Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, has never been a typical tech founder. A humble billionaire who does not flaunt his wealth, Dorsey is known for an eccentric and nomadic lifestyle that takes him to locations around the world.
Recently, Dorsey's travels took him to took him to Africa on a mission to meet with entrepreneurs and, apparently, explore the business opportunities.
Headed to Africa for all of November! Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. Going to spend a lot of time with entrepreneurs, including @betelhem_dessie @noelkudu @GETNETASEFFA! pic.twitter.com/PcLCw8LZwr-- jack (@jack) October 4, 2019
During the trip, he met with tens of entrepreneurs, as his Twitter feed shows, and while leaving this week made an announcement that he anticipates returning in to Africa to live for three to six months next year.
Sad to be leaving the continent...for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I'll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part. pic.twitter.com/9VqgbhCXWd-- jack (@jack) November 27, 2019
Why is Dorsey so interested in Africa?
Africa has long been overlooked by companies with global interests, and in particular tech companies, because of the severe lack of infrastructure and underdeveloped markets. Consider, for example, that over 74 percent of African countries rank in the bottom half in worldwide ranking for per capita GDP (WEForum.org), 25.5 million people living with HIV (Avert.org), and one-third of adults in sub-Saharan Africa cannot read or write (UNESCO.org).
With that said, Africa also has unlocked potential. Consider these signs for optimism:
- The continent is home to 15 percent of the world's population, over 1.2 billion people.
- Africa is expected to have the world's largest working-age population of 1.1 billion by 2034 (WEForum.org)
- One third of Africa is considered middle class (afdb.org), and more than a billion Africans are expected to join them by 2060.
Also, several tech companies, including Facebook and Google, are trying to make affordable and reliable internet available to the entire continent, and more and more people are now able to own cheap smartphones. As internet access becomes more readily available, you can count on more Africans taking their destiny into their own hands with the ability to learn and apply new skills and technologies.
And if you need more evidence for the promise of Africa, look no further than China's efforts to establish relationships with governments, including Alibaba's agreement with Ethiopia to develop a new trade platform, and the Russia-Africa Summit this past October.
Africa has a long way to go before it becomes a significant business influence on the global stage, but as we have seen by the rapid growth in China, and the promising growth in India, the continent has the ingredients to progress rapidly. Big tech billionaires, like Jack Dorsey and Jack Ma, see it, and it won't be long before Africa is on everyone's radar.