By Ashish J. Thakkar.

More movies are made in Nigeria than Hollywood each year. M-pesa, arguably the world’s most successful mobile payments system, is a Kenyan creation. There are signs that not only is Africa’s brain drain reversing but that outsiders are increasingly viewing the continent as a land of opportunity rather than a place to be pitied.

These are just a few of the themes explored by Ashsh Thakkar in this book. Thakkar uses his own life story — Rwandan genocide survivor, Ugandan school dropout-turned-entrepreneur at 15, and now, aged 34, founder and head of the diversified Mara Group that employs thousands of people in 22 African countries — as the backbone of an entertaining voyage around the continent’s burgeoning business scene.

He uses myriad examples to demonstrate just how resourceful Africans are — from well-known figures such as Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim to William Kamkwamba, the Malawian who at the age of 14 built a windmill out of scrap, and the Kenyan techies creating life-changing apps for farmers.

The author rightly highlights how much of the sea-change has been possible only due to a telecoms revolution. But Thakkar, whose ventures include financial services company Atlas Mara, a partnership with ex-Barclays boss Bob Diamond accepts Africa’s development is still nascent: “The shoes you’re wearing? That computer on your desk? The car you’re driving? We need to get to the position where those products are made in Africa.”

A significant impediment to faster growth, Thakkar believes, is that few Africans receive sufficient support to realise their potential and a good chunk of the book is devoted to the importance of mentoring.

Aid, particularly of the western variety, meanwhile, comes in for excoriating criticism. Thakkar insists that while philanthropy has a key role in Africa’s development, trade — as espoused by China — is the answer, not donations by well-meaning but misguided governments, aid agencies and celebrities.

Should we buy Thakkar’s overflowing exuberance? There are reasons to be wary. He and Diamond failed to raise their $400m target in a recent Atlas Mara funding round. The Mara Group is private so there is little public scrutiny of its successes or failures.

Thakkar also undermines his thesis by the extremely hagiographic account of how Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, has transformed the tiny landlocked country. There is no denying that in 1994 the nation was a genocidal basket case and it now ranks well above the vast majority of its neighbours in annual surveys. But the way Thakkar glosses over Kagame’s human rights record and treatment of political opponents is jarring. And, as Thakkar goes to great lengths to emphasise, Africa is a disparate and varied continent, and not a single entity. There are many of its 54 nations that are either not named or barely mentioned.

But these issues should not deter readers from what is ultimately a feel-good story backed by sufficient evidence to be broadly credible. Who knows, perhaps we all will soon be driving African-made cars?