There are now over 5 billion mobile subscribers globally, with the fastest growth and volume of subscribers seen in emerging markets like Africa, India and Asia-Pacific.
The advanced economies in the US, Europe and Japan are at a crossroads. During the last 60 years their governmental and business structures have been successful in delivering growth and improved standards of living, by maintaining investment in the public sector alongside financial deregulation and the promotion of innovation in the private sector. However, the real cumulative debt of the advanced economies is likely to be deeper than reported, when public, personal and corporate debt is added together. Today, a significant part of this debt is owned by emerging economies. China, for example, holds $877 billion and €520 billion in US and European government bonds respectively.
The IMF prediction of 2.6% growth for the United States this year is historically weak coming after a recession, though marks a sharp reversal from the 2.6% decline in U.S. activity last year - the steepest fall since 1946. The U.S. forecast is down from a 3.3% projection the IMF made in July. Growth prospects are even less encouraging in Europe. The 16 nations that use the common euro currency will see their economies average just 1.7% growth this year and 1.5 % next year, the IMF says. Combined, advanced economies such as the United States and Europe are forecast to grow 2.7% this year and 2.2% in 2012.
By contrast, emerging economies such as those in China, Russia, India, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, are expected to expand by an average 7.1% in 2011 and 6.4% next year — more than double the growth rates of the advanced economies. Emerging economies have used foreign investment, innovation, population growth, their wealth of natural commodities, entrepreneurship and telecommunications to kick-start their economies.
The strong performance of emerging markets is attracting increasing amounts of capital that used to sit in the US. Year-to-date, it is the stock markets of some of the emerging economies that have enjoyed dramatic moves, such as Indonesia (+38.2%), Chile (+34.4%), India (+23%), Thailand (+32.8%), and Peru (+26.1%). In contrast, the U.S. stock market is up about 2%.
Institutional investors have taken $49.3 billion out of US equity funds (according to EPFR Global) and invested them in emerging market equity funds. Fund managers are focusing on fast-rising commodity prices, whether grains, coffee, cotton or silver. In 2010, tin was the biggest winner with an increase of 44.6%, well ahead of silver (+28.3), stainless steel scrap (+24.8), wheat (+24.5) and gold (+20.2).
Another key reason for the surge in emerging stock markets is that investors are betting that rising wages in the emerging markets will benefit their own economies and lead to the development of an aspirational middle class in their societies. The emerging economies understand that they can no longer count on the US to fuel growth and so have adapted, trading more with each other and relying increasingly on domestic consumption.
This is why India has performed so well, for example, as the economy has witnessed the benefits of decoupling from the US consumer. Its companies are focusing on building products and services that cater to the massive demographic that is the Indian consumer. Richard Kang, chief investment officer at New York-based Emerging Global Advisors says: “the demographic and economic growth will come across the pond. By 2030, 93% of the world’s middle class will live in what is currently termed emerging markets”.
In many respects, we are seeing the emergence of a "South-South trading block"., across South America, Africa, India, the Middle East and Asia. Despite disparities, these economies can rely on a large younger demographic, an emerging and aspiring middle class, huge raw material and natural resources, telecommunications, home-grown agile technologies and investment finance. The on-going political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East complete this dynamic picture. These economies are also developing a new business model for the "emerging poor". This is characterised by a population escaping from absolute poverty but one that has not yet reached middle-class status, with increasing access to microfinance, telecommunications, mobile phone transactions, solar power schemes, cheap cars and low cost computers as just a few examples.
Populations that previously had limited access to telecommunications have seized the opportunity to own a mobile phone. There are now over 5 billion mobile subscribers globally, with the fastest growth and volume of subscribers seen in emerging markets like Africa, India and Asia-Pacific.
Emerging countries have led the boom in cellular markets. Rapid economic growth has increased disposable incomes and many consumers have acquired mobile phones for the first time. In most emerging countries, mobile phones have had faster uptake than Internet or fixed-line telephones owing to the limited infrastructure. Vodafone Global Enterprise offers a mobile footprint and coverage that securely connects millions of subscribers across these markets.
Mobile money, mobile commerce and mobile healthcare are leading the potential for market growth here. Enterprises in the emerging economies are also benefiting from utilising agile mobile web and cloud-based CRM and business intelligence tools, to deliver increased control over their business processes, productivity and business efficiencies.
The use of M2M is heralding a range of service and application providers in emerging markets such as remote metering, weather information for agricultural services and supply chain intelligence for mining companies. Vodafone Global Enterprise is a leader in the development of mobile money with M-PESA, mobile healthcare with SMS for Life and innovative M2M services for services like water metering.
For the emerging market consumer, aggressive telecommunication pricing is reducing the costs for mobile usage, with the immediate effect of continued mobile penetration and smartphone take-up. For enterprises, the effect of the consumer usage will be improved literacy, easier adoption of mobile business applications and larger potential markets. Mobility and investment finance is accelerating entrepreneurship, economic growth and the establishment of the middle class across the emerging economies.
The rise of young entrepreneurs is extending the impact of the demographic dividend. Most of the emerging world will stay young while the developed world ages. In 2020 the median age in India will be 28, compared with 38 in America, 45 in Western Europe and 49 in Japan. Young people are innately more inclined to overthrow the existing order than are their elders. This is being reinforced by two big changes in the emerging world.
The first is the mobility. The Boston Consulting Group calculates that there are already about 610m internet users in the BRICI countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia) and predicts that this number will nearly double by 2015. In one respect many consumers and businesses in the emerging markets are already leapfrogging over their Western counterparts, as they are more likely to access the internet via mobile devices rather than PCs. That gives local entrepreneurs an advantage. Whereas Western companies are hampered by legacy systems and legacy human structures, they can build companies around the latest agile technologies and business processes.
The second is an entrepreneurial revolution. Global institutions such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum have helped to popularise entrepreneurialism. The rise of a group of highly- successful emerging market enterprises has had a dramatic effect on thinking across the region. These companies have demonstrated that young entrepreneurs can succeed. They are also creating a large group of young aspirational middle-class professionals. These young entrepreneurs have already begun to shape markets such as mobile phone services, mobile apps, transaction and online business platforms and have demonstrated an impressive ability to identify gaps in other markets. Vodafone Global Enterprise is working with a number of entrepreneurs to evolve innovative mobility products, solutions and services.
The next Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google is increasingly likely to be founded in India or Africa rather than America or Europe.