Africa, they say, is not for sissies, nor is it the faint of heart – and judging by the number of companies who believe that all it takes to turn on the lights on in the dark continent is a bit of western enlightenment are the one who leave with their tails between their legs.
What entrepreneurs are increasingly finding is a market up-to-date with and in tune with global trends, hungry for innovation and very hostile to anything that has a whiff of exploitation.
There is a still a quick buck to be made from the gullible as in any market globally, but business with a long term view, who do their homework, which have integrity in their approach and a track record at their core are the ones that succeed.
What is more true is rather than being a “dark continent’ Africa like Gulliver is a rising giant flexing muscle as one country after another throws off the shackles of colonialism to embrace the new.
Nigeria, for example, is about to overtake for the first time ever the historical l economic giant that is South Africa in terms of its GDP. The continent has also led the way in cell phone banking, with millions of Africa’s conducting business at the touch of a cell phone screen.
Indicative on this ” revolution” is that In the first week of November, African heads of state, government ministers and top officials from the United Nations, African Union and private sector groups will gather in Dakar, Senegal to chart a plan for boosting the uptake of intellectual property tools to help stimulate economic and social development across the continent.
“Africa has a great tradition of innovation and creativity and innovation is a central driver of economic growth, development and better jobs,” says World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry. “It is the key for firms to compete successfully in the global marketplace.
African nations are embracing the knowledge-based economy in order to access the opportunities it offers for poverty reduction, enhanced agricultural productivity, as well as the prospects for industrial competitivity, which could pave the way for sustainable and inclusive development.
“Intellectual property is an indispensable mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets – IP rights create a secure environment for investment in innovation and provide a legal framework for trading in intellectual assets.”
And of course with this fast paced embrace of technical innovation, particularly communications, the opportunities for public relations professionals to ply their trade are opening up like sunflowers turning towards a rising sun.
PRGN partner in South Africa, HWB Communications, based in Cape Town has over the years, launched al number of successful campaigns south of the Sahara for global clients wanting to be heard in Africa markets.
A second agency based in Harare Zimbabwe is about to join the close to 50 member network giving real meaning to the PRGN’ s reputation of being the “world’s local agency”.
One research document after another reminds those who want to do business to carefully study the environment before they “boldly go”‘. Those who arrive want to exploit the market fail; those who seek to partner with existing successful African business are the ones most likely to succeed.