Backing ourselves

It’s time to bet on Africa, rather than the dollar.

26 October 2022

I recently spent some time visiting Morocco; I highly recommend it. In my conversations with the locals, I was somewhat taken aback by their generally negative sentiment towards South Africa. For a start, just getting into the country on a South African passport was more difficult and more expensive, requiring a visa, than visiting on a European or British passport. However, listening to them, it made sense. South Africa requires visas for Moroccan tourists, so Morocco responded in kind. This sort of passive- aggressive tit-for-tat is unfortunately all too common between African nations, and it’s holding us back as a continent. We treat foreign capital and foreign citizens better than we do our own neighbours, to our detriment. South Africa, as one of the stronger economies on the African continent, needs to accept a fair portion of the guilt here.

Take food delivery services, for example. In South Africa, Uber Eats is a household name. In contrast, how many of us have even heard of, let alone used, Jumia, the Nigerian-based African ecommerce and delivery success story? I used the app while in Morocco and the service was fast and impeccable – with the delivery person even walking the last mile through the tiny uneven streets of Marrakech’s Medinam, and still arriving faster than Uber Eats would bring you a pizza in Johannesburg on any given Friday night. Yes, Jumia has been available in South Africa since 2020, it’s just not nearly as well known or popular as it is across the rest of the continent. My point is that South Africans are faster to adopt and accept international brands than African ones.

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