ECONET founder and executive chairman Strive Masiyiwa has bemoaned the fact that while Africans use popular social media applications (apps) such as YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, they are lagging behind their former colonisers in developing their own apps which speak to the African needs.
The telecoms mogul attributed this to lack of belief among Africans, whom he says only want to “consume” technologies from other nations but are not pushing towards developing their own.
“Africa has not really participated in this revolution yet, except as consumers. We love YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp but most of us have never developed our own platforms in Africa. We enjoy the services but others get the money.
“A relative of mine told me she wanted a Smartphone so she could use WhatsApp, and Facebook. That is like telling me you want a Ferrari so that you can drive to the shops!
“One of the favorite icons on my phone is actually the “App Store”. I go there almost every day to look at cool new Apps. But… not as a consumer, as an entrepreneur! I never do anything strictly as a consumer. I re-wired myself years ago!” Masiyiwa wrote on social media on Thursday, in a motivational piece directed to his 4 million strong followers on Facebook.
He added that while those who colonised and enslaved Africa never wanted Africans to believe in themselves, the blame now lies amongst Africans who have continued to fail to shake off the “unbelief” in their own capacities.
He wrote: “Those who once colonized and enslaved us never wanted us to “believe” in ourselves, but unfortunately, when they left, we often struggled to shake off this “unbelief” in our own capacity.
“So even though we have young minds that can do it, there is a limiting #mindset sometimes that we have to work on. A poster I saw one day said (something like): “Millions of people can believe in you but none of it matters if you don’t believe in yourself”.
“We must do everything possible to encourage our entrepreneurs into this space. And also to ensure our children have the digital skills they need to get started young. The Digital Age has only just begun!”
Masiyiwa further revealed that in the past 20 years, digital economy businesses have erupted because of the rise of mobile Internet, creating global titans that have become household names.
“These include Google ($891.3bn, USA), Facebook ($554.2bn, USA), Amazon ($893.3bn, USA), Tencent ($405.4bn, China), Alibaba ($473.8bn, China), Baidu ($37.7bn, China), Uber ($46bn, USA), Grab (est $14bn, Singapore). These companies have a combined market capitalization of about $3.7tn, compared to the world’s 10 largest oil companies ($1.8tn) and the top 10 mining companies ($576bn).
“Looked at in a different way, the market cap of the top 10 “digital economy” companies ($3.7tn) is more than the GDP’s of Africa ($2.3tn), India ($2.6tn), and Russia ($1.6tn).
“These digital economy companies have created wealth for both their founders and their countries, and have a few things in common:
“#1. They grew out of the Internet and they use mobile Smartphones.
#2. They are dominated by American and Chinese entrepreneurs.
#3. Their founders were all very young when they started.”