This October, accomplished journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha started a journey with Standard Bank and 702 to reveal insights into Africa’s markets: The investment opportunities, trading conditions and the people. The Africa Connected initiative focuses on all the things that connect us in our quest to move the continent forward.
Nikiwe’s first stop was Ghana, focusing on the culturally vibrant and economically active capital of Accra. With only three days to explore the city, her itinerary had to include hotspots beloved by both tourists and locals alike, including Sky Bar, renowned as a great venue for after-work drinks; the scenic Labadi Beach; Jamestown, home to ancient structures built before and during the colonial era; and the famed Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, final resting place of Ghana’s revered founder.
But Nikiwe’s trip was about more than just site-seeing and sampling local delicacies, such as “red red” and kpakpo shito. Attending the Standard Bank West Africa Trans-Regional Conference, she interviewed a number of high-profile individuals directly involved with the Ghanaian economy. Among them, Editor of Graphic Business Theo Yartey; South African High Commissioner to Ghana Lulu Xingwana; and Ghana's Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah.
Though acknowledging that the West African country faces a number of challenges (the most pressing and well-known being the energy crisis), all interviewees independently agreed that there are myriad business opportunities available for entrepreneurs or corporations looking to invest in the manufacturing, mining, agro-processing, construction, tourism, infrastructure and even the property development sector.
These views echo the position held by Dr. Manessah Alagbaoso, Head of Commercial Banking at Standard Bank Rest of Africa. He maintains that West African countries offer multiple avenues for investment, but, to make progress real, African businesses need a partner who understands emerging markets and has continental banking experience.
Standard Bank effortlessly fits this description: As Africa's largest bank by assets, we’re geared to connect key stakeholders to one another, understand and mitigate risks, and advise our customers on how to best unlock and capitalise opportunities throughout a number of products, industries and geographies on the continent.
Turning to the energy crisis, most interviewed believed that the worst appeared to be over. Earlier this year, additional power came online and the situation should ease further in 2017 after another power plant is completed. Ms Xingwana, however, still believes there are opportunities for Africans to invest in Ghana’s renewable energy industry (among many others), as “dumsor” (power outages) continues to threaten productivity while pushing up production costs.
“There’s an opportunity now for investors from South Africa and other parts of the world to come [to Ghana] and invest,” she shares.
For more information about #AfricaConnected, and to view the videos, uploaded tweets and blog of Nikiwe’s adventures - which will include an upcoming trip to Kenya this November - go to http://africaconnected.702.co.za/