Christian Long

Euvin Naidoo: Investing in Africa

In TED Talks on April 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Reflection by MILES W.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Euvin Naidoo:  Investing in Africa

Africa.

In following with what the speaker did, I want you to take a moment and think to yourself. What does that word mean? What comes to mind when you here the word Africa? Do you think disease, slavery, and famine? Or do you think one of the richest continents in the world?

Probably the first set of ideas is what comes to mind. Although they may be true, within a few years the second idea of a great African economy may be true also.

In this talk, investment banker Euvin Naidoo introduces a new perspective on Africa. He believes that the continent is full of many resource-rich nations and has great investment opportunities.

But what could have sparked such a radical idea?

In 2002, Mr. Naidoo was intrigued by a satellite image of the earth because where every continent had light, Africa did not. He saw this as the opportunity to shed light on Africa. He saw this as an opportunity to enlighten the world to the possibilities of this perceived to be dark world. A quote that truly illustrates this idea, from George Kimble, is that “the only thing dark about Africa is our ignorance of it”. But Mr. Naidoo presents many statistics that show that if Africa is handled properly, it will become the most profitable place in the world.

While I was very skeptical to all of this when I was being presented with all of these ideas of investing in Africa resulting in great economic benefits for the investor and the nations themselves, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to the African economy’s stabilization. With countries like Nigeria and Zambia all having decreasing rates in inflation, the continent producing 18 percent of the United States’ oil supply, and many of the nations rising up from a Third World Country status to that of smaller European nations, Africa is definitely on an economic upside and presents great chances to make money.

But if all of what he has presented is true, and Africa is a great place to invest, why hasn’t it already happened. Why aren’t there millions of people emigrating from their homelands to places like Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa in search of the ‘African Dream’?

Euvin Naidoo is definitely not the first person to see Africa as a great place to invest as there have been other studies by renowned investment banking firms such as Goldman Sachs, so these statistics must have been presented elsewhere. Since they have been around for a long time why am I not hearing of big business headquartering in Africa?

Because with all stories there are two sides and investing in Africa is no exception everything to this rule. I wondered why Africa has not risen above with all of the great opportunity it has, and in following a link provided in a comment box (http://www.cnbc.com/id/30959351/) that took me to a CNBC special titled “Dollars and Danger: Africa the Final Investing Frontier”, I found my answer:

Fear.

People are afraid to take that risk and jump into the vast African economic landscape. They still see the primitive people of the past and do not see their investments panning out. They get the culture shock of African society from the starvation in the countryside and the great violence in the city and are reluctant to spend their money in Africa. From oil wars in Nigeria, to an economy rooted in apartheid in South Africa, The continent still faces many problems that hinder investing.

This may seem to be a distraction from the talk itself, but these investment opportunities cannot be realized without the many social issues plaguing the continent being resolved. Instead of focusing on shedding light on the economic promise of Africa, Mr. Naidoo should have focused on the social issues. While we may have shed light on the economic gain which Africa provides, our ignorance of the social aspects of the great continent, like Mr. Kimble said, are leaving it very, very, dark. And without the light being shone on all of African life, their will be no light shone at all.

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