'It is time for Africa' in the Sky Over Silicon Valley

'It is time for Africa' in the Sky Over Silicon Valley
A banner by the Mara Group that reads 'It is time for Africa!' in the sky over Silicon Valley on May 18, 2013. The founder of the Mara Group, Ashish Thakkar, says that Africa is a serious force to reckon with. (Courtesy of Ashish Thakkar)
Jasper Fakkert

SAN FRANCISCO—Ashish Thakkar, founder of the Mara Group, is in town—and it's not going unnoticed.

A plane pulling a banner saying 'It is time for Africa!' is flying over Silicon Valley for six hours today, May 18th.

Thakkar, 31, who started his first company at age 15 and whose Mara Group has turned into a pan-African conglomerate, is in the valley today to announce the launch of three mobile applications at the TiEcon entrepreneur conference in Santa Clara.

Thakkar, who is often referred to as Africa's youngest billionaire, says he intends to improve communication within Africa as well as better connect Africa with the rest of the world.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Thakkar said that he expects the applications to be a game changer.

“If you look at global data on Facebook and Google's penetration, sub-Saharan Africa is unknown,” he said.

He expects that the new applications will be used by millions of users.

The applications, which are launched under the umbrella of Mara Online, include Mara Connect, a free voice-over IP application, Mara Messenger, an instant messenger platform, and the first African social media platform, named BuzzMe.

According to Thakkar, an offline presence is essential to make the applications successful in Africa.

“It's not only the online presence and the social media that will create the buzz for this. You have to have offline presence, you need to have people that are actually on the ground that will teach these people how to use these platforms,” he said.

With the Mara group now operating in 18 African countries, it has the offline presence needed to achieve that.

The new platforms are also intended to facilitate the communication needed for Mara's mentor platform, which aims to provide new entrepreneurs in Africa with the knowledge they need.

“I'm a fond believer of rather than re-inventing the wheel and to bring Silicon Valley to Africa, rather let's bring Africa to Silicon Valley,” Thakkar said.

“We are a billion people as a continent, physically we are larger than North America, Western Europe, India, China, and New Zealand put together. That should be taken seriously, it is a huge economy to play wit,” he said.

As an entrepreneur Thakkar is a tireless force in expanding his business empire in Africa as well as enabling new African entrepreneurs to do the same.

“Africa is a serious force to reckon with and it's the future,” Thakkar said.

Jasper Fakkert is the Editor-in-chief of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication Science and a Master's degree in Journalism. Twitter: @JasperFakkert
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