Africa: The Next Horizon for Business OpportunityPublished: June 06, 2012 in Knowledge@Wharton
While Europe and the U.S. struggle with economic challenges, growth -- albeit at a slower pace -- continues on in emerging markets. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, whose nations are starting to coalesce into a massive market of more than 900 million consumers.
In this special report, Knowledge@Wharton features lessons from the rise of Rwanda; the ongoing battle over natural resources; the challenges of developing modern infrastructure, and the role of private equity in driving growth, among other themes. In addition, the report includes interviews with Eric Kacou, author of Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BoP Markets, and Liban Soleman, chief of staff for the President of Gabon:
Partnerships: The Correct Path for Infrastructure-building in Africa: Although the infrastructure in Africa is woefully inadequate, one positive aspect of this situation is that countries can leapfrog technologies that are now outdated, such as landline telephones. The key is to make do with what is available, observers say. Multinationals, if they want to succeed, also must go outside their core strengths to make sure they are offering needed goods and services.
The Secret of Rwanda: Pushing Leadership down the Line: Not so long ago, Rwanda was a country devastated by ethnic violence -- a brutal genocide in 1994 that killed more than 800,000 people in 100 days. Under new leadership that looks forward rather than back, the country is emerging from the morass. But questions remain. Will President Paul Kagame step down in 2017? Will his vision continue without him?
Does a Growing Africa Need a Foreign Investment Code?: The African continent has become a global battleground for natural resources and consumer markets. Foreign direct investment is pouring in. But, according to a keynote speaker at the recent Wharton Africa Business Forum, these transactions must not be for the benefit of investors alone; the local economy and people must gain, too. The challenge becomes to create a roadmap for win-win situations.
Emerging Gabon Hinges on Services, Industry and the Environment: Gabon is one of the stable regimes in the African continent, and leaders there have a vision of progress based on being both business- and environment-friendly. Liban Soleman is the president's chief of staff of the government of Gabon. In this interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Soleman says there is enormous opportunity for investors in Gabon, and in Africa as a whole. (Article with audio)
Africa: A Frontier for Private Equity, but a Pitfall as Well: The emerging markets are passé. Private equity today is looking at frontier markets. As the name suggests, these are places where the opportunities are great but the risks are equally high. Africa, with close to 6% growth, has a range of such frontier markets, but out-of-the-box thinking is needed to invest in them, observers say.
Eric Kacou on the Rise of 'Entrepreneurial Solutions' in Africa: In his book, Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BoP Markets, Eric Kacou argues that many business and government leaders do not have a full understanding of the great opportunity that "base of the pyramid" (BoP) markets offer to help entrepreneurs take control of their economic destiny and transform the sector in which they operate. In a recent interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Kacou shared his thoughts on what other African countries can learn from Rwanda's experience, why business leaders need to have a clear strategy and the right mindset before investing in Africa, and how entrepreneurs can escape the "survival trap." (Article with video)