Africa’s population is booming. Can the continent keep up?
Can Africa pay the price of it's astronomic growth?
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ICYMI, we just hosted a super fun session: Finance for Founders with Raise.
We ran a practical session on how founders can model out their revenue and make decisions on which business lines to prioritise. It had some great feedback. Catch it here.
Now, on that note.
Startups only have two options - grow or die.
No startup wants to die 💁🏾♂️ so it’s a race to growth and expansion.
Startups that enter new markets always have a better chance at survival, but it is not as easy as it sounds.
That’s why we’re teaming up with Tola of Norebase, and Adewale Yusuf of AltSchool for our next event: How to Launch a Global Startup
It’s for founders who want to learn what it takes to scale to the next level - on Wednesday, 27th of September.
Man, we are coming in with the goods. Alright - let’s dive into the edition!
Africa is buzzing with life right now.
It’s projected to double in size, reaching more than 2 billion people by 2050.
And who's leading the charge?
Its fastest growing countries and their cities.
These cities— Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa, and Addis Ababa— are set to become megacities, beating giants like Beijing, Mumbai, and Tokyo.
More people means a bigger consumer class, a lively young workforce, and an investment boom in Africa's future.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. This boom comes with its own set of challenges.
And if not fixed, these bugs could really mess up Africa’s code.
Today, we’re exploring the price of Africa’s astronomic growth.
Can the continent keep up? And which startups and initiatives are stepping up to take on these challenges?
Let’s dig in.
Long before its population surge, Infrastructure was already a pain in Africa.
According to McKinsey, Africa lags behind the world when it comes to key infrastructure, including roads, rail transport, and energy.
Over two-thirds (or about 600 million people) without electricity globally are in sub-Saharan Africa.
And when it comes to roads, the pinch is real
There’s not enough of them. And when there are, they’re not in great shape.
In Lagos, a commuter spends almost 30 hours a week in traffic. Do the math. That means almost 60 days are wasted every year.
It’s a real nightmare.
But Lagos, with its 24 million people, is Africa's largest and most crowded city.
And by 2100, it'll be world’s biggest.
To top it off, a whopping 40% of all cars in Nigeria are registered in Lagos.
So as the city's population and cars keep growing, people will spend more time on the road.
For businesses, this can mean sky-high logistics costs. For workers, it means hours of commute time before starting the day and after wrapping up. And for customers, it means delivery delays and expensive goods.
But Lagos is determined to solve its infrastructure problem
Last week, the Blueline mass transit metro launched in Lagos, ending decades of waiting.
Now, a 2-hour commute takes just twenty-five minutes. And what’s better?
This electric rapid transit line can move over 250,000 commuters every day.
Once done, this project will transport up to 500,000 people daily, offering a much-needed relief to Lagos' notorious traffic.
Nigeria joins other African cities in building electric train and tram lines to solve the Super City Commuting problem.
The Addis Ababa light rail, Eastern Africa's first electric commuter train, eases traffic in Ethiopia's capital by carrying up to 60,000 passengers across the city every hour.
And they’re not the only ones.
Electric trains are faster, more dependable, and save hours of time. Plus, cleaner transport means less pollution.
The electric train trend is a big win for Africa’s Super Cities
Africa’s public health care system is broken in different places.
First off, there’s a shortage of medical staff.
Only four African countries meet this mark: Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, and South Africa.
And it’s not just doctors.
Medical equipment and medicine are in short supply too.
In places like Zimbabwe, even basics like bandages, syringes, and painkillers are scarce in government hospitals.
And in Coastal Kenya, admitted patients sometimes share hospital beds
As these countries’ population numbers pile up, their healthcare systems might just crumble under the pressure of a rapidly growing population.
Improving Africa’s healthcare system comes with a price tag.
Currently, African countries spend between $8 to $129 per person on healthcare.
But that is nowhere near the $4,000-plus spent by wealthier nations.
But to be fair, Africa does not have a fat wallet.
The income per person is capped, and so are national budgets.
Throw in corruption in the mix, and yep, we’d be screwed if we waited on the government to sort it all out - with people’s wellbeing on the line.
So guess who’s trying to help?
In Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia, this startup is helping hospitals solve the challenge of blood and oxygen supply.
Meet Life Bank
Every two minutes, a mother loses her life to childbirth complications.
70% of these women are from Africa.
Life Bank, an on-demand blood delivery service, is tackling Africa’s blood shortage problem.
Here’s how it works.
- Hospitals order blood on LifeBank through their website, app, or on phone.
Hospitals order blood on LifeBank through their website, app, or on phone
LifeBank’s team of riders move blood from a ‘bloodbank’ and glide through traffic to get blood to hospitals on time.
Hospitals don’t need to wait days to receive blood. They can get it in just 45 minutes.
And now, they also deliver oxygen and medical consumables like syringes and needles across Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
These happen to be Africa’s fastest-rising countries, and most likely to be overwhelmed with healthcare.
Africa's not just big; it's also super young
In Kenya, about 84,000 graduates leave university for the job market every year.
In Nigeria, it’s 600,000.
With the young population booming, there's a growing need for jobs.
Yet, old-school careers can't keep up, and new industries are sprouting slowly.
This is where tech comes in
Africa’s young population is turning to tech to acquire skills, get jobs, and build startups.
And as remote work soars, global companies are eyeing Africa for talent.
And who’s making it all happen?
You guessed it - startups. Like these guys from Kenya:
Meet Moringa School
Today, what began as a class of four has grown into thousands.
They teach cohort-based and quick tech courses in fields like software engineering, cybersecurity, and data science.
Their courses take 5-6 months, and they offer financial aid too.
More than half of Moringa school alumni find employment within the first year of completion.
In Kenya, where as many as 2.97 million young people don’t have jobs, Moringa is an example of how startups are helping close the gap.
Africa contributes the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions (3.8%) today.
But this will go up as the population shoots upwards.
A higher population will demand more natural resources like water, land, and energy.
And as more people adopt modern lifestyles (like buying cars), emissions will shoot too.
In South Africa, there’s a startup solving for this:
Pathway Cycles is bringing electric bikes to South Africa, pioneering e-deliveries in its cities.
Their big goal? To shrink South Africa's carbon footprint by reducing emissions.
Electric bikes are super energy-efficient, using just a fraction of the energy needed to power a car or motorcycle for the same distance.
Plus, they produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, which is a big win for the environment.
Africa's population is on the rise.
That growing population means growing challenges in infrastructure, healthcare, unemployment and sustainability.
Fortunately, startups and the public sector are stepping up to the plate to tackle these problems.
Do you think the continent can keep up? Let me know.
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