Why Black Americans should invest in Africa.
"America was never built for black people", says Akon.
The American-born with Senegalese roots believes now is a good time to invest in Africa because of bountiful returns to be made.
Akon says “if you guys are not investing you are literally missing the opportunity. By the time you figure it out, it will be too late.”
The 47-year-old tells anyone who cares to listen that the opportunity is ripe to invest as property value in Africa keeps rising, stressing “whatever dollar or pound you have, you need to buy land in Africa as soon as possible.”
Today, Akon has his hand in a bevy of investments—notably, his energy company, Akon Lighting Africa; the Akonik Label Group, and his forthcoming crypto city—powered by the businessman’s very own cryptocurrency, the Akoin.
When most people look at Africa, all they see are problems and challenges: hunger, disease, unemployment, illiteracy, waste, financial exclusion, inadequate electricity, and a long list of others. Strangely, while most people are irritated and frustrated by these problems, the entrepreneurs who are building a fortune and impacting lives in Africa are excited and inspired by those same problems.
Because they see problems differently, the entrepreneurs who are succeeding in Africa apply their creativity and innovation to solve tough problems in a way that makes money, creates jobs, and positively impacts people’s lives.
All of them are actually succeeding because they see Africa differently. Africa is a market that overwhelmingly rewards problem-solvers. Therefore, the bigger the problems you can solve, the higher the potential rewards you get.
“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”—James Baldwin
Recent police killings and the trauma that they create prove Akon's words that "America was not built for black people". African Americans should start to plan for the long term, tracing their roots, have dual citizenship, invest in Africa so tomorrow they can have a place to fall back to. The Jews have been doing the same, investing in Israel.
During the hype of “Black Panther,” we were talking on how to unlock Africa’s potential to African-American professionals, community, and business leaders. Many of them asked how they could help make Africa as successful as the imaginary Wakanda. In other words, where are the opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relations between Africa and African Americans?
EDUCATIONAL, RECREATIONAL, AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
Black people around the world, particularly in the U.S., have much to contribute to Africa because the continent’s tourism industry has so much potential. In 2015, tourism generated $39.2 billion and created 9.1 million direct jobs in Africa. But tourism not only benefits Africa’s growing economies, it can also be personally fulfilling to those who travel.
Tourism allows people to celebrate the history and culture of their ancestors by visiting their homelands, enjoying the culture, and building connections with the people and the physical space. Pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Maya Angelou have led the way in reconnecting with Africa, followed by influencers such as Oprah Winfrey, Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Steve Harvey, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Will Smith, and Rihanna, to name a few. But you do not need to be a celebrity or influencer to visit Africa.
Marketing campaigns have typically targeted white, affluent Europeans and Americans who are easily fascinated by safaris in Kenya, riding camels in the Sahara, hunting for wild game, or exploring West African beaches; although these experiences are not off-limits to African-Americans, they may be more interested in cultural heritage sites. The number of African-Americans visiting Africa is increasing, but many more should make the journey. Indeed, all people of African descent—and everyone else—should visit the continent at one time in their life. Planning the trip is easier now than ever with the advent of the internet and social media and great destination suggestions from National Geographic and others. And one trip usually will not be enough for the African diaspora, as the continent’s culture and history are rich and complex.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
Africa has six of the 10 fastest-growing markets and the fastest-growing population in the world. By 2030, Africa will be home to 1.7 billion people and $6.7 trillion of combined consumer and business spending. African-Americans have the opportunity for highly profitable investments while contributing to Africa’s economic growth. In fact, Africa has more than 400 companies with annual revenues of more than $1 billion. In a period of global economic stagnation, African countries are continuing to work toward closing gaps in infrastructure, creating jobs, decreasing poverty, and increasing domestic production of goods and services to fulfill Africans’ demand. As investment in the continent grows as well, more countries are gaining access to global supply chains and exporting demand for goods and inputs from Africa.
The nearly 2.6 million African-American-owned businesses in the U.S. could partner with their fellow American entrepreneurs from other ethnicities to find a tremendous market, investment, and sourcing opportunities in Africa. Americans’ growing appreciation of African consumer goods—such as clothing, music, jewelry, food and beverages, and art—is one method of supporting African economies. Many U.S. entrepreneurs are already capitalizing on the high demand for American products such as industrial equipment, motors and vehicles, agricultural and agro-industry equipment and products, technology-related consumer goods, hair, body-care and pharmaceutical products, mining and extractive industry products, clothing, and packaging, among others.
Africans know that development will come from investment, not aid. New entrepreneurs and investors should seek out goods and services that originate from the continent and are in demand in the U.S., then establish supply chains or wholesale retail connections between the U.S. and Africa.
KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNOLOGY SHARING AND ADVANCEMENT OF US-AFRICA RELATIONS
Many African-Americans have made significant contributions to the world with innovative ideas and technologies—clothes dryers, the lawnmower, and the pacemaker are just a few examples. Many innovators on the continent and collaborations between African and African-American innovators have the potential to advance African development on several levels. African-Americans who have had varying experiences with education in the U.S. may be best suited to take up the mantle of investment in education and innovation in Africa.
Within the opportunities for trade and investment, education systems throughout the continent would benefit from the American experience and brands in leading world-class universities. This exchange of knowledge, wealth, and technology can go both ways to equally benefit black Americans and Africans.
With 1.7 billion people by 2030, Africa will need to innovate to address some of its most critical challenges—education, energy, health, nutrition, infrastructure, and technology—and this starts with education, research, and development
Do you know who is investing big time in Africa? The Chinese. They are planning for the long term, developing strategic foothold on the continent, simple because Africa is the future.