You have heard the catastrophic news about Darfur, AIDS and extreme poverty; you have seen the condescending look on people's face when the topic of immigration comes around, you have dodged the silly questions asking how Africa really is: "is it more like in Eddy Murphy' s Coming to America, Out of Africa or Blood Diamond ?" Yadi, yadi, yada....you get the picture.
Here is a novel concept about Africa:
"It provided a return on investment at 29%, higher than any other continent during the 90's."
It is not exactly a secret either since US multinational corporations have increased investment in Africa since the early 90's. The misconception of Africa's financial"worth" is a topic that will certainly be addressed in the TED conference that Hjk will attend. Still this assessment rings very true:
"Africa's profitability is one of the best kept secrets in today's world economy."
-- Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
A few facts on Return on Investment (ROI) for Africa:
"Between 1983 and 1997, the rate of return for US companies in Africa has been above 10 per cent, except in 1986 (see graph). Net income from British direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding Nigeria) increased by 60 per cent between 1989 and 1995. And in 1995 Japanese affiliates in Africa were more profitable (after taxes) than in the early 1990s, and were more profitable than in Asia, where most Japanese investments are concentrated"
"US$299 million of a total of US$623 million in privatization sales were accounted for by foreign investors [..]
The principal home countries of TNCs (Trans National Corporations) investing in Africa in the 1982-96 period were the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. In recent years, France overtook the United Kingdom as the largest single country source of African Foreign Investment. At the same time FI flows to Africa from Asia have increased significantly, mainly from TNCs in the Republic of Korea and in Malaysia, as well as from Taiwan, Province of China and China."
OK, how about Madagascar ?
According to a World Bank survey, Madagascar is among the 30 countries in the world where it is the most difficult to conduct business. Still about USD 3 billion foreign funds have invested in Madagascar. So it cannot be that bad, can it ? Other facts:
-Major field of investment for US corporations: textile. No big surprise there.
Major advantage of investing in the "Big Red": Madagascar’s advantage is a low-wage, productive work force.... These reports are so predictable sometimes....;)
So there, if you actually want to hit the jackpot, go south young (wo)man !
Of course, this is merely an attempt at looking at the bright side of the picture for once. Because if you are not a multinational corporation, the Return On Investment is probably lower than advertised.