There is a place where the Nile is born, and the locals can show you exactly where it is. It is quite a privilege to see it in person—a place that was searched for by generations of explorers in Africa. I am talking about that spot on the northern bank of Lake Victoria where the White Nile first enters the world. Another important birth is taking place nearby in a ritzy neighborhood of Kampala called Munyonyo.
In previous posts, I discussed the crime and security situation for firms in Latin America and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. I have begun rolling data from the Enterprise Surveys for 21 countries in Africa, and the initial results suggest that crime imposes as heavy a burden on firms in Africa as in Latin America. On average, losses due to crime and security expenses average about 2.7% of the annual sales of a firm in Africa.
For quite some time, I’ve suspected that Nigeria would become the leader in Africa for PPPs. Several projects have been announced, and serious government interest has been demonstrated by discussion on policy, legislation and deal flow. The Global Legal Group has provided excellent insight into this in their 2007 Guide to PPP/PFI Projects.
Not another reference to recession-hit corporate behemoths, but more on how to jump start even small businesses in the toughest environments. Somalia and Zimbabwe top the list in the latest Failed States Index from the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine. The problems facing those attempting to do business there are well documented.
The Economist has an interesting prediction for east Africa: "In a couple of years even fairly poor east Africans may be getting knowledge, news and entertainment on robust versions of existing Apple iPhone and Palm Pre models." This prediction comes just after Kenya's president connected the first of three planned fiber-optic submarine cables.
Great advances in mobile telephony and internet access seem to promise a revolution in development. But Chris Kreutz on the crisscrossed blog reminds us just how big the constraints are. Among other things, Chris reports on a presentation at the Web4dev conference, and even in South Africa the obstacles are large:
An earlier post on this blog talked about the benefits to informal or unregistered firms from registering. Using data on informal firms in Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Mauritius (Enterprise Surveys), I argued that a majority of the informal firms believe that registration brings real benefits, especially those associated with better access to finance and markets.