Saturday, November 19, 2005

Africa - an opportunity

I have not had favorable things to say about Red Herring in the past. But the reincarnated version is less hype and more readable material.

The Africa special issue 2 weeks ago is a great read. As always, Africa gets coverage only when things go wrong. You don't hear about Namibia, Botswana, Ghana or Gabon anymore. Why, you stop hearing about Rwanda and Burundi, once the violence stops. It is as if the world wants to hear only bad things about Africa. Ihe original nickname, Dark Continent, reflected then and does so now, the ignorance of outsiders rather than the state of the continent.

A few times people have told me that there will always be problems in Africa. That is a statement that has its roots in deep bias and even deeper ignorance. Unfortunately though, such statements are not limited to the fair-skinned!

I have been fascinated with Botswana and Namibia, ever since I watched the breathtakingly colorful landscape on Discovery Channel some 10 years ago. I hope to make a long tour of those countries someday. When I recently told this to a few friends the immediate reactions included responses like you may get killed, what can you do there and so on. These 2 countries are now probably safer than most large cities in the US and moreover, have had great stock market runs in the last decade. They will continue to thrive.

Africa and related investments should be part of any long-term strategy. It is not just resources anymore. From cell phones to call centers to open-source software companies, Africa will have a lot to offer over the next few decades. The only thing that can prevent progress there is bias and misguided aid, not to forget dirty games of the major powers. Outside ignorance is not a hindrance!

A good way to start seeing Africa in a different light is to read Jim Rogers and Paul Theroux. I covered some books from them in this post.

One small investment I made recently was in Millicom (MICC), which provides cellular service in a few African nations. The Europe-based provider also has operations in Asia and Latin America. Expect to see more pure-plays in future.


Post a Comment

<< Home