US Business Leaders See Pockets of Opportunity in Africa, by Serena Parker

Thursday, July 7, 2005

American business leaders say they welcome the increased attention, but are quick to point out that while much of Africa remains mired in poverty and disease, there are pockets of opportunity.

Joseph Grandmaison, who sits on the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, says American companies shouldn’t be scared off by a conflict in one part of Africa.

“I tease friends by saying ’we’re not very good at geography.’ The fact is this is a gigantic continent and when you hear about one particular country having special challenges that doesn’t mean that two countries over doesn’t offer some spectacular economic opportunities,” said Mr. Grandmaison.

Mr. Grandmaison gives the example of a company out of Lagos, Nigeria that has an American business partner, which the Export-Import bank helped with financing. The company sells a mobile telephone called “the Buddy Phone,” which is 95 percent prepaid.

“Think about that. That’s funding your business on someone else’s money to say the least. Ninety-five percent prepaid with an average monthly bill of a $150. Think about it. An opportunity,” he noted.

According to Mr. Grandmaison, telecommunications is just one sector where U.S. companies could make inroads. He says other potential investment opportunities include environmental technologies and engineering, project management, information technology and agriculture equipment.
Story found here.

Source: VOA News