The global financial crisis hasn’t slowed the expanding role of business in Africa or the newfound passion for market expansion among Africans and foreign investors. Now its time to get rid of the trade barriers between countries.
Business in Africa is dynamic, growing, socially relevant, and historically peaking. Never in history has the sub-Saharan been home to so many diverse enterprises.
The great African independence era came during the high-water mark, globally, of state-controlled economies. In recent decades, market-oriented approaches took longer to take root in Africa than perhaps anywhere else in the world.
Now that Europe and the US are rediscovering the role of the state in the economy – and because of the financial crisis and over indebtedness – the reputation of the private-sector is declining and fewer people today view business as a solution to urgent problems than they once did.
In Africa, the state remains a central economic actor, but the global crisis hasn’t slowed the expanding role of business and the newfound passion for business profit and market expansion among Africans and foreign investors in the region.
The media, the international foreign-assistance community and the official diplomatic community remain largely blind to the exciting business developments in Africa.
That blindness is only partly accidental; the official “aid” community, including the media that often acts on its behalf by providing gloomy articles about Africa’s prospects, often appears to emphasize the bad over the good in the region, which means ignoring or undercutting reports of business prospects. And so, for me, I’m not surprised at the scant international attention being given a meeting of Africa’s private-sector elite in Kampala that’s devoted to convincing governments to reduce barriers to trade within the sub-Saharan.