Africa Emerges: IESE Forum Spotlights Continent


Africa was among the fastest-growing regions in the world during 2001-08, with an average growth of 6 percent a year, according to Abdul B. Kamara of the African Development Bank. Kamara who spoke during the IESE forum "Emerging Africa and the Global Business Revolution."

Macroeconomic and structural reforms, reduced conflict, improved political climate, and a benign external environment, which included a commodity boom and search of foreign investors' for new markets, led to the continent's highest growth in decades, Kamara said.

Led by IESE's Center for Emerging Markets, the forum was held at the school's Barcelona campus on June 28-29. IESE Prof. Sanjay Peters spearheaded the event.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will prompt the United States to increasingly turn to West Africa rather than the Middle East for oil, said John Adeleke of the World Trade Center in Nigeria during his presentation on the first day of the conference.

Adeleke outlined recent developments in Nigeria, citing some of the challenges that often keep investors at bay such as lack of infrastructure. He stressed, however, the many opportunities available and an important lack of competition in the country of 150 million people. Adeleke described the rapid "rise of China" in the African country, where investors are entering diverse sectors such as oil, mining and services. At the same time, he said, the country is experiencing a rise in "indigenous" oil and gas companies, set up and headed by Nigerians.

In the same session, Romeu Rodrigues, CEO of CETA Sarl., described how Mozambique's market economy only began to take root in 1994. Today, a new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging and the country is prepared for new ventures, he said.

During the forum, the need for a strengthening of human resources in African countries through training and development was cited by speakers.

One of the main goals of the forum was to provide a clear overview of these markets in order to assist entrepreneurs and business leaders in gaining a deeper understanding of the risks and investment opportunities in Africa, since these markets are relatively unknown to firms.

A second related objective of the forum was to facilitate a platform for entrepreneurs, business consultants and directors of firms from Sub-Saharan African countries to meet with their European counterparts, so that their own business ventures and international competitiveness can be enhanced.