The Emerging Platform Economy Series No. 2

Report | April 29, 2016

The Rise of African Platforms: A Regional Survey

By Dr. Olayinka David-West and Dr. Peter C. Evans

“The Rise of African Platforms,” is the first comprehensive survey to examine platform companies across Sub-Sahara Africa. The survey identified the 42 most significant platform companies operating in 33 countries. They operate throughout the region but, as the study notes, key clusters are forming in West Africa (Lagos), East Africa (Nairobi) and South Africa (Cape Town).

The survey outlines the constraints facing African platforms, but it also highlights the creative ways that entrepreneurs in Africa are addressing these constraints with a variety of innovations.

In addition to the opportunities and constraints of African platforms, the survey outlines a number of significant findings:

  • The typical age of African platforms
  • African platform company global linkages
  • African platforms organized by sector
  • African Platform type and ownership
  • Platform funding launch and growth
  • Top performing African platform companies
  • Global competition

View the full survey here.

The African platform survey team consists of leading scholars and experts on platform companies:
Dr. Olayinka David-West of the Lagos Business School and Dr. Peter C. Evans of The Center for Global Enterprise

The Emerging Platform Economy

What is the Emerging Platform Economy?
A platform business can be defined as a medium which lets others connect to it. Platform businesses can be found in a growing number of industries including social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn); internet auctions and retail (Amazon, eBay, Angie’s List); on-line financial and human resource functions (Workday, Elance-oDesk, Freelancer, WorkFusion), urban transportation (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar), mobile payment (Mahala, Square) and clean energy (Sungevity, SolarCity, EnerNOC).

Why this line of research?
What is the implication of platform companies like AirBnB, Uber, Car2Go, and Amazon on legacy, precedent businesses such as Hilton and Walmart? Once small and novel, platform businesses have grown substantially in recent years to become a much larger part of the economy. In addition, many platform businesses have moved from being domestic in focus to operating in multiple countries. Understanding the power and value of these multi-sided enterprise models in contemporary management will be the focus of this project. The CGE will build the first global database of platform enterprises facilitating several areas of analysis. It will support analysis of the scale of platforms in the global economy and the industry dynamics that they engender. It will provide the basis to ascertain platform companies’ relevance and impact to the enterprise and society on such things as payment systems, logistics, and transportation. Finally, it will also provide a basis for strategic management insights into the evolution of platform businesses on a global level.

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