The population of sub-Saharan Africa is approximately 1.06 billion. Remarkably, 77% of this billion are under the age of 35.
That means 770 million sub-Saharan Africans under the age of 35 exist today and they are going to be a hugely influential demographic in the years to come. Especially when it comes to business.
A Youthful Population
There are advantages and disadvantages to having a youthful population. One of the key challenges faced by African nations in the coming years will be overcoming the challenges and taking advantage of the benefits.
Some of the benefits include:
- A growing market for manufactured products.
- A large tax base for the continent due to the bigger workforce.
- The chance to develop an interconnected, educated community of young people.
Having a young population is very favourable to investors and can lead to the creation of millions of new jobs. If managed correctly, African nations can use their youthful populations to create a demographic dividend and boost economic development.
Some of the potential disadvantages include:
- A strain on education and healthcare services.
- Potential youth unemployment in the future.
- Increase in infant mortality rates.
If managed incorrectly, a youthful population can occasionally cause issues in certain areas of development. One of the key issues for African governments will be managing the education system so that all young people can get an adequate level of education.
It is likely that these challenges will shape the policies of African nations in the next decade.
How will this affect business?
It is predicted that in 2050, the youth population of Africa will be more than double the size of the youth in any other region. If the health and education of this demographic have been appropriately invested in, African businesses will reap the benefits.
Firstly, there will be larger numbers of educated, skilled workers which will allow businesses to expand their operations and benefit from the new ideas of the youthful generation. The added income of this younger generation will lead to an economic boom and generate more income for African businesses.
In Kenya particularly, the 15-24 age range is 20% larger than the global average. With sustained growth and investment, Kenyan businesses will be able to take advantage of the economic potential of this active workforce.
The Mara SmartPhone is a good example of how a growing economy combined with a vibrant African youth can lead to huge strides for business in Africa. In an article from a few months ago, we discuss how the SmartPhone was the result of African, and global cooperation and will be rolled out to the youthful populations of the entire continent.
Secondly, investment in Africa’s youth will lead to increased urbanisation and the development of interconnected economic hubs in the major cities of Africa. This phenomenon will bring with it many more challenges and issues that African governments will have to address. However, urban-dwellers on average earn far more than rural subsistence farmers and this added income will be a huge benefit to new African ventures.
The Filing Room
In the case of archiving businesses like The Filing Room, this youthful population will be the drivers of huge amounts of growth. These young people will be the ones opening new bank accounts, purchasing car insurance and medical insurance. The effects of this are clear already.
The recent acquisition of Barclays Bank Africa by Absa, and Shield Assurance by Prudential, show the direction Kenya is heading in. The sheer quantity of official documents produced by these businesses will hopefully lead to sustained growth in the archiving industry.
Time will tell as to how the youthful population of sub-Saharan Africa will turn out, but in this new globalised era, the future is bright for leading African economies like Kenya.