With all the negative news one hears about Africa these days, the entire continent is often shrugged off as a disaster area. That’s bad thinking on all sorts of levels, but from a business perspective it’s just plain short-sighted. The Washington Post has a great article on Africa (reproduced here) that outlines a lot of surprising successes, the Ghana stock exchange for example, is among the world’s highest returning, and Botswana has a government savings rate rivled only by Singapore. But most importantly, throwing aid at Africa’s problems is only a small part of the solution. Investment and business confidence are, perhaps, the key missing ingredients to a new and prosperous continent.
Yet while Africa, according to the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corp., offers the highest return in the world on direct foreign investment, it attracts the least. Unless investors see the Africa that’s worthy of investment, they won’t put their money into it. And that lack of investment translates into job stagnation, continued poverty and limited access to education and health care.