Africapitalism – The future of capitalism in Africa| Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
Africa has not fully enjoyed the positive aspects, or benefits of capitalism.

In Africa capitalism has been a negative force, integrating the continent into the international economy in a position of subservience.” This is the view of Dr Njeri Mwagiru, a senior futurist at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), based at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). She was one of the speakers at the inaugural Chamber of Beautiful Business Cape Town, co-hosted by USB and The House of Beautiful Business. The speakers explored the future of African Capitalism.

Mwagiru says the introduction of capitalism into Africa historically, and the continent’s integration into global capitalism has been in terms of extraction of value and exploitation. The impacts of capitalist imperialism have been corrosive.

Today, the continent is attracting international interests as a growth frontier of capitalism, with expanding markets and gradually stabilising democracies.

But, she says, Africa’s current form of capitalism still allows the extraction of value without adding corresponding value to society. Crony capitalism that benefits an elite few, weak regulatory institutions and virulent fraud drain away opportunities for social advancement and prosperity.

“Our current implementation of capitalism continues to depend on the exploitation of people and natural resources, and is deeply responsible for a disproportionate distribution of income and wealth.”

There are variations in capitalist models in different regions from laissez faire to government interventionist approaches. “There are mixed models of capitalism around the world, and Africa needs one that addresses its entrenched challenges and caters for its unique advantages,” she says.

Speaking on how Africans can reshape capitalism to gain more benefits for the continent, Mwagiru discussed Africapitalism, a term coined by Nigerian banker Tony Elumelu. According to Mwagiru, an Africapitalism perspective may offer a different form of capitalism for Africa.

“Africapitalism puts Africa and its people at the centre of economic growth and development in the region. Its purpose is to benefit the wider community, prioritising the common good over pure profit motives.”

Africapitalism “requires effective coordination between business, government, and civil society, meeting market demands and collective human needs, rather than driving only self-interest”.

According to Mwagiru making changes in the way capitalism operates in Africa today involves entrepreneurs and corporations.

“The private sector must be involved in the business of sustainable development. The business of development is not for the initiative of governments, donor countries and humanitarian organisations alone.”

For the continent to realise prosperity, it will need the drive of business, require government support, and depend on genuine engagement from communities.

Mwagiru says, “let us recalibrate how we do business, and direct the energy of capitalism more positively, to meet the development needs of Africans.”

Imagining the future of capitalism in Africa, includes exploring how Africans can create a more optimal system. The notion of Africapitalism is offered as a way to shape economic growth and prosperity with collective benefits.

More about The House of Beautiful Business

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is proud to be the first in South Africa to co-host this international series of gatherings with The House of Beautiful Business, which was founded to explore the human future of business.

Produced and hosted by The Business Romantic Society the House of Beautiful Business is a global think tank and community; it is a unique space created to humanise work in the age of machines. As an event and thought leadership platform it builds and cultivates a global community of leaders who are inspired to shape a more human way of doing business.

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