Say ‘Africa’ and what comes to mind? Stereotypes are rampant: starving children, war, maybe a few lions lounging on the savannah. But how often is it business?
Yes, the African continent struggles with the trappings of poverty but it also has a population of 1 billion people – that’s 1 billion consumers on a continent that ranks as the 13th largest economy in the world, just behind India and Russia, with an expected growth rate of 5.5% this year.
Certainly as Claire Furphy of Consultancy Africa Intelligence writes, Africa is now the most profitable place to invest. “Not only does Africa provide the best growth rates, but analysis also show that investments in Africa between 2000 to 2009 have yielded the highest profits worldwide.”
The business opportunities on the continent are endless and they are no longer restricted to natural resources. Six other sectors have also experienced strong or even stronger growth than the resources sector since 2002, including:
- Financial intermediation
These sectors are supported by a burgeoning middle class which maintains a lifestyle similar to budding professionals worldwide – juggling car payments, mortgages, numerous mobile phones, laptops, high-end business meetings and family vacations.
But for public relations it’s the communication factor that really matters. As African Porter Novelli offices experience every day, Africa is home to the fastest growing mobile market in the world. Having exploded 5,000% between 1998 and 2003, mobile technology is fast becoming a major information point. Combined with rapidly growing Internet access, the rise of African television via Nigeria and South Africa, and the ever-strong reliance on print and radio, the scope for integrated communication and social engagement in Africa is rapidly increasing.
Certainly the continent is not without its challenges, but these days the positive economic stories far surpass the negative. Today’s storyline is one of transformation, ambition, entrepreneurialism, resilience and determination. Africa is open for business!
Photo from sremeika.