23 Oct Why is Africa Ignored by the Country it Would Most Prefer to do Business With?
Strange title isn’t it? Read on and you will understand.
If you were able to live and work in Sub Sahara Africa, which I have been lucky enough to do over the past thirty years, you would find out some very interesting facts. First of all, in many places you would find people that are in the USA “baby boomer” age category that speak very good English. And, many will tell you they were taught English by “the Americans”. What they will explain is that when they were young, Americans came over to many African countries under the Peace Corps program and taught them English, when they were in primary (elementary) school.
This historical fact alone built a foundation of appreciation of the USA and what they have done for Africa. Now myself, while I have done business in more than twenty African countries my “sweet spot” would definitely be East, and Southern Africa where I have the most experience. Specifically Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Throughout all these countries the USA, and her people, are held in very high regard. And this is not easy to do. I can tell you from my experiences on the ground in all these countries that Americans are more respected and appreciated than any other foreigners.
If so, why is it the Americans are the ones taking the least amount of interest in the economic renaissance of these same countries? In fact, the USA has the best possible starting point of any country in the world in many African countries. Yet, the USA is hardly in the game at all. If you take out the activities of GE, Caterpillar, Boeing, Exxon, Coca Cola and a few others in the tech field the USA business community is practically non-existent.
In exports to Africa alone, the USA hardly accounts for 10% of the 400B+ Africa will import this year. Take out Boeing, Caterpillar and GE and it falls to the low single digits!
And no, you don’t have to be one of the largest companies in the world to do business in Africa. But who knows, you may become one of the largest companies in the world if you set your sights on, and succeed in Africa!
I always hear, “Patrick, where are all the Americans?”. But I think President Museveni of Uganda may have said it best in front of a room full of American business people in Washington DC in 2014. In summary he said this:
“Now I am not a businessman, so correct me if I am wrong. The largest barrier to overcome in business is language or communications. We in Uganda speak English. We don’t understand any Chinese languages like Mandarin. Yet, of all the countries in the world, the Chinese are getting more of our business than anyone. Why is that?”
Very well said President Museveni.
So why is this happening? Simple, American’s know very little about Africa and only hear the sensationalized spattering of bad news the press force feeds them. Africa is decades ahead of what most Americans can imagine. Sounds crazy but it is true. The business people and investors that move now and learn exactly what is happening in today’s Africa will be handsomely rewarded. I encourage you to learn more about Africa and the opportunities there.
So now you may understand why Africa is being ignored, for the most part, by the people / country they would most prefer to do business with.
It is time for this to change.