Africa land of new momentum
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.