Doing Business In Africa Part 3: Technology & Social Connectivity

Doing Business In Africa Part 3: Technology & Social Connectivity

This is the 3rd post in the series, to read the first two, click here. Africa is on the rise as an emerging world market. Here are 10 more reasons why you should be doing business in Africa:

  1. Advertising explosion. In the last 3 years alone, advertising and major world brand recognition has gone from next to nothing to a whole new dimension. I was in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2009. When I returned 6 months later, billboards, adverts, street signage, company branding had exploded and appeared on nearly every street corner. In just 6 months.
  2. Shortening of the technology gap. In Africa's major cities, Africa has historically been 10-15 years behind the first world nations when it comes to technology. However, now that mobile is on the ground and the infrastructure is constantly being built, we are seeing a rapid shortening of this gap.
  3. Infrastructure opportunities. Currently, in the majority of African nations, it's very difficult for companies to connect with the outside-of-Africa-world, nor do they necessarily want to. But with internet opening up, and infrastructure continually being improved, it appears that many smaller African nations are priming to become major importers/exporters of the world's largest needs (oil, natural gas, and other typical commodities - precious metals, agriculture, timber, etc). Ghana has discovered oil. Namibia and other coastal nations have oil off the coast. The timber of West Africa is a hot commodity that the Chinese have been eyeing. The unmined diamonds and various mines throughout Zimbabwe and Mozambique are opportunities waiting to happen. And everyone knows what North Africa has - oil, oil, oil.
  4. Social Media African Growth. Facebook has been growing leaps and bounds in Africa. At the tune of 25 millions users.
  5. Record ROI in African Markets. This TED Talk in 2007 outlines how investment in Africa is recording record highs. Not just records for Africa, but records for the entire global economy.
  6. Research Pointing to African Markets. Vijay Mahajan's book Africa Rising: How 900 Million Consumers Offer More Than You Think [affiliate link] was a first. Dr. Mahajan went all across Africa, interviewing small business owners to the largest corporations executives in Africa. His findings were published in this book. He discusses the demographic breakdowns of the African markets and what it means to the business community and ascension throughout Africa.
  7. Up-To-Date Knowledge. With the increase of online book downloads, many African CEOs and business professionals are now reading what you and I are reading, when we are reading it. This gap of technology has shortened the gap in knowledge as well. And yes, if you have relationships, you can get an iPad or Kindle in Africa.
  8. Relationship Connectivity via Technology. Now when I say "relationships," I don't mean bribing someone, or paying them under the table, I just mean, you have a friend who visited South Africa and you ask them to pick up an iPad for you from the States...that's all I mean. Go ahead and connect with Africans on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn — there are more African professionals online than you think. And they'll be happy to offer you their opinions and ideas if you need to accomplish something in particular in Africa.
  9. African Immersion into Global Culture. As a whole, and yes, I know this is stereotypical, but Africans as a whole are interested in the United States of America, they are interested in the first world nations of Europe, and they have friends and family members that live there. They want to know more about you and are interested to help. Connect, network, get to know Africans in your local communities. One of my good friends (name not mentioned for obvious reasons which I will reveal just now) actually purchases Mercedes Benz cars, loads them with the custom Mercedes tires and ships containers with these cars to his home nation in West Africa annually. He makes enough money with his brother in just these deals to supplement his American professional salary. You might learn something.
  10. Intense Creativity & Knack for Business. Following up this point, Africans by nature are inspiringly creative. In Zimbabwe alone, their motto is "Make a plan." When the inflation caused prices to double every 24 hours for months, eventually causing the largest bill in the history of the world to be printed ($100 Trillion Note) and an economic meltdown unlike any other, you have to "make a plan" to survive. NOTE: Some of the most successful businesses in Southern Africa thrived during this time. Why? Because they did business with integrity, didn't play politics or corruption, and had a back up plan or two to reinvent themselves. Oh yeah, and you couldn't buy a loaf of bread without a wheelbarrow of money by the time it was all said and done: Wallpaper of Money.

We'll continue this discussion with one final post.

 featured photo via Graeme Nicol