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Five Keys to Opening the African Market

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Five Keys to Opening the African Market

Source:Ming-Tang Huang

Africa is a land of impenetrable mystery, evoking a fascination of the fabulously exotic, but it is also a land of pitfalls. With 53 countries, where does one start?

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Five Keys to Opening the African Market

By CommonWealth Editorial Department
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 394 )

CommonWealth Magazine assembled the views of our interviewees and boiled them down to the following five keys to getting a foot in the door of the African market:

1. Pick a Major Regional Player

Africa’s “Big Four” nations – Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa – account for half of continental GDP, meaning more and bigger business opportunities.

For each region, a country can be chosen to serve as your entryway. Egypt can serve as a portal to both North African and Middle Eastern markets; South Africa to southern African markets; Nigeria to West African markets; and Kenya or Uganda to East African markets.

Alternatively, one of the newly emerging nations, such as Angola or the “Desert Rose” Tunisia, could be chosen as a base of operations.

2. Nurture an In-Depth, Long-term Strategy   

Suppliers can find buyers for all kinds of goods in African markets; however, they must be patient and cultivate roots. Once a brand develops a certain level of trust, “the product enters the people’s consciousness and is unshakable,” one business owner says.

3. Take Advantage of Non-Colonial History

Africans tend to be less distrustful of nations that have no colonial history in Africa, like South Korea and Taiwan, than of the West. South Korea has not only been vigorously promoting sales of Hyundais and Kias in Africa but has also been gaining influence. South Korean churches have sent large aid delegations to help schools and poor families. China’s excessively energetic campaign of engagement, on the other hand, has raised suspicions across Africa about underlying motives and neocolonialism.

4. Establish Cordial Relations with Governments, but No Bribery

Taiwan’s Mustek, the biggest computer company in South Africa, often bids on government projects, but “if someone solicits a bribe, we drop the bid,” Mustek CEO David Kan says. “If we agree to one, then there will be a next one, and we don’t want to set a precedent.”

“You must knock on the right doors without getting into corrupt practices,” says Garth le Pere, executive director of South Africa’s Institute for Global Dialogue think tank. Otherwise, “not only are you not assisting African countries, you become part of the problem.”

5. Beware of Scams

Many African nations are home to scam artists specializing in phony letters of credit. It is best to find a reliable local agent and start first with selling products rather than diving headlong into a major investment.


Chinese Version: 非洲崛起 台灣機會在哪裡?

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