Entrepreneurial spirit is the way forward for Africa

  • Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
    "Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of any vibrant economy."

Commentary by the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State, Department for International Development

Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of any vibrant economy. It is the motor that drives investment, job creation and economic growth. Throughout history, sustained, job-creating growth has played the greatest role in lifting huge numbers of people out of grinding poverty. It is entrepreneurship that delivers the life-changing progress that comes from growth in developed economies, and it is entrepreneurship that is beginning to deliver the same in Africa.

Companies to Inspire Africa showcases some outstanding stories of innovation, bravery and growth across the continent. It brings Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit to an international audience, and I would like to congratulate all the companies featured for their vision, ambition and tenacity. It is their success that will drive Africa forward to a future of prosperity, and away from a reliance on international aid.

The scale of the challenge is unprecedented: Africa’s population is set to double by 2050, and as many as 18 million extra jobs a year will be needed. However, I firmly believe that entrepreneurial spirit can turn this challenge into a demographic dividend for Africa, provided the conditions are right. Access to finance is a significant constraint for many companies across Africa and there is a severe shortage of private investment into the continent’s most productive, high-growth companies.

It is here that the UK can play an instrumental role. Over the past year, for example, the UK government’s development finance institution, CDC Group, invested in businesses in developing countries which created more than a million jobs.

Yet the UK is not simply one of the world’s largest supporters of international development. As the leading financial centre globally, it is home to an unrivalled depth of capital and expertise. The City of London has the world’s deepest and most liquid pool of capital, the greatest breadth of investors and the most internationally focused markets. I believe that the City of London can, and should, establish itself as the global financial centre for the developing world, and the primary conduit for private capital to finance economic development.

Britain is an outward-looking and global trading nation: building stable, prosperous economies in developing countries is firmly in our national interest. As we forge stronger alliances with the world’s fastest-growing economies, the City of London will be at the heart of our offer to promote global growth and shared prosperity.

This report shines a light on some inspiring stories that highlight the way forward for Africa’s economies: it is fantastic to see London Stock Exchange Group at the forefront of promoting this success and laying the foundations for future growth.