As one of the few remaining untapped markets in the world, Africa has come on to the radar of many international companies looking for additional revenues and a competitive advantage. However, the process of doing business in Africa is different to anywhere else in the world, and can prove difficult for the uninitiated.

Africa not for sissiesUnderstandably, organisations are turning to large repositories of data to uncover trends, statistics, and other actionable information to help decide on their next move, and are finding that the data available about African companies is usually patchy, at best.

“While many African countries are growing exponentially, the growth is coming off miniscule bases, making an understanding of where a particular company in a particular country is economically very difficult for anyone who has not had experience of how African business works,” explains Louise Robinson, Sales Director of CG Consulting, a lead generation company specialising in emerging markets. “The UN and the World Bank are continually pumping money into the continent to improve and boost infrastructure – physical and IT – but that infrastructure remains unreliable in many cases.”

She adds that doing business in Africa is very different to anywhere else in the world. “It’s a long and expensive exercise. You have to have a great sense of humour and lots of patience, especially since everything works on Africa time. Bandwidth, language and public holidays are a problem for companies who expect operations similar to the kind they have become used to elsewhere in the world. These factors all contribute to a confusing array of opportunities and obstacles, which have resulted in a general reluctance on the part of any but the largest companies in doing business in Africa,” she says.

She adds that in Africa and the Middle East, where emerging economies are growing rapidly, obtaining corporate data remains difficult due to the fact that businesses in these countries operate differently to those in established economies. International organisations looking to do business in Africa are finding a confusion of information, and many have been burned by buying databases with incorrect or incomplete information.

However, Africa is full of untapped opportunities. With a solution provider who has a foothold on the continent and who has an excellent understanding of all of the factors relevant to doing business in this complex environment, the prospects are endless.

“As with business anywhere, networking in Africa is vital. Getting to the right people will make or break any business opportunity, because making a sale comes down to how good a lead is. The fastest, simplest, and most cost-effective way to achieve a comprehensive understanding of a target market, and the details of the individuals responsible for making purchasing decisions within that audience, is purchasing a clean, well-managed and well-maintained database from a third-party database provider.”


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