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ICT Report

We have added the report from the last ICT event. It can be viewed / downloaded here


The New Africa: Emerging Opportunities for Business and Africa

The world is waking up to a new Africa. The predominant theme in the emerging narrative is no longer war, famine and disease but rather strong economic performance. The resources industry has played an important role in this shift but economic diversification is coming to many African countries, where an expanding consumer base is fuelling growth in other sectors. And measurable improvements in governance and human development suggest that these changes will be lasting.

Investors are realising that Africa is good for business. Strong economic growth, business friendly reforms, mature financial institutions and some large economies (South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt among them) add up to an enticing proposition. It is no wonder that foreign investment in Africa is showing strong growth and that returns on investment in Africa, both foreign and domestic, are among the highest in the world.

Increased investor interest is having a beneficial impact on many African countries: business is good for Africa. Investment is creating jobs which have a wide ripple effect. And foreign companies are helping to develop domestic industries through the transfer of skills and technology and by generating demand for extended supply chains.

A sharper investor appetite for African opportunities is sparking a virtuous circle of developments. As companies wake up to Africa’s potential, they are making investments which develop local industries. As those economies grow, they present yet more opportunities to investors and spur governments to make their business environment more attractive to investors.

Our Report – produced in partnership with Ernst and Young – covers three themes: Africa’s Prospects are Improving; Africa is Good for Business; and Business is Good for Africa.  A core message is that Africa has turned a new page. The prospects look bright and this is only the start of the story.  For those of us who know Africa, this is not a surprising story, but it is one we have the duty to tell to those who are yet to wake up to the changed reality across the continent.


Post written by Zahid Torres-Rahman, Director, Business Action for Africa


Should African Countries Aim to Become like the US or Japan?

I am sitting here in a hotel room in Juba, South Sudan, and I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the mountain of challenges that this new nation is facing.  It is estimated that the 20 year civil war which ended recently claimed 2 million lives, and an estimated 4 million were displaced either internally or externally.  It is a hot day in Juba – almost 45 degrees –  and I am drinking from a chilled bottle of water, watching on television the unfolding nuclear nightmare in Japan.  Not in recent history have we had such a flurry of big issues sweeping the world headlines in such a short period of time.  

First, we were rivetted by the elections in Ivory Coast.  Two people declared themselves winners in a disputed  presidential election.  We all held out breaths,  afraid of the almost eminent explosion of violence and the instability that a civil war could cause for the whole West Africa region.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Tunisia erupted.  The cameras moved with speed and fed us images of the amazing potential of people power.  The President of Tunisia fled the country, and the government collapsed like a pack of cards.  

But it didn’t stop there.  Egyptians seized the moment and decided to do what no one could have imagined possible just a few  months earlier.  The throngs on the streets of Cairo brought the world to a virtual standstill.  Could they do it?  Would they do it?  They did it.  President Mubarak, the corrupt strongman who had ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years finally gave in.  People power had done it again.  

And so the new trend began to sweep across the Arab world.  Anything was possible now.  They Yemenis, the Saudis, the Bahrainians, the Arabs in Khartoum  and who knows where – everyone wanted to join in the party.  Libya’s Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi – decided enough was enough, and he vowed to bring down the infidels.  With brute force, his army descended on the people of Libya with no hesitation about killing.  

By this time, the Ivory Coast crisis had been long forgotten.  The world stopped and gawked at the evil that can reside in one man.  Would the world community do more than issue condemning statements?  Where was all this leading?  And how long would it be before the chaos would spill southward to the Sub-Saharan nations?  

Before we could think, the earth quake struck in Japan.  And then the tsunami.  I was beginning to get dizzy.  The nuclear reactor story was shaping up to be another show stopper.  The threat of a nuclear  meltdown, and the implications for the people in that region was frightening.  As panic began to quietly spread, analysts have started estimating the implications for the world economy.  Wasn’t it just the other day when we were talking about a global economic crisis?  

So many questions swirling around my head as I sit here in this dusty capital city of a start-up nation that is just beginning to define itself.  What vision would I cast for this country if I had the opportunity to lead it?  And what does development really mean for a country like Sudan?  Should this country’s goal be to one day become like the United States or Japan?  

What do you think?  Join us for a discussion on Facebook.