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Doing business in Africa

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Africa is definitely open for business and opportunities are aplenty for people who are willing to look for them.

According to Victor Kgomoeswana, business specialist and author of “Africa is Open for Business”, Africa is a continent of many backlogs, and all of those backlogs present opportunities for innovative African business people.

“Moving goods across Africa presents both challenges and opportunities. Infrastructure is not always developed or available, but with the right attitude, it can be done.”

Kgomoeswana, who will be a speaker at the PMA Fresh Connections Conference and Expo in Pretoria on 17 and 18 August, says he is very positive about business in Africa.

“I have always been an Afro-optimist. I am not a denialist, and I know that we face many challenges, but I do not believe that these are indicators of doom. In Africa we deal with many backlogs, but as much as these backlogs present challenges, each one of them represents an opportunity for an innovative African.”

He says South Africa is a bit isolated from the rest of the continent and businesses do not always look at the rest of Africa for opportunities.

“But this is definitely changing. Companies such as Shoprite and MTN are doing very well in Africa. Our mentality makes us lose out on great opportunities. If we change how we see the rest of Africa, we will be able to close the gap between us and the rest of Africa and we will unlock a world of opportunities.”

He says he managed to change his own attitude by reading a bigger variety of newspapers, including newspapers from the rest of Africa, and gathering information on the rest of the continent.

He learned that Africans can be very innovative and they are able to find solutions to market challenges.

“A great example of an innovation that has helped overcome the challenge of a lack of formal banks is M-Pesa (pesa is the Swahili word for money), a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and micro-financing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania.”

M-Pesa customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents, enabling them to deposit and withdraw money, transfer money to other users and non-users, pay bills and transfer money between the service and, in some markets like Kenya, a bank account.

“Everywhere in Africa you will find innovations like these. Africans are problem-solvers. If there is a problem, we make a plan. Africa is most certainly open for business.”

Victor Kgomoeswana will be one of the speakers during the Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference & Expo that will take place at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria on 17 and 18 August. Kgomoeswana's session is called "Our Next Opportunity: Africa's Emerging Consumer Markets".

To find out more about PMA Fresh Connections click here


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