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

Mobile Banking in Malawi

On a recent trip to Malawi, my colleague Aubrey and I drove from the capital city of Lilongwe to Blantyre and back… roughly five hours each way.  The trip was longer than we expected, partly because we also made several stops so that Patrick, our driver, could distribute money to his relatives who lived in rural areas.  Continue reading

Empowering African Youth Through Technology

by Adanma Osakwe

Technology has become a major driving force for change and opportunity throughout the world. It has transformed many lives, and the unprecedented access to technology that today’s youth in Africa have allows them to compete with their peers in the global digital economy.

Young people gain a major advantage in terms of education, economic, and social opportunities when they have access to computers.  Strategic use of technology can boost wealth creation and alleviate unemployment– providing marginalized individuals in rural communities with technological tools for training can help them to realize their economic potential. 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

Multimodal Technologies for Africa

As new social phenomena, like Twitter, combine one technogical platform (SMS – short message service) with another (the internet), the feasibility of communicating has increased. This has particular relevance for Africa, which has the world’s most dense cell phone usage.  (With three out of every four people using cellular numbers as their primary number, cellular numbers in Africa are the closest thing to national ID numbers in most countries). And, as the highly anticipated fiber optic cable in East Africa comes online, Africa will be well-equipped to advance these multimodal technologies. Continue reading

Bottom of the Pyramid Builds the Bottom Line

Bottom of the pyramid strategies (BOP), where companies reach huge markets by selling inexpensive products designed for living conditions in developing countries, are helping companies like Coca Cola and Standard Chartered Bank better weather the global recession.  And true to the BOP model, success in emerging markets is transforming into innovation in developed markets as consumers face constrained cash flows and demand more value per unit purchased.  Continue reading

Africa Health News November-December 2008

ahn-1209-thumbSearch engine company Google announced in October that it awarded grants of more than $14 million to support researchers in Africa and Southeast Asia who are working to prevent the next pandemic. The initiative, known as Predict and Prevent, will be part of a global effort to identify hot spots where diseases may emerge, detect new pathogens circulating in animal and human populations, and respond to outbreaks before they become global crises. Continue reading