Martyn Davies Event Highlight – What is Africa’s Future Beyond Growth?

The 29 September – 1 October saw several hotel companies from across the globe meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss how to meet demand for hotel investment and development. A delegation of over 500 hotel industry experts gathered to gain investment insights into the regional markets, and engaged in discussions that aided strategic planning for doing business in Africa.

Dr. Martyn Davies delivered the keynote address with an engaging presentation highlighting strategies for taking a long-term view of the African opportunity. As an introduction he displayed the positive and negative “African Surprises” that are currently impacting on the market, as follows:

The Upside….
• Who would have thought even five years ago that Kenya would be the region’s main infrastructure and technology play?
• Ethiopia would be an emerging manufacturing hub &
• Mozambique will be providing one of the greatest commercial opportunities in its oil & gas sector
• Rwanda – a small landlocked country in central Africa – is now the easiest place on the continent to do business

The downside…
• The dire impact of Ebola in West Africa’s small economies
• Zimbabwe’s pending recession once again (despite dollarization)
• Africa’s newest state - South Sudan – is self-destructing
• The rapid deceleration of the South African economy  

Dr. Davies uses this information to highlight how the political economy in Africa is increasingly complex and the continents growth needs to be viewed through multiple lenses – not just in terms of simple GDP growth measures. He showed rich displays of different markets and companies that are succeeding in Africa and outlined why. It seems that ‘First-Mover’ corporates hold the advantage of consolidating fragmented markets in the region, but are also doing so with greater risk.

In his Summary:

1) The opportunity to capture & consolidate the marketplace is indeed immense
2) Where the state cannot provide, the private sector must
3) The Africa Rising narrative is consolidating around a few key countries
4) African economies need to differentiate themselves through creating comparative & ultimately competitive advantage
5) Alternative developmental approaches are nothing more than ideological fads (i.e. beneficiation of resources)
6) So-called “Black Swan” events will always occur in the nascent and unpredictable markets of Africa

His full presentation along with others is available for download here.