Mobile phone bills and beer consumption patterns are used by investors to assess how fast bank accounts are likely to grow in Africa, but what did investors count to gauge trends before there were mobile phones?
The answer? Cattle, bicycles, radios, founder of Zimbabwean telecoms company Econet Wireless Strive Masiyiwa told an Economist conference on Africa this afternoon. Masiyiwa said he researched ownership of these status items to assess the five-year demand for mobile phones in Botswana when he successfully bid for a mobile phone contract from Botswana’s government.
His forecasts, more optimistic than the other bidding operators’, still turned out to undershoot by hundreds of thousands, Masiyiwa said, adding that official data from organisations such as the World Bank also tend to underestimate Africa’s growth potential.
We need to have the confidence to review some of this (official) data ourselves, particularly when it doesn’t make much sense.
Nick Blazquez, President for Africa for drinks company Diageo, told Reuters that Africans were drinking everything from cheap keg beer to Johnnie Walker King George V whisky at $400 a bottle.