Five years ago, Toyin Umesiri’s trip to Africa for a family emergency ended up being pivotal and profoundly impactful to her life. She returned to the states with a resolve and commitment to leverage her years of experience, networking, unique trading skills, and career working for a leading global brand, Walmart Corp., to support Africa’s quest for sustainable economic transformation.
“With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) entering into force, there is a repositioning of the continent that disrupts the old way of engaging with its individual nations.” –Toyin Umesiri
Today, Umesiri owns and operates Nazaru, a business services company founded in 2016 that connects the world to Africa through products, trade events, market-entry, trade facilitation, consulting, and training. She serves as the founder of the acclaimed Trade with Africa Business Summit where she convenes business and political community leaders engaging in commerce across the African continent. Nazaru showcases the strengths that Africa has to offer buyers, sellers, investors, and corporate business leaders looking to partner or invest in the continent.
According to Umesiri, some people may wonder what good can emerge from a continent that has a history filled with war and famine. Forging ahead, this can no longer be a blind perception and blanketed misconception of a burgeoning continent that is loaded with multifaceted treasure and amassed value to offer to the world.
“The new and emerging Africa is filled with hard working men and women, young and old, focused on positioning themselves for a greater future.” –Toyin Umesiri
BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Umesiri about her ardent charge as a global influencer and sharing strategic insights in how Africa is reshaping the global economic landscape:
SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION
The global buying community has been disrupted by the ongoing U.S.–China “trade war” and they are now seeking alternative sources of supply to realign for future purchases and deals. From cocoa in Cote D’Ivoire, cashews from Nigeria, gold in Ghana, to diamonds in the Congo. Africa has always been the originating source for raw commodities and the rest of the world has vastly benefited and been powered from her wealth of resources.
Now, Africa is rapidly seeking new and innovative ways to power itself with its own resources. In the future, entire value chains and industries will emerge throughout the continent creating wealth for its people and those who choose to invest.
With Africa owning 60% of the remaining arable land in the world, agile agricultural initiatives would help create a brighter future for the region. The missing ingredient has traditionally been about value addition. Therefore, to drive solutions, sustainable agriculture conversations have increased immensely and investments in the agriculture value chain are growing to ensure that Africa, for example, not only plays in the cocoa business but is profitably represented in the chocolate industry as a whole.
Contrary to popular belief, Africa does not have the same limitations in new technology adoption and adaption that some parts of the western world struggle with. For example, the region will leapfrog into 5G technology full speed ahead of many global counterparts. While other regions are seeking business cases for technology adoption, some African countries are quickly taking these concepts mainstream. From drone technology adoption in Rwanda to Kenya leading the world in digital payment processing. These technological innovations—and more on the rise—create unique advantages for economic infrastructure and empowerment.
Did you know that Africa’s population is projected to double from 1.2 billion to 2.2 billion by 2050?
While the rest of the world is struggling with an aging population, Africa’s youth population sits at 60% to 70% and will continue to grow. For example, Nigeria’s current population is estimated at 200 million and is projected to become the world’s third most populated country next to China and India by 2050. These projections will present opportunities and challenges such as security and immigration challenges if not managed properly. Regions with current inadequacies in food distribution would become more strained. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interests to put plans in place and initiatives to drive productivity across the continent. One smart way to solve this potential problem is to rapidly galvanize the energy of the youth to power innovation and manufacturing.
Africa is poised to become the manufacturing capital of the future. With labor costs steadily increasing in China and the saturation they are facing, manufacturing has begun rapidly shifting to the region. Centrally located, Africa has a geographical advantage and is well-positioned to serve the world faster and cheaper. Also, with the AFCFTA, manufacturing products for a growing and emerging middle class is a no-brainer from a supply and demand perspective. For example, the demand for baby products would rise as the projected population rises.
Continued conversations and coverage will be addressed at the virtual Trade with Africa Business Summit on August 7-8. Business leaders, trade experts, investors, and policymakers will convene for a vibrant trade and economic discussion hub themed: “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Retail and Infrastructure Development in Africa.”