Friday, February 01, 2008

Why Is Michigan Ignorning African Investments? by Akindele Akinyemi


We are into a global market in 2008. The rest of Michigan is talking about investing in China (which I am not against at all). But we never talk about investing in Africa.

I spoke on recently about developing urban regional networks to a group of young entrepreneurs on how we should be in the business of investing in Africa. Most people would disgree with this idea due to the "political instability" in Africa. It cannot be as bad as it is here. I mean look at who we have for Governor (Jennifer Granholm) and here in Detroit we have a lying, cheating Mayor who has no integrity. But he goes to Africa all the time and for what? No one knows.

Gov. Granholm expressed her concerns in terms of turning Michigan into an alternative energy place during her State of the State address. Urban Michigan must be able to engage in direct trade with Africa. Since the Governor OR Mayors of urban communities never bring this up this might be a way for urban conservatives to help forge free market policies the help with economic development here in places like Detroit, Benton Harbor and even Inkster.

Nigeria is the 10th best place to do business in Africa in 2007, a study by the London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional service firm, and the World Bank Group, has revealed.

Sweeping economic reforms in many African countries have turned the world's attention towards Africa as conditions in many African countries are beginning to become more conducive to business development. Positive moves and policies adopted by many African governments have played a significant role in promoting Africa as a viable business partner in the global market. Exchange rates have been liberalized; restrictions on imports have been removed; tariffs are being reduced; price controls on agricultural products and manufactured goods have been removed; steps have been taken to address the financial stress on banks; and economic growth has picked up to around 4 per cent overall for the continent. All these factors have contributed in the development of a thriving local and international business community within Africa.

Urban Michigan must become the leaders in developing an economic development package that will help open doors for trade, international education and rebuilding families. After decades of failed socialist policies that has ravaged our community we must begin to think globally. Economics, not politics, are the keys to eradicating poverty in our communites. I find it interesting that NO presidential candidates have included Africa as an economic discussion. I have found it interesting that NO political party in this country have included Africa (including the Diaspora) in their conversation in terms of economic development and connecting urban areas across Michigan to the continent.

Make no mistake when I am speaking about Africa I am not talking about this from a cultural/Black Nationalist point of view. We already know that Black Nationalism has failed in the Black community. Along with the failure of Black Nationalism the Black church has failed in our community as well. The church has failed in terms of helping our familes stay intact as well as failing to become an economic engine for our community. We are so socialized that we forget that it takes economics to help sustain our communities. And I cannot talk about how many churches have been bought out by the Democratic Party in the urban communities here in Michigan. Anytime Mayor Kilpatrick can HIDE in his own church, begging for forgiveness (like he did in 2005 when he was running for re-election) from infidelity and lies under oath and the Black Church enbraces him ANYWAY I know that Christianity has failed the Black community here.

However, Christianity is working in Africa due to strong family values and strict traditional values. I said last year that urban conservatives (including those in the Republican Party) should be looking at Ghanians, Nigerians and other groups across the Diaspora to help strengthen our position politically and economcially to attract a new consstituency. African people are serious about their faith than most of us here in the states.

As a new frontier and the next emerging market, Africa is a continent that investment firms cannot afford to ignore. From Tunis to Cape town and from Dakar to Mogadishu, African societies exhibit unparalleled dynamism and changing attitudes. Several countries are currently linked to the information superhighway; some of them even have CNN or other European networks.

Urban Conservatives here in Michigan must be in the business of develoing serious relations between Africa and Urban Michigan. Now in the 21st century, these relations will become more strategically important. With a population of nearly 700 million, Africa is a continent with enormous physical resources. As a sizeable potential market, it is a continent that companies in Michigan cannot afford to ignore. However, one of the keys to successful business with Africa is a good understanding of African business culture. How does African business culture differ from the this business culture here in Michigan? How should Michigan companies introduce themselves to the African buyers? These are important questions for the local entrepreneur because success or failure in Africa will depend on the ability to understand and adjust to Africa s dynamic market. The complex and changing African environment requires businessmen to have a degree of flexibility. The potential for turbulence requires businessmen to monitor and assess the political risks in the countries with whom they are doing business.

The countries that Urban Michigan should consider investing in heavily according to
The World Economic Forum from its comprehensive Africa Competitiveness Report, published in collaboration with the Harvard Institute for International Development.

1. Mauritius, 2. Tunisia, 3. Botswana, 4. Namibia, 5. Morocco, 6. Egypt, 7. South Africa, 8. Swaziland, 9. Ghana, 10. Lesotho, 11. Cote d'Ivoire, 12. Zambia, 13. Kenya, 14. Uganda, 15. Burkina Faso, 16. Tanzania, 17. Ethiopia, 18. Mozambique, 19. Cameroon, 20. Zimbabwe, 21. Malawi, 22. Nigeria, 23. Angola.

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