Africa: Masiyiwa Ranked Number 1 in Africa’s Digital Top 40

Econet founder and executive chairman Strive Masiyiwa has been ranked number one in The Africa Report’s Digital Top 40, a ranking of the leading shapers of Africa’s digital landscape.

This is the first ranking of the digital economy’s power players with Mr Masiyiwa, who founded and partly owns Econet, Cassava and Liquid Telecomms, coming tops.

If there is one industry that has continued to exceed expectations in Africa, it is telecommunications.

According to The Africa Report, today, Africa has more than 500 million cellphone users. That is almost one in two Africans.

“It is far beyond what Rwandan-Congolese businessman Miko Rwayitare, creator of the continent’s first mobile network, Telecel International, could have imagined in 1987.”

At the time, the entrepreneur was only targeting a few thousand of the happy few, and his phones, which could not even send an SMS, were still the size of a brick.

In three decades, operators have gone through global crises relatively untroubled. After the development of 2G networks, then 3G and 4G networks, submarine cables and mobile-mobile payments, the continent has taken a new technological leap – that of the platform economy.

It, (platform economy) first appeared in the field of e-commerce, which has been active for a few years now, to be joined by financial services, energy, agriculture, health and education. Even governments have started to use them in the hope of bridging the gap between citizens and administrations.

Alongside MTN, Vodacom, Orange and others, thousands of start-ups, investors, incubators, fibre-optic network operators, data centres and influencers are enriching the ecosystem.

This profusion of players inspired The Africa Report’s first ranking of the top 40 personalities who make up Digital Africa, with the goal of updating it every year.

To select 40 from this crowded field was an ambitious undertaking, says The Africa Report about the ranking.

It includes -telecom operators with hundreds of millions of subscribers, the heads of specialised investment funds and founders of start-ups that have become unicorns, but also African representatives of the FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) giants. It also includes some public decision-makers who hold the purse strings on digital infrastructure.

Innovation, funding, leadership