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Corporate America’s Changing Views on Africa

June 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel

Baird, the management consulting firm, recently asked senior officers of 30 American Fortune 100 corporations about their current attitudes on investing in Africa. While some of the results showed that not much had  changed, the study also revealed that corporate America was increasingly optimistic about Africa’s role in their future business strategies. Three of the key points of the study, “Inside the Boardroom: How Corporate America Really Views Africa” are:

• USA Inc. is more interested in Africa than before, because the African market appears increasingly attractive, but Africa has tough competition and high hurdles for US investment. Education is at the top of the US corporate wish list for Africa; “educate your people so that we can employ them”

• The African countries that hold most interest are South Africa and some countries in the North, like Egypt; there are also some pockets of interest in West Africa, most notably Ghana, Nigeria and to some extent Angola; while some in the South (Botswana and Mozambique) and East (Uganda and Kenya), are also being watched

•To make itself more attractive for US investment, Africa should:

  • Invest in education , health and infrastructure
  • Ensure the rule of law and a business-friendly climate for all investing companies
  • Show it is serious about attracting foreign investment
  • Market itself as aggressively as other regions of the world
  • Demonstrate opportunity cost of not investing

A recent CNBC broadcast from Lagos, Nigeria (video below) also expounded on what Africa has to offer corporate America.

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Birth and boom of a new African design industry

Design Indaba 2009 setup
Image by mallix via Flickr

A recent article in African Business magazine looks at the recent boom of modern African designers on the continent and internationally. From February’s ThisDay Arise Magazine African fashion event at NY Fashion Week to architect David Adjaye being appointed to design the new African-American National Museum in Washindton DC, the influence of modern African design in global culture continues to solidify. But while there are more and more role models for budding African designers, there’s still a long way to go before Africa itself recognizes and taps into it’s strong creative capital.

To become truly competitive though, the continent must do things in
its own way, with its own brand of excellence and innovation. Africans
can grasp the best of design worldwide, as well as the best the
continent has to offer and transform it into something new, compelling,
beautiful and sustainable. Small pockets of success show that African
design development has reached the point at which it can play a very
real role in addressing poverty and unemployment throughout the
continent. From craft initiatives in rural villages to
multi-disciplinary industrial projects that boast global collaboration,
design can boost a nation’s GDP. (more)

CNN also reports on a new contemporary African design aesthetic in the video below shot at the 2009 Design Indaba in S. Africa.

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L’Oreal sets sights on African women

June 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Fashion, General

L'OrealThere’s no shortage of criticism of the fashion and beauty industry for not recognizing the diversity of what is considered beautiful. Cosmetics giants in particular have had it hard, trying to accommodate skin tones. In their effort to generate more revenue and gain market share globally, L’Oreal has announced plans to expand their product line and – most notably – make an effort to cater to African women’s beauty needs. Not being a cosmetics industry veteran myself it’s hard to tell if L’Oreal is trully addressing some of the issues it’s diversity critics have.

..the company, which has 26 international cosmetics brands and a presence in more than 130 countries, already has a presence on the continent upon which it aims to build. A key market is the African woman, and L’Oréal is seeking growth and expansion into this market, that will require balancing technological innovation with the need for prudent spending. – L’Oréal South Africa MD Philippe Raffray, more

What do you think?

photo by epicharmus

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