Kizito Okechukwu, the co-chairperson of GEN Africa. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - On May 25, 1963, Africa made history by establishing the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union), which brought the continent together. This led to the creation of Africa Day on May 25, an annual celebration of the continent’s identity and unity across the world, particularly in Africa.

The AU Agenda 2063

The AU’s Agenda 2063 is to lead Africa towards the “Africa we want”; one with a more prosperous future in which all its citizens, young, old, male, female, rural, urban, of all creeds and backgrounds, are empowered to realise their full potential, live with satisfaction and pride about their continent; a future with healthy, well-educated people living in robust and developed economies. Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 particularly talks of “an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women, youth and caring for children”.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa fully embraces the ideals of Agenda 2063. For example, 22 On Sloane, the GEN’s innovative start-up campus, offers disruptive start-ups and innovative SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, source funding opportunities and access to markets.

Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure their sustainability, explore development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

After two years of negotiations, one of the AU’s flagship projects for greater African integration is now a reality. To further solidify the continent’s collaborative efforts to strengthen economic prowess, and in so doing empower its people more, 44 African countries recently signed the historic trade agreement to open the paths to a liberalised market across the continent.

Known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the agreement follows the EU’s version and was signed this year during the 10th ordinary session of the AU Heads of State Summit, held in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

At the historic event, 19 presidents were present, as well as various prime ministers and government representatives to sign for their respective countries. The AfCFTA is now the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organisation was formed in 1995 and is expected to culminate in the creation of the almost $3trillion (R38.23 trillion) African trade bloc.

Key challenges for African start-ups

Though the African start-up ecosystem continues to advance, there are still a few challenges that hinder start-up growth on the continent. According to a recent study conducted by 22 On Sloane, here are some of the key challenges faced by African start-ups: inadequate analysis of the need; inadequate infrastructure; access to start-up financing; unfair competition by big business; and lack of targeted business support programmes.

Join GENAfrica to celebrate Africa Day

GEN Africa represents 42 countries on the continent with more than 1million networks within the ecosystem. We offer an exciting platform to encourage intra-continental trade by offering market research, access markets and entrepreneurship exchange programmes and technical skills, to name a few.

Please join us on Africa Day for an informal networking and drinks session with our resident start-ups, entrepreneurs and business chambers from across the continent and 20 MBA students from George Washington University. 

The networking is from 4pm to 6pm on Friday, May 25. Dress code is African attire. For more information on the 22 On Sloane Africa Day Networking session, please visit www.22onsloane.co.za

Kizito Okechukwu is the executive head of SEA Africa and co-chairperson of GEN Africa, 22 On Sloane. 22 On Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

- BUSINESS REPORT