How Africa is becoming a global business giant

Africa Business

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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

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.

Infrastructure Development

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?

SEC seeks collaboration to enhance economic growth in Nigeria

Nigerian Tribune

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has called for collaboration between the government and market participants to enhance market growth and facilitate economic development.

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, made the call while addressing journalists at the 2023 conference of the Capital Market Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CAMCAN) held in Lagos at the weekend.

Yuguda said synergy holds the potential of unleashing capital market prowess and paving the way for a prosperous future.

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According to him, achieving the objective necessitates an increased utilisation of market mechanisms and instruments to raise funds and stimulate economic advancement.

He pointed out that the commission would continue to introduce new ideas and policies that could support the development and regulation of a capital market that is dynamic, fair, transparent, and efficient to contribute to the nation’s economic development, noting that investors protection play a crucial role in the development and integrity of the capital market.

“Effectively harnessing the capital market for national. development entails a multi-faceted approach, these include deploying more infrastructure, fostering more public-private partnerships, establishing specialised entities like special purpose vehicles (SPVs), listing state-owned enterprises, issuing green bonds to support sustainable projects, and bolstering small and medium enterprises among others.

Yuguda, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner Operations, SEC, Mr Dayo Obisan, said by adopting these c approaches, government and market participants can create a dynamic capital market that attracts diverse investments, fuels economic growth and contributes significantly to national development goals.

He assured that the commission was poised to create an enabling environment and facilitate oversight and regulatory framework that would continue to deepen the market support development.

According to him, the revised capital market master plan underscored SEC’s commitment to deepening and. repositioning the financial market as a key driver of sustainable economic growth.

“The master plan which represents collective aspirations of the capital market community is focused on driving initiatives geared towards growing and deepening the market with the ultimate goal of accelerating the emergence of our dear country in the top 20 economies by the year 2025,” Yuguda said.

He, however, assured that the commission would remain committed to supporting efforts aimed at addressing the financial literacy and empowerment gap in society.

Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Director, SEC Lagos Zonal office, Mr John Briggs, urged the government to create infrastructure financing instruments that could facilitate servicing of obligations.

“We have encouraged a lot of infrastructure funds like sukuk, and green bonds and we are even talking about blue bonds to develop the market.

“The capital market has created the conducive environment to ensure a transparent and dynamic market which would continue to attract investment,” he said.

Earlier, the Chairman of CAMCAN, Mrs Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma, said the yearly workshop was part of the association’s contributions to the development of the nation’s economy.

According to her, the forum had consistently served as an avenue for regulators, operators, and company executives to brainstorm on issues that affect the market and economy.

She said the theme of this year’s conference

‘Leveraging Capital Market in Financing The National Development Plan’ was predicated on the compelling need to properly execute the National Development Plan, with the capital market as the hub of medium- and long-term sources of finance.

“It’s no longer news that Nigeria, according to the World Bank, needs $3 trillion to close its infrastructure deficit with funding requirements estimated at between $100 billion and $150 billion annually in the next 10 years.

“The plan, introduced in 2021, aims to generate 21 million jobs and lift 35 million people out of poverty by 2025, thus setting the stage for achieving the government’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“All these projections can only achieved, and challenges solved, through proper utilisation of the capital market by creating new asset classes and portfolio diversification. All hands must be on deck to address these challenges to achieve economic growth and development.”

South Africa’s current account deficit narrows sharply in third quarter

Reuters News

FILE PHOTO: South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

South Africa’s current account deficit narrowed sharply in the third quarter of 2023, to 0.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) from a revised 2.7% in the second quarter, central bank data showed on Thursday.

In rand terms, the current account recorded a deficit of 19.3 billion rand ($1.02 billion) for the July-September period from a revised 185.2 billion rand deficit in April-June.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a deficit of 111.2 billion rand or 1.9% of GDP in the third quarter.

The trade surplus grew to 189.1 billion rand in the third quarter compared to 22.2 billion rand in the second quarter.

“The value of merchandise imports decreased more than that of goods exports,” the South African Reserve Bank said in a statement accompanying the data.

On Tuesday, the statistics agency released third-quarter GDP figures which showed a slight rise in exports although overall output contracted. The rise in exports was driven by vehicles, precious metals and vegetable products among other things, the GDP data showed. ($1 = 18.9450 rand)

South Africa’s net foreign reserves rise to $56.319bln in Nov

Reuters News

FILE PHOTO: A street money changer counts South African rand in Harare, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

South Africa’s net foreign reserves rose to $56.319 billion at the end of November from $55.510 billion in October, central bank data showed on Thursday.

Gross reserves increased to $61.721 billion in November from $60.962 billion in October. The forward position, which represents the central bank’s unsettled or swap transactions, was unchanged at $0.508 billion from $0.508 billion.

South African economy contracts 0.2% q/q in third quarter

Reuters News

Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters Image used for illustrative purpose only

South Africa’s economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter of 2023 in quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted terms, compared to revised growth of 0.5% in the previous quarter, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday.

