Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution that is invigorating the region with new opportunities, increased employment, and a robust rise in gross domestic product to one of the highest in the world, according to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Sub-Saharan African Regional Report launched this week in Lusaka, Zambia.
Africa’s real GDP rose by 4,9 percent from 2000 to 2008, more than twice that of the 1980s and 1990s. In 2012, six of the ten economies studied in this region, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, and Zambia reported GDP growth rates of 5 percent or higher (as high as 8.5 percent for Ethiopia). Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are becoming less reliant on raw material mineral extraction and agriculture and moving toward high technology innovations. The telecommunications, banking and retail sectors are flourishing. Construction is booming and private investment inflows are surging.
“The entrepreneurial landscape in sub-Saharan Africa is changing rapidly and the region is now becoming a mecca for business development and growth,” remarked Mike Herrington, lead author of the report and GEM Executive Director and Professor at University of Cape Town, South Africa. “Opportunities abound and a positive sprit is emerging amongst the population of these countries.”
“Entrepreneurs in the Sub-Saharan nations have among the highest entrepreneurship rates in the world, with women participating at equal or nearly equal rates in most of the countries we studied in this region,” commented the GEM Report’s co-author, Donna J. Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College. “This shows an incredible ability for people here to create their own jobs, and in many cases, jobs for others. As a result, entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa can contribute substantially toward providing income for families and lifting communities out of poverty.”
GEM academic teams oversee surveys of demographically representative samples of the adult population in their countries, analyzing societal attitudes about entrepreneurship, how many individuals are participating in entrepreneurship at various phases of the process, profiles of the entrepreneurs and their businesses, their motivations for starting, and their future ambitions for their businesses.