For Africa to me…is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place – Maya Angelou
The world’s second largest and second most-populous continent, Africa is considered by paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth. With a history so intricate, Africa is a continent shaped by its own politics, global events and current affairs. With 54 countries that make up the continent (and each one with its own football team), the diversity in languages, climate, ethnicities and cultures is extensive, challenging and exhilarating. This is what makes Africa so diverse, intriguing and special.
Home to 1.1 billion people (as of 2013) many leisure tourists and business tycoons see the potential in unlocking the continent too. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the global business fraternity has its eye on Africa.
Everyone wants to invest in Africa and for good reason. From Nigeria to Ghana and Kenya, talent and skill abound, business thrives and innovation soars.
This year, Leading Venues brings you top tips on doing successful business in Africa:
- It’s all about relationships: people matter a lot in Africa and business is driven more by relationships than transactions. Strong local relationships are critical to doing successful business in Africa and putting the time and energy into the people will pay dividends in the long run.
- Don’t underestimate the African consumer: African citizens have more money than you think and they want to spend it on trends, fashion and experiences. Take the time and effort to understand consumers, their values, needs and behaviour patterns. They are also fiercely loyal and if you take care of your consumers, they are likely to go the distance with you.
- Keeping connected: Today’s business person or aspiring professional considers data and connectivity a “basic necessity” but for investors, the data deficit can be a major challenge.
- All is not for one: When doing business in Africa, a one country approach won’t get you anywhere. Understand the country, the nuances and mindset of the people from the different countries.
- Nothing beats being on the ground: If you want to understand and operate successfully in Africa, engage and consult people on the ground. The key to navigating the complexity of the market is to get access to local resources who can offer local insights and counsel.
- Mind the infrastructure gap: Consider the challenges around infrastructure when venturing into the African continent. Don’t take the state of the roads, power or telecommunications for granted and plan ahead when it comes to meetings, calls or trips.
There is no doubt that Africa plays in its own distinctive political and cultural space with tenacious and diverse people spanning the length and breadth of the continent. There is certainly never a dull moment and it’s an exciting time to be alive. It’s an exciting time to live in Africa.