Friday, 19 June 2015

African Lions Begin to Prow: Undiscovered Countries 
(Part-III)

 

Kenya is another extremely promising example, having a new lease of economic and cultural life in recent times. With a nominal GDP of $39.6 billion; at $478 per capita in 2012. GDP growth rate is estimated at 4.2 percent in the same period, primarily driven by financial intermediation, tourism, construction and agriculture sectors.


One attention-grabbing surprise here is that Kenya’s capital Nairobi has the fastest-growing luxury real-estate prices on the planet; and that Kenya’s coast is second only to the nation’s capital city, beating in terms of relative growth per inhabitant of megacities like Miami, London, Chinese boom-cities; even Singapore and Sydney. According to a report from Citi Private Wealth, prices for premium land sites and properties in Kenya’s capital Nairobi bound almost 25 percent in 2011 alone. Kenya’s seemingly illogical rapid economic development is attracting domestic and international private equity, with particular growth in transfer of funds flowing from Kenya’s increasingly affluent diaspora.

Kenya also holds Africa's biggest Automotive and International Trade Exhibition. Attracting automotive products and auxiliary parts from over 11 countries. For example, the event showcases a wide range of products from China, often with over 30 Chinese firms participating. Trade visitors from all over East & Central African countries come in collaboration with several regional trade bodies in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Mozambique & Congo. Though Kenya by itself is one of the biggest markets in Africa, major emphasis is being laid upon attracting traders and importers from neighbouring countries. This kind of activity, should ensure business specially for the foreign participants who form almost 80 percent of the exhibition.

Kenya is primarily focused on automotive retail and distribution; focusing on Toyota (East Africa), Cooper Motor Corporation, General Motors, Simba Colt and DT Dobie. There are also three vehicle assembly plants in the country, which concentrate on the assembly of pick-ups and heavy commercial vehicles.

Figures recently released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that in mid 2013 the total sales of motorcycles stood at 45,935 units while in 2008 the number stood at 2,084, an increase of 2,000 percent.

With the motorcycle explosion in Nairobi, several business opportunities have emerged. Banks and micro-finance institutions are also targeting transporters especially those using motorcycles to offer them loans. Most of the motorcycle operators within Nairobi and other major urban areas took loans to buy their first motorcycles.

Ghana is another revelation. As the nation leads as Africa’s fastest growing economy. Ghana’s recent economic growth put her ahead of major Asian emerging economies such as Qatar. Ghana is projected to grow in double digits over coming years; and through an economic symbiosis, nearly 40 percent of the neighbouring countries are likely to see higher growth rates as well (check any world map).

Ghana is the pride of Africa, with clear democratic achievements, peaceful elections, peaceful environment, hospitable people, renowned personalities, economic progress and much more. Now Ghana has a comparatively strong commercial and consumer sector, predominantly serving the Ghanaian economy and the West African sub-region. The goal is to develop strong manufacturing bases and increase exports.

Ghana, According to EconomyWatch.com, leads with GDP growth pinned at a whopping 20 percent. Ghana has the largest Per Capita Income in West Africa. Latest figures released by Ghana’s Statistical Service indicate the country’s economy stands at GH¢44 billion ($83.18 billion) in 2012; at $3,300 GDP per capita. Ghana joined the league of oil producing countries in December, 2010 with 85,000 barrels of crude oil in a day (compare that with Nigeria’s 2.2 million per day).

Ghana remains somewhat reliant on international fiscal and technical support as well as the activities of broad Ghanaian diaspora. Cocoa, diamond, bauxite, manganese, gold, timber and other exports are major sources of foreign exchange. One being an oilfield which is reported to contain up to 3 billion barrels of light oil, discovered in 2007. Oil exploration is ongoing and, the amount of oil continues to increase.

The good news is that foreign investment in Africa has a fast growing momentum. China, in particular, has great interest in the region. As Stephan Richter president of The Globalist Research Center, wrote in the BusinessMirror:

‘...China is everywhere in Africa these days, both exploiting the continent’s vast natural resources and pursuing infrastructure projects the West has long promised but never quite delivered...With the ability to deliver projects on time and on budget, China’s leaders are offering their African counterparts a clean-cut deal: If you work with us, we will build it—period. Given that Africa’s economic growth has long been stunted by a lack of dependable transportation infrastructure, this is more than a tempting offer... China’s vision is very distinct from the West’s.
In post-colonial Africa, the West focused on democracy-building over market-building. The Chinese approach switches those priorities. And whatever the preferences of Westerners, it is Africans who must ultimately make the choice of whether to embrace democracy or markets first.
In the abstract, it is always preferable to focus on democratic structures. However, in countries where poverty remains rampant, an uncomfortable counterargument can be made, based on the West’s poor track record of the last 50 years. In much of Africa, political growth remains as stunted as the economy.’
Focusing on market-building first can empower a budding middle class—which provides a counterbalance to the vestiges of clan-based feudalism. In this approach, economic development promotes political development....
As Communist China keeps building bridges, railroads and conference centres across Africa, it is, ironically, the Chinese people—not the Americans—who can make a compelling case that their focus in Africa hasn’t been on spreading ideology but on the practical business of securing natural resources and creating future customers.’

Trade between Africa and China stood at $160 billion dollars in year 2012 and with the expected rise in commodity prices and discovery of even more resources, Africa, with good economic management the economy is expected to continue to perform very well into the future. China and Africa have a long history of commerce, often via third parties, as far back as 202 BC. Archaeological excavations at Somalia and Tanzania have recovered many coins from China. As of August 2007, it is approximated that there are more than 750,000 Chinese nationals working in different African countries and possibly as many as 200,000 Africans working in China as of 2012.
China is currently Africa's main trading partner. Hence the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was established as an official medium to reinforce the partnership. Though a few Western countries have raised concerns over the political, economic and military roles China is playing in the African continent.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlights China's development aid to Africa, while also stating that China and Africa are making ‘joint efforts to maintain the lawful rights of developing countries and push forward the creation of a new, fair and just political and economic order in the world.’

An estimated ~40 percent of the world’s Gold deposits lay in African rock. Africa holds 80 percent one of the most significant and precious metals: Platinum, and notwithstanding some spectacular engineering breakthrough, it remains a fundamental constituent of Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Heaven knows the total potential value.

Urbanisation has always given rise to the middle classes, bringing with it new consumer aspirations and demands. According to Mckinsey Global Group, ‘In 1980, just 28 percent of African’s lived in cities. Today, 40 percent of the continent’s 1 billion people do – a portion close to China’s and larger than India’s and one that expands further…. We estimate that by 2030, the containments’ 18 top cities could have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion.’ Shifting from rural to urban increases productivity by 30-50 percent, and on the whole leaves for more efficient livelihood, better standards of living and improved quality of life.

Urbanisation means transport systems (rail, air, roads, waterways), drinking water, drainage and sewage systems, mains electricity and gas, telecommunications and TV transmission, banking, schools, hospitals, municipal public services, sports grounds and recreation parks. And that means both private and public service systems and management. And that means JOBs! Millions of technical, trade, professions, administrative, maintenance, civil and management roles.

Africa, it seems, is just turning its front door sign to open and poised to become a new economic driving force in the 21st century. As long as it persists to embrace the sound economic policies that engender progress, these African Lions on the Prow may just be about to pounce!
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