Africa land of new mo­men­tum

Enterprise - - Region -

Think­ing of start­ing a busi­ness in Africa? Then first take a look at the four es­sen­tial Ps. Firstly, as­sess­ing ‘ po­lit­i­cal’ sta­bil­ity is vi­tal. Se­condly, one must also be ‘ pa­tient’, as the faint- hearted usu­ally turn out as fail­ures in Africa. To over­come the pos­si­ble hur­dles, ‘ per­se­ver­ance’ is also termed as es­sen­tial. The final P makes it all worth­while, ac­cord­ing to which there are lots of ‘ prof­its’ to be made in the African con­ti­nent.

This last prospect jus­ti­fies the now fre­quently heard claim that Africa of­fers full en­tre­pre­neur­ial po­ten­tial. Nearly ev­ery­one in the con­ti­nent wants to own their own busi­ness and do their own thing. In a G20 meet­ing in 2011, Donal Kaberuka, Pres­i­dent, African De­vel­op­ment Bank, said in a speech that Africa had, over the past decade, made a great leap for­ward, and had left be­hind the stag­na­tion of the past. The re­gion has grown out to be a land of op­por­tu­nity and growth.

The po­ten­tial of Africa has risen to a level that un­lock­ing its re­sources is not just for the good of Africa but also for the good of the world. This has be­come pos­si­ble be­cause of the sup­port of the con­ti­nent’s part­ners, its de­mog­ra­phy, that in­cludes a host of tal­ented young peo­ple and en­trepreneurs and the eco­nomic re­forms that Africa has un­der­taken over the past years.

Africa is cau­tious and vig­i­lant in deal­ing with both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal risks, along with build­ing of in­fra­struc­ture to main­tain eco­nomic growth and at­tract­ing the pri­vate sec­tor to new projects. There are a num­ber of large in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies that are pre­pared to help the small busi­ness sec­tor to de­velop in places like Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. This has taken a form of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity as these coun­tries are go­ing through a sec­ond wave of eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Through this trans­for­ma­tion, an emerg­ing mid­dle class has de­vel­oped a thirst for prod­ucts and ser­vices that were pre­vi­ously out of reach. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, like many en­trepreneurs around the world, there is a gen­eral dis­sat­is­fac­tion with ex­ist­ing jobs and in­di­vid­u­als are mo­ti­vated to go for in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses. They start from the point of small en­ter­prises cre­ated out of need to put food on the ta­ble and go on to face all the chal­lenges to take the busi­ness up to the next level.

More­over, the in­ter­net has opened a new world of pos­si­bil­i­ties, mak­ing the con­duct­ing of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness on­line re­ally seam­less.

An on­line busi­ness en­tre­pre­neur com­ments, “We can trans­fer money by phone, which has trans­formed do­ing busi­ness in the coun­try. And Face­book is enor­mous in Kenya - a very quick way of ad­ver­tis­ing to your clients.”

Sig­nif­i­cantly, a num­ber of In­dian com­pa­nies have con­cen­trated on de­vel­op­ing in­roads in coun­tries such as Ghana, Nige­ria, Gabon and Tan­za­nia; op­por­tu­ni­ties could spill over to 24 coun­tries of the 54 na­tions in the African

con­ti­nent as these na­tions to­gether ac­count for 85 per­cent of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, pop­u­la­tion and in­fra­struc­ture grants of Sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to In­dian firms op­er­at­ing in Africa, clear­ances are rea­son­able and fast and, there­fore, a well- struc­tured project in a sta­ble coun­try is easy to im­ple­ment. MS Un­nikr­ish­nan, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ther­max, which man­u­fac­tures boil­ers and other en­ergy en­gi­neer­ing equip­ment, said that while it is not easy to en­ter a new over­seas mar­ket be­cause of high en­try bar­ri­ers, Africa is a good op­tion. The reg­u­la­tory stan­dards in the re­gion are not as high as in other mar­kets.

It ap­pears to­day that Africa is ready to con­trib­ute to a new growth mo­men­tum needed by the world, in or­der to deal with the mul­ti­ple prob­lems faced – un­em­ploy­ment, deficit, debt and global poverty. Africa and its in­sti­tu­tions are keen to play their part in that re­newed growth mo­men­tum.

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