It’s popular in the media to say Africa is “rising,” that the “hopeless continent” of yore is moving away from poverty, corruption, deadly disease, and dismal economies to a place of booming growth and unprecedented prosperity. But just who is “rising,” asks Ghanaian investor Sangu Delle at TEDxOxford.
He’s found — from interviews with entrepreneurs from around the continent — that inequality in Africa is heavily gendered. Women are often charged higher interest rates from banks (as much as 120%) and given less access to market information and to technology; all while fighting social pressures to uphold stereotypical gender roles. None of these statistics, however, are stopping women from starting businesses at an unprecedented rate. In fact, there are “more women starting businesses in Africa than any other part of the world,” Delle says.
“Advancing women’s equality [in Africa] could potentially add $12 trillion to the world’s economy…and in emerging economies, women reinvest 90 cents of every additional dollar of income in their families’ education, health and nutrition compared to 40 cents for men,” he adds.
It is important to see gender equality as a critical economic issue, Delle says. If Africa is to become economically free — a continent owned and run by Africans — it is imperative that 100% of the population is given ample opportunity to contribute skills and intellect to its development and growth.
“Given our demographics on the continent with an estimated 1 billion babies over the next 3 to 4 decades, I daresay we as Africans have an economic imperative to support and promote gender equality,” he says.
Watch his whole talk to learn more: