Africa’s Top 9 Business Stories of 2009

by Margot Bokanga

1.  Telecommunications remained one of the fastest growing sectors in emerging markets last year, with African mobile phone use increasing more rapidly than anywhere else in the world.

2.  The East African Community emerged as the most evolving regional trade bloc on the continent, with major agreements and accomplishments achieved in 2009.

3.  African banks survived the global economic crisis by continuing to attract investment from across the continent and even from Asia with prudent lending and investment policies.

4.  Despite the global economic crisis, African economies continued to attract foreign investors like CDC Group who saw the continent’s impressive return on investment and potential for high rewards. 

5.  The Aid Trap, a unique approach to development written by Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan, proposed that the US government make direct loans to businesses in the developing world and encouraged investment in infrastructure.

6.  South-South trade and investment – particularly exports from Asia to Africa – tripled in the last five years, making Asia Africa’s third largest trading partner (27% of trade) after the EU (32%) and the US (29%).

7.  At the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, Africa emerged as a powerful bloc when the continent staged a successful, unified walkout to prevent African interests from falling by the wayside.

8.  While oil and mining has often been the main area for investment in Africa, in 2009 Africa offered new opportunities – particularly in the construction of undersea cables.

9.  The World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 report noted that the business environment is continuing to improve in key countries on the continent: in particular, Rwanda was ranked the world’s top business reformer and Mauritius became the first African country to break into the top 20 countries to do business.

The Base of the Pyramid: Room to Grow

by Tom Haslett

One of the most important questions facing multinational corporations today is whether they can make a profit with products and services marketed to the poor in developing countries. Many companies are actively exploring this approach with a variety of goods meant to reach consumers with limited expendable income: this is called a “bottom of the pyramid” strategy. As firms search for new opportunities, Africa represents a particularly large and attractive market to tap. Equally importantly, new innovations that earn a profit for their creators can also serve the continent’s people as a powerful tool for development. Continue reading

Rwanda and Mauritius: Doing Better Business in Africa

By Meg Dallett

Last week I attended the DC launch of the World Bank and IFC’s Doing Business 2010 report, which annually measures business reforms and ease of doing business around the world.  The report ranks countries using ten indicators of how long or arduous it is to do business in those countries – things like starting a business, getting credit, and enforcing contracts – and highlights countries that make progress in any of those areas. Continue reading

Uganda Update Spring 2009

uganda-update-spring-2009In this issue:

  • Uganda set to be among Africa’s strongest economies in 2009
  • Uganda secures African Development Bank funding to improve local markets
  • MTN Uganda launches mobile money transfer service
  • Computer education initiative wins Intel award
  • Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa launches African Seed Investment Fund
  • GroFin to invest $20 million to support small businesses
  • Uganda poised to become business outsourcing hub Continue reading

Markets: the Missing Link

The World Bank’s recent study, “Moving out of Poverty: Successes from the Bottom Up,” concludes that development interventions should be market-focused and outlines several key steps that are instrumental in helping people move out of poverty.  The study, which was conducted in a number of African countries, says that in order for people to move out of poverty, they should be surrounded by improved infrastructure, their livelihood activities should be linked to markets, and they need greater access to business loans and information and education on how to connect to mainstream markets. Continue reading

Africa’s Banks Still Afloat

Lately we’ve been inundated with news about US banks – whether they’re undervalued, failing, or refusing bailout funds because of too many Congressional stipulations associated with spending the money.

However, most people don’t know that not a single African bank has failed in the global financial crisis. Continue reading

Uganda Update Winter 2008-9

uganda-update-winter-2009-thumbIn this issue: World Food Program sources from Ugandan farmers, Uganda scores high on economic freedom index,  Uganda Investment Authority recognizes excellence in corporate responsibility, IMF says Ugandan economy will continue to grow, Asian investors offer to build oil pipeline, cement maker to double capacity, MTN Uganda pioneers online microfinance. Continue reading

Training for Growth

By Meg Dallett

“Entrepreneurship” is a hot topic in development – in much of Africa, where the private sector was marginalized for so long, small business owners are a key part of driving growth.  But running a successful business takes more than a good idea, and many entrepreneurs struggle because they lack training in business management.  Continue reading

Good vs. Bad Middlemen

People always ask me what I think is the key to economic development in Africa. Usually I focus on two challenges: getting capital in the hands of African entrepreneursand building infrastructure to reduce the cost of doing business on the continent. Lately, I have added a third: the lack of middlemen in the right sectors and the proliferation of them in the wrong sectors of African business. Continue reading