Africa is a hotbed for entrepreneurs right now. Last year, Tony Elumelu, an economist, philanthropist, and advocate for entrepreneurship, declared 2015 the year of the African entrepreneur. In a recent commencement address, Elumelu said, “All they need is a business idea and the commitment to succeed.” That’s the simplified version, but the climate is ripe throughout Africa for startups and entrepreneurs to succeed.
While ideas and commitment are essential ingredients, mobile technology has played a prominent role in facilitating entrepreneurship in Africa — and it will continue to do so now and in the future. Below are some of the most important international conferencing and communication tools for African entrepreneurs and startups:
International Conference Calls
Africa is a complex continent with 54 member states of the United Nations from Algeria to Zimbabwe. While many African entrepreneurs may start local businesses, others may interact with customers, business partners, mentors, and suppliers throughout the continent — or around the world for that matter. International conference calls in Africa allow participants to connect to a group phone call by dialing either a local or toll free number specific to the country that they are in.
For example, an African entrepreneur in Ghana could host an international conference call with participants located in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. Instead of requiring each to dial a Ghana phone number, the entrepreneur would issue local or toll free phone numbers for Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia — making it easy and affordable for all participants to call. If that same international conference call has participants located in the United States, Spain, China, and elsewhere around the globe, the host of the call could issue additional local or toll free numbers specific to those countries.
Mobile International Conferencing
As important and convenient as international conference calls are to African entrepreneurs, mobile international conferencing tools are even more important.
Last year, according to StatCounter, mobile Internet usage soared by 67 percent around the world with mobile usage having overtaken desktop usage Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Mobile Internet usage in Africa is certainly helping to fuel entrepreneurship throughout the continent.
For entrepreneurs hosting conference calls, it’s more likely than not that their go-to device is a smartphone rather than a desktop. Thus, international conferencing services catering to this market need to make it easy to schedule, coordinate, and manage international conference calls via mobile apps and mobile-friendly sites.
International Virtual Numbers
Finally, African entrepreneurs can benefit from international virtual phone numbers. While an entrepreneur may be physically operating from Ghana, for instance, he or she could also set up local phone numbers in other countries throughout Africa. Callers from Nigeria would dial a Nigerian phone number, but the call would be forwarded to the Ghana business.
International virtual numbers can be used for convenience — to make it easier for international callers to reach your business — or to create a local presence in locations outside the country.
It’s an exciting time to be an African entrepreneur. Extend your reach with international conference calling, mobile international conferencing solutions, and international virtual numbers — each of which can save you money as well as give you access to superior telecommunications networks than may be available to you locally.
How have you been using international conferencing or virtual phone numbers in Africa?
Share your ideas in the comments section below.