By 2025, the African continent will account for one-fifth of the world’s population and by 2050, the African population will have doubled. The working-age population of growth regions such as Latin America and Southeast Asia are growing at a rate of 1.3% and 1.2% respectively, whereas as Africa is growing at more than double the rate at 2.7%. According to a Mckinsey report, it was found that by 2025 nearly two-thirds of the estimated 303 million African households will have a disposable income. The addition of nearly 90 million consumers by 2025 will increase the continents GDP growth from 4.9% today, to 6.2% in the next decade. This massive expansion of the consumer pool will be a result of the continents youth. 53% of income earners in Africa are between 16 and 34 years old. These consumers will contribute more than $400 billion in total consumption growth in the next decade.
The world’s first computer completed in 1946 weighed a whopping 50 tons, which is the same as eight full-grown African bush elephants and a calf. Today we walk around with mini computers in our pockets that makes that first computer look like a moss covered rock. Moores law states (in a roundabout way) that computer chips will get smaller and faster every year and so far this has been shown to be true. This means that the African continent has the potential of going from 0 to 60 mph faster and cheaper than all others before it. A single Apple iPhone 5 has 2.7 times the processing power of the 1985 Cray-2 supercomputer. To put this in perspective, what the United States of America accomplished over a couple of hundred years, Africa could do in a couple of decades.
I believe that Africa is about to break out of her cycle of destruction. I can speak with certainty because i am that change, me and millions others like me. We are the African diaspora youth.
It was a wet and cold November evening, the same as the day before, and the day before that. The year is 2009 and I am heading to my university library. After walking across a rain soaked field, through the secret passage between the playground and bushes, I reach my destination. I enter the big library doors and get an empathetic embrace by the warmth therein. I head toward the top floor, towards the big computer room. Unsurprisingly as I enter the room, it is almost empty. The only people being a very serious looking man in the corner with two Redbulls at his side and a group of African men at the front all working away in unison. There were five of them, all typing away. It intrigued me, because two of them I had never seen and the others I didn’t assume were ‘library types’. As I sat down next to the ones I knew, I asked one why they were in the library on a day like this and he told me to my utmost surprise “because we are trying to start a business in Nigeria”, it turned out they had chosen that day to send out emails en masse. The business had to do with the mobile industry, the specifics escapes me. Fascinating though, that in our societies nooks and crannies there are young African men plotting and planning.
As I speak to young African men and women educated here in Europe, whether they be from East or West Africa, I always hear of their desire to ‘go back one day’ and start something. Their last hurdles being to gain relevant experience and accumulating capital. These young men and women will lead the coming African Brain Gain.
Globalisation and the rise of the internet has led to a ‘hive mind’ amongst young Africans. We watch the same tv-shows, we listen to the same music, follow the same celebrities on Instagram and wear the same clothes. Africa already has as many cities with one million inhabitants as Europe and by 2025, almost half of all Africans will be living in cities. The increasing population density and the rise of mobile communication means that anybody that decides to ‘go back one day’ will find customers and consumers at their doorstep.
As I said to my cousin as we were sitting on one of Djibouti’s many sandy beaches enjoying a cold fanta, “we are not that different you and I. We are the new Africa”.