Among the many remarkable takeaways in his book, Success in Africa: CEO Insights from a Continent on the Rise, Jonathan Berman’s observations on the continent’s workforce might be the most thought provoking. “The absolute growth rate in adult workers, combined with the world’s lowest dependency ratio, basically means Africa is going to become the world’s workplace,” he predicts.
By 2035, Africa’s working-age population (ages 15 to 64) will surpass China’s; by 2040, India’s, making Africa’s the world’s largest labor force. Meanwhile, owing to high mortality among earlier generations, today’s young Africans will mature into a working class less burdened by elder dependents than most Western and Asian societies. That likely means they’ll have more disposable income. They’ll be more mobile. And they’ll demand vast amounts of education, equipment and other types of enablement over the course of their working lives.
“It’s an opportunity provided you offer products and services that help those workers be productive,” Berman says. “Putting productivity-enhancing tools in their hands. As well as providing the power grid and other infrastructure to help them make and move goods out the door. That’s where the big opportunity lies.”