ZIMBABWEAN superstar Oliver Mtukudzi has been named among the top 20 most interesting trends around Africa by the magazine DestinyConnect.
The list features blistering mobile telephone sales, edgy furniture made from reclaimed wood and humanoid robots directing traffic in the DRC.
Musician, businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist, Mtukudzi is ranked 16th and described as arguably the most internationally recognised cultural icon to have emerged from Zimbabwe.
“He sings about political violence and the hardships of everyday life (without directly criticising the regime of President Robert Mugabe), incorporating different musical traditions and amassing a following across Africa and elsewhere after a series of overseas trips,” says Destiny Connect.
“He’s also a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for eastern and southern Africa.”
After Tuku, in 17th place, are the unique solar-powered, humanoid robots the DRC has introduced across Kinshasa in a bid to decrease the number of road accidents across high-traffic areas of the capital, and to replace corrupt policemen.
The 2,4m robots, operated by the country’s National Commission for Road Safety, regulate traffic by raising and bending their steel arms and helping pedestrians to cross streets safely.
Equipped with rotating chests and surveillance cameras, they’re made locally and designed by engineer Therese Izay, who runs a women’s technology co-operative in the DRC.
She hopes the robots will be installed in cities across Africa and beyond, to create jobs for female engineers.
In first place is Africa’s mobile industry success story which remains one of the best investment opportunities on the continent, with subscription numbers set to jump by 50% to 930 million by 2019.
Penetration rates have exploded faster than anywhere else in the world, climbing to more than 75% by the middle of last year from around 1% in 2000 – fast closing in on the global rate of more than 90%.
Revenues from the industry are set to rise from $60 billion in 2012 to $119 billion by 2020, which will be around 8% of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), higher than comparable regions.
The industry’s also an important employment-creator: jobs generated are expected to rise from 3,3 million at present to 6,6 million in 2020. The trend’s largely been driven by rising incomes and falling costs, while mobile telephony has leap-frogged over fixed-line coverage.Advertisement
Mobile payments are also booming, with money transfers set to exceed $200 billion this year.
Kenya’s biggest mobile operator, Safricam, has an annual transaction volume equivalent to one-quarter of the country’s GDP, while Zimbabwe’s Econet offers the cheapest services in the world and has become the first telecoms company in sub-Saharan Africa.
South African fast food chain Nando’s is ranked tenth. The chain is one of the continent’s most successful retail brands, expanding to more than 1 000 locations in 30 countries and five continents since opening its first restaurant in 1987.
Nando’s sales had climbed 10% to more than £535 million in the UK alone by February 2014.
Part of its appeal among young consumers can be attributed to its witty and often controversial commercials, including one which depicted Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe reflecting on happy moments as he dined with fallen dictators.
Advertising Age magazine named Nando’s as one of the world’s top 30 hottest marketing brands in 2010.
Nigeria’s Nollywood is ranked fifth having grown to become one of the continent’s best-known phenomena since it evolved into a booming industry in the late 1990s, gaining markets in the country and elsewhere.
It’s now the world’s second-largest film industry after India and ahead of the USA, valued at more than $7 billion, or around 1,4% of the economy (excluding the black market).
Hollywood films have been nudged off the shelves, outsold by Nigerian productions in the country and distributed in some of the most remote areas on the continent, despite their relatively higher prices.
Around 1 200 movies are produced annually in genres ranging from action to romance, gospel and horror. Some attribute their appeal to a greater family orientation, although the use of English – rather than local languages – has helped fuel their success.