Africa: the last untapped market

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WINDHOEK – The World Bank recently raised its economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa for the next 12 months, predicting that the region will grow by more than 5 percent as a result of strong domestic demand and higher production of commodities. This ties in with the International Monetary Fund’s prediction that growth rates for emerging economies will be higher than in advanced economies – another sign that the time is ripe for investment in the continent.

 

This comes as no surprise to emerging markets expert, Professor John Luiz, from the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB). “It is clear that Africa is the last untapped market, one of the largest in fact,” he said.

 

Luiz is the academic director of the South African pilot programme run in conjunction with the world’s top business schools in emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), a programme that is the result of a unique partnership between the five emerging markets. South Africa has, for the first time, joined the programme following an expressed interest by participants about the business environment on the African continent.

It is envisioned that the GSB will in future become a formal part of the BRICS programme. The importance of including Africa becomes clear considering that countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone and Rwanda have some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The World Bank also raised the medium-term economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa to 5.5 percent, up from 5.2 percent, which was predicted six months ago.

The programme is designed to offer business leaders an insider’s understanding of the issues impacting business and the economy in BRICs countries. Participants benefit from interactions with leading economic and industry experts as well as academics, and interact directly with local businesses and cultures during visits to the respective countries.

 

“I would argue that there is nothing like this programme on the market,” said Luiz. “While there are many programmes in emerging markets, none of them actually consist of formal relationships with all the top business schools in these markets. It is an incredibly powerful programme from that respect,” he added.

Talking about the programme, Zandile Nkhata, Director of Business Development at the GSB, says the combination of macro and micro-level perspectives allows participants to see and assess the opportunities available to them in emerging markets, and then to co-create new, more appropriate, business models for these markets that take into account developmental needs. “The programme combines economic and academic input with business insight along with exposure to local culture and history, which all impacts on business,” she says.

How to actualise opportunities forms a core part of the programme. “Business operations in Africa are different and we focus on giving participants a better understanding on how to penetrate the market and build relationships that will lead to a successful business operation,” remarked Luiz.

 

By Staff Reporter

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