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Seminar at Institute of Developing Economies – JETRO

Mon., July 2nd, 2018

Institute of Developing Economies - JETRO, APL (Ajiken Power Lunch) seminar

Date & Time: July 2, 2018 3:30-5:00 PM

Venue: C23 seminar room

Title: African Entrepreneurs in the new millennium: Can the "Cheetah Generation" transform Africa?

In the last decade and half, there has been a resurgence of interest by the media as well as academia in African entrepreneurs. This revival of interest has been sparked largely by the persisting challenges of transforming Africa from a continent specialising in the export of predominantly commodities to a continent with a diverse export base. In the context of this challenge, debates around the role of African Entrepreneurs have featured strongly after analysts realised that although most African countries experienced decent economic growth between 2002 and 2015, this growth has not translated into real job creation and significant reduction in poverty levels. Given the challenge of creating jobs and constructing inclusive economies, most policymakers and politicians in many African countries are now focusing on promoting entrepreneurship, targeting the African youth.
While in the past the existence of an entrepreneur class in Africa was doubted by many analysts, today the discourse has moved beyond the 'existence debate' focusing more on trying to understand the key features of what is sometimes referred to as the "new generation of African entrepreneurs" (McDade and Spring, 2005) or more generally as the "Cheetah Generation" (Ayitteh, 2005). I argue in this paper that although there have been many studies conducted in the last decade and half on African entrepreneurs (Brixiova, 2010; Baumol, 2010; Gelb et al, 2008; Ncube, 2015), this part of the African society remains under-theorised with scanty scholarly literature that provides insights into what constitutes this group, the different sub-groups, and how they navigate the African socioeconomic and political milieu. Drawing on case studies conducted in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Ghana, I argue that the role African entrepreneurs will play in the transformation of the continent will be largely determined by African governments approach to and relations with this group. In this paper I focus on the composition of African entrepreneurs and how they relate with African States.