By Alex Sanders
If you ask people around the world which countries and continents are global leaders in business, most likely you’ll hear the United States, China, and European countries come up. However, a shift appears to be happening: Africa is starting to emerge as a real player in world commerce.
Because of its natural resources, younger population, and growing middle class, Africa is becoming an attractive option for investors and corporations. This article will explore some of the ways Africa is raising its profile in global business.
From hosting more summits and conferences to entrepreneurship and innovation, foreign direct investment, and regional integration, Africa is demonstrating a potential to drive economic growth and shape the future of the global economy.
Access to Worldwide Conferences/Meetings
Nobody will claim that Covid-19 was good for the planet. However, as happened during other unfortunate events in history, people learned to innovate and adapt, and managed to achieve progress nonetheless.
An example is the amount of medicine and technological advances that occurred during World War II. Nobody will ever say that war was a high point in world history. However, without it, we might not have discovered penicillin or sulfa drugs for many years thereafter.
The same might be said about Covid-19 and virtual meetings. Although Zoom and other video platforms existed well before the pandemic, when people had no option but to meet online it finally became mainstream.
Yes, this probably would have transpired eventually, but the pandemic definitely sped up the potential for international meetings to occur without having to meet in person.
Historically, Africa as a continent has not played a substantial role in national and international business gatherings. Now that many meetings and conferences are conducted virtually, access for African businesses to attend and host has never been more practical.
Many of the other advances discussed below may directly correlate with virtual meetings that have made connections so much easier.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Entrepreneurs are thriving in Africa. Many individuals have started businesses there. This entrepreneurial spirit has driven innovation across many fields, including technology, agriculture, healthcare, and renewable energy.
As a result, Africa is witnessing the emergence of successful startups and homegrown proposals that are not only solving local challenges but attracting attention on the global stage.
Foreign Direct Investment
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa has risen in recent years. African nations attract significant FDI inflows worldwide with their natural resources, which has expanded consumer markets and improved business environments. In 2021, Africa saw $83 billion in FDI.
National and local governments are bringing in policies to encourage FDI and create a business climate by offering incentives and tax breaks. As the continent continues to attract foreign investors, it will strengthen its position in the global business arena, fostering economic growth and promoting sustainable development.
Regional integration is playing a pivotal role in Africa’s involvement in commerce. African countries increasingly recognize the benefits of working together and fostering intra-African trade.
Initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aim to create a single broad market, promote the free movement of goods and services, and facilitate cross-border investments.
Africa is unlocking new business opportunities to expand individual countries’ operations across borders by eliminating trade barriers, harmonizing regulations, and enhancing regional infrastructure. One example of this is the number of ports on the western coastline of Northern Africa.
Historically, local and national economies struggled to maintain and run effective ports, but these are flourishing now that adjacent nations are contributing.
Investments in infrastructure development are also transforming Africa’s business landscape. Governments and international partners are investing in transportation networks, energy projects, digital connectivity, and industrial zones.
Improved infrastructure facilitates the movement of goods and people, reduces transportation costs, and enhances overall business efficiency. Infrastructure development also creates employment opportunities, stimulates economic activities, and attracts domestic and foreign investments.
Projects such as ports, airports, railways, and power-generation facilities are crucial for Africa’s integration into global supply chains and its ability to attract multinational corporate partners. Cairo has seen a 23% increase in airline passenger traffic since 2019, and many other countries have begun to welcome more international travel.
Business across the planet is rapidly evolving. The traditional powerhouse nations will continue to dominate business, but other markets can take a seat at the table.
Africa is already showing it is ready to take advantage of the opportunity. The question becomes: How far can they go?