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Improves Connectivity and Digital Skills 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.

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.

World Mobile is one of the major innovators revolutionising internet connectivity in Africa and is already working with the government in Zanzibar. Its innovative solution includes launching a unique hybrid mobile network delivering connectivity supported by aerostats backed up with a range of technologies including mesh networking, hybrid spectrum, renewable energy, and blockchain. It plans to expand the network throughout the continent and is in discussions with government officials in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserviced by traditional mobile operators.

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “Entrepreneurialism is growing rapidly across Africa but the current value of start-ups on the continent is just 0.2% of the value of start-ups globally and could be much higher.

“Venture capital and private equity investors are clearly very optimistic about the future for start-ups but like in many countries they see potential roadblocks including lack of funding. Africa also however suffers from poor internet connectivity which has an inevitable knock-on effect for the digital skills needed in start-ups."

“The importance of internet connectivity to support entrepreneurs will only grow in the future but there are still areas where delivering affordable and reliable connectivity remains an issue. World Mobile’s network based on the sharing economy sells affordable network nodes to local business owners, so they have the power to connect themselves and others while sharing the rewards. This will enable more people to access the opportunities that internet connectivity creates.”

World Mobile’s balloons will be the first to officially launch in Africa for commercial use, offering a more cost-effective way to provide digital connection to people and is the first step in its mission to help bring nearly 3 billion people online before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank’s SDGs.

World Mobile’s hybrid network takes a more sustainable approach than that of legacy mobile

operators, offering innovative solutions to environmental, social and governance concerns. By using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries and energy-efficient technology, the network mitigates its environmental impact. World Mobile also facilitates positive and sustainable societal growth

through the application of its “sharing economy”, where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network.


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