Q3 2023 sees stealthy 4% jump in agriculture export earnings in SA

Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

The latest trade data update from Trade Map shows another impressive performance from the agriculture sector with the value of export earnings jumping by 4% year-on-year to $3.9bn. The increased seasonal availability from bumper harvests in the horticulture and field crops underpinned this stellar performance.

Although slightly firmer in Q2, the rand exchange rate exchange rate depreciated by 14.4% year-on-year in Q3 2023 thus enhancing earnings in addition to the increased volumes and better prices for some of the products.

Major commodities exported included citrus, maize, apples and pears, nuts, wine, soybeans, sugar, and fruit juices. Citrus was already on its way to another excellent seasonal export performance towards the end of Q3 2023 with volumes up by 3% year-on-year at 159.1 million cartons (15kg) as of week 39, which is 96% of the original industry estimate.

Maize continued to enjoy strong growth in exports with an impressive 8.5% year-on-year surge in volumes exported at 1.64 million tonnes in Q3 dominated by yellow maize (81%) followed by white maize (19%) according to the South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS) data.

The path forward

The sector must continue to agitate for gains in market share and expand to new markets. Retaining and growing the export market provides an opportunity for expansion and foreign earnings.

This stellar performance was however not without hurdles and the longstanding trade distortions such as the uncompetitive phytosanitary measures on citrus by the EU, dilapidated roads, challenges at ports and railway infrastructure are yet to be finally concluded. Nonetheless, navigation around these issues with increased collaboration between industry players and Transnet has played a huge role in ensuring this good performance.

Further, the sector is constantly adapting to the changing landscape and has expanded despite tough conditions. More work is needed to unlock new markets and improve logistics in terms of rail and ports all of which are achievable through increased collaboration with government and the relevant State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Seizing opportunities

The long-term outlook is still positive on the back of the renewed impetus to open export markets following the conclusion of deals for exports of avocados to China and the reopening of the Saudi Arabian market for SA meat. The sector should take advantage of the recent success of the BRICS summit in SA to explore this market with 6 additional members.

From a volume perspective, the sector should take advantage of increased capacity in terms of prior investment in orchards with the non-bearing equivalent for citrus commodities at approximately 43%, 31%, and 21% for soft citrus, lemons, and grapefruit respectively. Even larger percentages are estimated for macadamias and avocados with non-bearing equivalents of 63% and 51% respectively. South African agriculture is therefore geared for export business and the wheels must continue to turn.

Nigerian banks’ credit to economy rises to in July 2023

Nigerian Tribune

Photo taken in Lagos, Nigeria. Getty Images Image used for illustrative purpose.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) most recent monthly economic report shows that deposit money banks (DMB’s) total credit extension to the economy increased to N38.3billion in Jul 2023 from N37.5billion in the previous month.

Specifically, the report shows that credit extension to the leading services sector was up by 3percent month on month (m/m) to N19.9billion. Consequently, its share of the total credit increased to 52.0percent from 51.6percent the previous month.

On a year on year basis (y/y) basis, their credit lending to the economy grew markedly by 39 percent y/y.

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The modest credit growth quarter on quarter (q/q) is attributable to banks’ tighter risk management framework due to the high-interest rate environment.

According to the report, DMBs’ credit growth to the services, industry, and agriculture sectors saw a slight m/m increase.

With respect to the three economic classifications, analysts from FBNQuest said the services sector has continued to outperform all other sectors for the past ten quarters. Additionally, the sector has been the primary driver of expansion in Nigeria’s economic activity.

The sector’s consistent robust growth has been supported by strong performances in sectors such as financial and insurance, information and communications, and trade.

The industry sector was the second-largest recipient of DMBs credit extension. It grew by a flattish (+1% m/m).

However, its contribution to the total share of credit reduced to 43.5 percent from 43.2percent.

Although DMBs credit growth to the agriculture sector increased by a paltry 1percent m/m, its share of contribution to total credit declined to 4.8percent from 4.9percent.

The report also shows that banks’ loans to consumers decreased by -3percent m/m to N2.6billion. Consequently, its share of the total credit allocation was reduced to 6.7percent from 7percent the previous month.

Underscoring the decline in consumer loans is the weaker demand for household credit caused by the elevated interest rate environment.

South Africa’s resilience revolution

Johannesburg City Skyline. Aerial View Of Illuminated Buildings In City At Night. – stock photo Photo taken in Johannesburg, South Africa. Image Courtesy: Getty Images Image for illustrative purpose
Getty Images/EyeEm

Employee engagement is the key to success amidst crisis.

Impacted by significant challenges, including a global pandemic, civil unrest, economic hardships and environmental disasters, South Africa stands at a crossroads. In this complex landscape, one spotlight-stealing factor cannot be ignored – employee engagement. The secret to navigating this arduous situation lies in the hearts and minds of its workforce. Employee engagement isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the linchpin of success. It’s the pulse that defines success or failure in these turbulent times.

