turn economic integration into a political one that others may feel uncomfortable with.
There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to be excited about these new development. Africa with some of the fastest growing economies provide opportunities for all. Look at transport, free movement of people and goods, sustainability, climate changes, infrastructure provision etc. Finding solutions to these issues do not have to be new ideas, they just have to be ideas that can be adapted to suit local conditions.
More than 60% of people are still employed in the informal sector and there are still opportunities to provide education, training, consultancy and support for small businesses. The logistics of navigating the continent provides opportunities as well, including tourism and transportation.
Providing genuine and last solution
People are always looking for authentic African products, so why not be part of the solution. A trip and discussions with potential customers around the continent may provide entrepreneurs with ideas. Entrepreneurs provide solutions at a benefit, so don’t overlook any potential opportunities in your journeys. Be a part of the solution. Long term solutions are always better than quick fixes.
For more information, the World Economic Forum has more information