Jack Dorsey is worth a cool $4.3 Billion so you’d think he’d be spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding where to go for his holidays next year: all those Trump Twitter feeds have done wonders to improve his brand, even if Donald’s ravings have also exposed Twitter and other Social Media platforms to criticism for promoting a rising tide of witlessness and intolerance. But Jack Dorsey is pushing back, recently signalling a Twitter wide ban on political advertising and completing a high profile tour of Africa that took him to Nigeria, Ethiopia as well as Ghana and worked wonders in enhancing his reputation for global awareness. So where’s he going for his holidays next year? …Mr. Dorsey’s going to Africa.
But this will be a working holiday …
Like a lot of other industry leaders, most recently George Soros, Jack Dorsey has woken up to the huge potential of sub-Saharan Africa.
In Ethiopia last November he spent time listening to tech start-up pitches and in Ghana met a number of Bitcoin entrepreneurs, all of which fits in nicely with future planning for Twitter’s new Square payments app (currently making the most of the well-publicised defections from Facebook’s Libra including MasterCard, Visa, eBay). In fact, the convergence of the continent’s technology ambitions with Mr. Dorsey’s own plans for the future may be of considerable importance for both of them.
Sub Saharan Africa is currently undergoing explosive technological growth, with the promise of more to come. GSMA, One of the territory’s leading mobile services group reported this year that there are no fewer than 618 “active tech hubs” on the continent, which is an increase of 48% over the last year. Nigeria comes in top of the list with 85 active hubs, so small wonder then that Dorsey made it his first port of call last November. He may look like a seventeen-year-old nerd who’s lost his razor, but this is a man who knows a good business opportunity when he sees it.
And bear this in mind too: sub-Saharan Africa is also one of the most under-banked territories in the world. The World Bank’s Global Findex Report found last year that 62% of the region’s adult population doesn’t have any form of a bank account. When you take into account too that Africa is home to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world (Ghana), with a consumption hungry middle-class population forecast to grow from 39% to 43% over the next ten years and spending £1.9 Trillion annually by 2030, that’s a huge amount of money to move around with almost two-thirds of its residents unbanked.
This is precisely the opportunity Jack Dorsey hopes to build on and he’s unlikely to get much rest when he comes back to Africa later this year. He’ll be selling the virtues of the Square platform and he’ll be right to do so.
Because you shouldn’t run away with the idea this is all about finding new playgrounds for the superrich. These types of initiative really do matter for Africa too, just take one example: following the 2015 launch of BitHub, the Ethiopian Government now predicts that its domestic tech sector will be likely to create no less than 3 million new jobs by the end of the year, and that’s a major step forward for a country historically beset by famine and deprivation.
Ethiopia was also one of the countries Jack Dorsey visited last November…
The SLC African Fund aims to build on the opportunities offered by sub-Saharan African Markets and deliver long term capital growth as well as income distribution: working to solve social and environmental challenges and at the same time deliver sustainable profits for investors.
At Red Ribbon we have long been aware of Africa’s immense potential for resilient and robust economic growth, and not least of the benefits that this can bring for the peoples of sub-Saharan territories. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of the SLC African Fund and why I’m so glad to learn that others like Jack Dorsey are now waking up to Africa’s full potential as well.
This is a time of great change for Africa and the more support and involvement in its future the better. It’s good to do things together.