In 2023, Bateleur Brand Planning, a recognised authority in market research and employee engagement, conducted the Vantage Point survey1, revealing that the key to thriving amidst adversity, the antidote to stagnation, and the catalyst for growth are engaged employees, the lifeblood of a resilient South Africa.

Impact of remote work

Remote work has become a prominent part of the South African work landscape. In this survey sample, 20% of the respondents worked from home, 47% from their offices, and 33% enjoyed a hybrid model. They spanned diverse industries, including education, health, retail, ICT, civil services, banking, insurance,

The research indicates that work-from-home employees are more satisfied with their working arrangements (74%) compared to those required to work at the office (54%). Hybrid workers fall in between, with 67% satisfaction.

Engagement levels vary significantly based on working style. Remote workers are the most engaged (62%), followed by hybrid workers (60.5%). Conversely, employees in entirely office-based roles have the lowest engagement (43.9%).

Older employees are generally more engaged than younger counterparts.

Engagement correlates positively with education and income, with better-educated and higher-income employees exhibiting higher engagement levels.

Interestingly, employees living in neighbouring countries have significantly higher engagement levels at 69.5%, raising questions about South Africa’s engagement challenges.

Engagement levels are less than ideal

In South Africa, current employee engagement levels fall short, with 53% of employees engaged, 27% neutral, and 20% disengaged.

– Engaged employees: Typically exhibit positive, committed, focused, and motivated behaviours with a ‘we’ mentality.

– Neutral employees: Tend to be passive, freewheeling, and content with achieving ordinary outcomes, exhibiting an ‘I’ mentality.

– Disengaged employees: Are often negative, rebellious, distracted, and indifferent, wishing they were elsewhere, displaying a ‘they’ mentality.

These results have remained relatively consistent over the past five years, with a slight increase during the initial Covid-19 pandemic. However, they have since regressed. This underscores the need for improvements in fostering a more engaged workforce, which is crucial for organisational success.

Factors influencing employee engagement

Leadership and organisational culture play a pivotal role in driving employee engagement. Purpose-driven leadership, characterised by vision, long-term objectives, and strategic planning, emerged as a critical factor. Effective leaders should exhibit emotive and personality skills, such as empathy and appreciation, while also possessing rational and functional skills, like decisiveness and guidance.

The urgent need for change

Gordon Hooper, Bateleur’s managing director, said: “South Africa’s economy and society face numerous challenges, and employee engagement plays a crucial role in addressing these issues. Achieving a highly engaged workforce requires inspirational and inclusive leadership. The statistics reveal a strong link between employee engagement, general happiness, and optimism for the country’s future.”

Call to action

South Africa’s economic future hinges on a substantial increase in employee engagement, which calls for a shift towards inspirational and inclusive leadership. Organisations should prioritise leadership development and foster cultures that emphasise empathy, appreciation, setting a good example, purpose-driven leadership, decisiveness, and guidance.

By prioritising leadership development and creating an inspirational and inclusive environment, South Africa can unlock the potential of its workforce, driving progress and prosperity for the nation.

Africa’s economic growth to slow in 2023, AfDB says as it slashes forecasts

The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 16, 2016.
Reuters Images/Luc Gnago

Africa’s economic growth to slow in 2023, AfDB says as it slashes forecasts.
Real GDP growth is set to fall to 3.4% this year from 4% in 2022, before rising to 3.8% in 2024, the AfDB said in a report. In May, it predicted the economy would expand 4% in 2023 and 4.3% in 2024, after growing 3.8% in 2022.

The “scarring long-term effects” of the Covid-19 pandemic combined with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sending food and energy prices shooting upwards in 2022 have held back Africa’s initially strong economic recovery from the pandemic, the bank said.

“These factors have been compounded by…pockets of political instability across the continent, weak export demand due to tepid global growth, monetary policy tightening and associated increased cost of borrowing,” it added.

Most African countries have been locked out of international debt markets by prohibitively high interest rates since early 2022, with Ghana defaulting and Ethiopia stating it intends to restructure its single overseas bond.

The AfDB’s biggest cut to a 2023 growth forecast was for central Africa, where there has been a coup in Gabon and ongoing conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, to 4.1% from 4.9% in May.

East Africa’s growth forecast was cut by 0.7% to 3.4%, amid civil war in Sudan and with Kenya under pressure to repay or refinance a $2bn bond maturing in June 2024. North Africa’s growth forecast was also cut by 0.7%.

Southern Africa is set to record the continent’s lowest growth in 2023, at 1.6%, as rolling powercuts constrain output in the region’s largest economy South Africa.

Countries that don’t export commodities are expected to experience a higher rate of economic growth, even as that for commodity exporters falls.

South Africa producer inflation quickens to 5.8% y/y in October

Reuters News

Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters Image used for illustrative purpose only

South Africa’s producer inflation quickened to 5.8% year on year in October from 5.1% in September, statistics agency data showed on Thursday.

On a month-on-month basis, the producer price index was at 1.0% in October from 1.5% the previous month, Statistics South Africa said.