Africa growth/start-up research: Private equity and VC professionals say improved connectivity and digital skills are key to African start-ups

  • More than four out of five VC and private equity investors expect an entrepreneurial boom in the next three years and 81% believe the value of start-ups will more than double
  • 60% warn lack of digital skills is holding back start-ups while 42% expect dramatic improvements in internet connectivity

Venture capital (VC) and private equity investors are predicting an entrepreneurial boom in Africa but warn a lack of digital skills and poor internet connectivity is holding back start-up businesses on the continent, new research for blockchain-based mobile network operator World Mobile shows (please see the attached press release).

More than four out of five (81%) of senior executives at venture capital and private equity companies questioned predict a rise in entrepreneurialism in African over the next three years, with nearly half (47%) expecting a dramatic increase.

They believe that if that happens it will feed through into an increase in the value of start-ups on the continent – currently start-ups are valued at around $7.6 billion – around 0.2% of the total $3.8 trillion value of start-ups globally. Failure to improve connectivity, however, will put a brake on growth.

Around 91% of the senior VC and private equity executives questioned across the UK, US, the Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, and Germany believe that start-up value will more than double over the next five years as long as the business environment continues to improve.

Around six out of 10 (60%) say a lack of digital skills is currently a major block to developing a start-up culture while more than half (53%) warn about limited funding and 25% say poor internet connectivity makes it hard to start new businesses.

They are optimistic about improvements – around two out of five (42%) expect dramatic improvements in internet connectivity while 44% expect slight improvements. Around 78% expect funding to improve and 86% believe the digital skills gap on the continent will close.

More than half of those questioned (52%) believe improvements in internet connectivity will drive the rise in entrepreneurial spirit in Africa while two-thirds (65%) are confident the business environment will continue to improve.