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Advantage, Africa

12 January 2016 08:00


The international financial community is eyeing Africa in a big way. Africa is finally taking centre stage as more and more international organisations are opening offices on the continent, more banks are viewing Africa with interest, and stock markets are showing strong performances.

Louise Robinson, Managing Director at Database 360 says investing in Africa is a must for all enterprises wishing to succeed in the future. “Africa is already showing one of the highest returns on investment. African banks did not take the same knocks as their US and European counterparts during the recession, and the interest in Africa remains strong.”

She acknowledges that Africa is not without its problems, particularly in terms of infrastructure, poor transport, low electricity penetration and so on. “However, investment in the continent can fix this. Africa is so resource rich, that investors will put infrastructure in place to be able to tap into them.”

Africa is a continent teeming with business possibilities, she says. The African Economist cited figures from the African Development Bank that revealed that by 2030, the majority of African countries will have attained lower-middle to middle-class majorities, and that consumer spending will explode to about $2.2 trillion.

Robinson says the burgeoning world population, estimated to reach 8.3 billion by 2030, will also offer Africa some enormous opportunities, as the demand for resources will reach previously undreamed of levels. “By 2035 it is estimated that more of the global workforce will be African, overtaking even superpowers such as China. Africa is also set to enjoy a major role in meeting consumer needs across the globe. Prospects remain high on the continent due to high commodity prices from China and India. Africa is also now viewed as far less risk in terms of its political climate, currency, trade and governance, and is touting return rates far higher that offered by more developed nations.”

The next ten years will be an out of the ordinary time for Africa. The global economic axis is shifting, and Africa is set to shine. “There will be swings and roundabouts, but those who do not see the changes afoot, and refuse to view Africa as the next place to be will be missing a giant business opportunity.”

Robinson says that projected economic growth is just one of the reasons why companies should consider starting up or expanding their existing businesses into Africa – especially in the ICT sector. “The nascent technology scene is starting to grow. While Internet usage remains fairly low across the region, mobile penetration is high, with even the poorer African countries boasting mobile rates of around 85%.”

She believes a combination of solid business practices and innovative approaches is key to success in African markets. Robinson points out that the most important consideration for any business looking to invest in an African business is that they have to walk a fine line between accepting local business customs and following good business practices.

“What is appropriate in Lagos may not be in Nairobi, or Johannesburg. Similarly, Africa has a bad reputation for corruption, so an investor must have a good enough understanding of where the two meet in order to evaluate the potential success of any African business. Having a local advisory or consulting firm on board can make or break any deal, and can mean the difference between investing in the next Mark Zuckerberg or in a 419 scam.”

Robinson’s company specialises in creating up-to-date, accurate corporate databases of thousands of small, medium and large organisations across all industries – but especially the IT sector – throughout the African and Middle Eastern markets. She says especially IT companies looking to expand globally would be shortsighted to overlook the opportunities growing across the continent.


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Mia Andric



Consultancy supporting businesses doing business with Africa. Based in Cape Town, but with a London office.

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