In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Center of Gravity is Shifting North

February 16, 2016    

One of the most important trends in global business is the evolution of Sub-Saharan African (SSA) economies. Over at AAG, we’re seeing signs of it every day, and it’s pushing us to revise the conventional wisdom about SSA’s role in the world marketplace.

For global companies, not long ago “doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa,” usually meant “doing business in South Africa.” Unless these enterprises were working in the agriculture or extractive sectors, or they were an NGO, not-for-profit, or research based institution, organizations were rarely setting up shop outside of South Africa, the continent’s hub and a favourite destination for international business.

But Sub-Saharan Africa is a dynamic continent, and its business, political and social dynamics are changing. In recent years, I’ve seen more and more businesses take the leap not just into South Africa, but into Francophone and Angolphone West African and East African countries, expanding the map of global business in Africa – but also taking major risks and reaping rewards – after investing in building a “long-term” blueprint for success (or – failure if managed poorly).

Why? SSA’s commercial environment and institutions are largely supportive of businesses and foreign investors.

Based on my experience having lived, travelled and worked in over 33 African countries as a Canadian diplomat, entrepreneur, NGO advisor, board director where I advised companies, NGOs and governments in navigating the challenges of doing business in SSA, today’s hottest destinations are Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Cameroon, in West Africa.

The most compelling selling-point for investors are large populations of young Africans with promising and bright futures. Additionally, these countries are investing in education, health, energy, infrastructure (social and hard), science, technology and innovation – core pillars to spark, build, and transform an economy (yes, the critics will say there is more to it; but this is for illustration purposes).

Over in East Africa, Kenya has become an international business hotspot. Nairobi, its capital, is a global metropolis and easy two-hour flight to several other East African countries. Additionally, Ethiopia is leading an educational revolution. For example, the Ethiopian Government committed 70 per cent of their domestic budget to pro-poor activities including education, health, agriculture and food security at the Sustainable Development Summit to Kickstart Implementation of Global Goals.

It’s time we focus on a new group of countries concentrated in SSA – since global markets are changing and you need to keep up – or risk being squeezed out by your competitors.

The map of opportunities is now wide open. Are you steering your organization toward profitable growth?

About the Author

Omar Allam_web





As founder/chief executive officer of the Allam Advisory Group, Omar Allam manages a global team of former C-level executives, high-ranking diplomats and industry experts that specialize in global strategy and market entry implementation across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.