Posts Tagged ‘West Africa ’

The Disruptor: Dr. Ngozi Oknjo-Iweala

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

An African Narrative

The misdeeds of Africa’s despots get plenty of media attention because they fit a Western “plug-n-play” narrative about the region. Conversely, the work of Africa’s exemplary leaders is often overlooked.

I’d offer the story of an extraordinary African leader determined to improve the quality of life in her nation. She’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was recently appointed Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

In her previous stint in that role, she compiled a stunning record of economic reform. She was the first woman to serve as her country’s Finance Minister and as its Foreign Minister.

Okonjo-Iweala is an inveterate disruptor of the status quo who is guided by her vision for what’s possible and a zeal for instigating change.

Stories like hers give rise to an emergent narrative that’s being written by Africans. As she puts it, “This is the Africa of opportunity. This is the Africa where people want to take charge of their own futures and their own destinies.”

(more…)

Dispatch from West Africa

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

iStock_000000384450Small

Downtown Cape Coast, Ghana

Pulsating business scene

I spent the last couple weeks on assignment in Accra, Ghana. On this trip, I’ve seen more growth than any time since my company started working there in ’07. This is a period of unprecedented business activity and promising new projects within and beyond the mobile sector.  Meanwhile, new competitors from around the world are streaming in. This corner of Africa’s business scene is pulsating.

Astute businesses here are taking steps to preserve their client base and deepen relationships with their customers. We’re privileged to work with a new generation of African business leaders with the courage and determination to transform their offerings to meet the needs of an emerging class of consumers.

(more…)

Celebrating Our African Adventure

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

osprey_africa1

Ex Africa semper aliquid novi — Out of Africa always something new. ~Pliny the Elder

This week marks my company’s 3rd anniversary of working in Africa within our emerging markets service practice. Helping companies in the region to understand and serve the needs of their customers has been enriching on a personal level.  I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the growth of the sub-Sahara’s nascent service industry and I marvel at its favorable impact on a growing number of people in the region.

The ascendant mobile industry illustrates the point.  On a continent where few people have landlines due to the high cost of installing cabling, cell phones are bridging the communications gap. In many sub-Saharan markets, like Ghana where we work, mobile growth rates have been approaching 50% annually. While less than 20% have mobile phones now, hundreds of millions of Africans are expected to get handsets in the next few years. Keep in mind that this is a continent of almost a billion people. That’s a lot of potential new subscribers.

(more…)

Ghana in the “R=G World”

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Having just returned from Ghana, I was keenly interested Roger Cohen’s NYT piece today. He says,

In my lifetime, conditions have grown immeasurably better, freer and more prosperous for a majority of humanity, yet hand-wringing about the miserable remains the reflex mode for most coverage of planet earth.

Nowhere more so than in Africa, from which I’d just returned when the e-mail landed. During a short stay in Ghana, which will hold free elections in December, Vodafone had bought a majority stake in Ghana Telecom for $900 million (entering a fiercely competitive mobile-phone market) and I’d heard much about 6 percent annual growth, spreading broadband and new high-end cacao ventures.

Accra, the capital, is buzzing. Russian hedge funds are investing. New construction abounds. Technology enables people in the capital to text money transfers via mobile phone to poor relatives in the bush.

I think most of Cohen’s points are well taken. He doesn’t mention the discovery of oil off Ghana’s coast and the country’s fiber projects or the investments being made by multinationals in the country’s business infrastructure.  The business climate in the region is improving, albeit in successive approximations.  The country’s services sector — chiefly teleco and financial services — are contributing to Ghana’s high annual growth rate.  Inflation is a growing concern, but so far it’s been manageable.  The process leading up to this December’s election should be interesting.  So far so good.

It’s also true that Africa’s success stories aren’t newsworthy to many news consumers.  We mostly hear about war, corruption, disease and rampant poverty.  On this point, I recommend Charlayne Hunter Gault’s New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance,” — it’s  chiefly about South Africa, but pertinent to the problem of media coverage across the continent.

If Ghana’s political environment remains stable and forward-looking, the country will be in a position to contribute even more of its stalwart intellectual capital to a “globalized” resource (R=G) community in the coming years.  So, even if the global media is fixated on the region’s challenges, the numbers will support a different story.  So look for Ghana and other gazelle nations of the sub-Sahara to lead the way.