The choices seem to become tighter with the passing of time and events. China still represents immense opportunity, although the price of entry is very high and complicated. The Caribbean is sated. In the Middle East they are still building (unbelievably), but there are doubts about sustainability. South America holds promise, although there is a tendency to nationalize businesses or very immediate changes in governments (in the US, we use elections, other countries use coups). Brazil with the World Cup in soccer did establish some of the visions for success. One of the last continents for consideration has been Africa.
Many of us really do not know very much about Africa. We are somewhat familiar with historic imperialism, very bloody rebellions, the sad story of slavery, yet understand the glories of nature and wildlife, vast natural resources and human resiliency. However, how many countries and leaders can you name? Africa is a great unknown.
President Obama recently held a summit for 50 African leaders and government representatives to open “… talks on expanding trade, improving security and strengthening government accountability across Africa”. This was bold initiative. As the Voice of America News captured the moment, President Obama stated "With some of the world's fastest growing economies, a growing middle class and the youngest and fastest-growing population on earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before".
The Summit has resulted in a $33 billion pledge to Africa from both private and public sources. This is a huge beginning, for many African countries still suffer from lack of electricity, basic necessities and infrastructure. But, promise there is, as Coca-Cola, IBM and Marriott, for example, are planning investment. Not to place a damper on the potential, Africa faces a real demon – the Ebola virus. This outbreak is jumping country boundaries. There is no cure to date. We in the US are being promised that the dreaded infection shall be contained; the population in Africa has no such assurance. How this Ebola scourge will be managed really is the most important signal for Africa as an emerging player on the economic and geo-political stage, for your people must be healthy first. That is where Western expertise and resources should be directed initially, in conjunction with private sector investment. Move on from all these wars; we have a continent at risk!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog, focusing on anything and everything about customer experience. LRA Worldwide is the leading global provider of Customer Experience Measurement services for multinational companies with complex customer interactions. For over 30 years, LRA’s innovative brand standards audits, quality assurance inspections, mystery shopping programs, research, and consulting services have helped ensure our clients deliver consistent, memorable, and differentiated experiences to their customers. Many of the world's preeminent global hospitality brands, as well as companies in the gaming, dining, healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, retail and travel industries choose LRA to help them measure and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit www.LRAWorldwide.com.
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