Africa’s potential has long been a subject of speculation, with its billion, mainly young citizens and rich natural resources. This issue discusses why the continent has yet to fulfill its promise, and argues that only through manufacturing can economies build a sustainable base for long-term affluence. Fabric producer Vlisco can hardly claim to be new to Africa – the company is almost 170 years old – but through its clever brand repositioning, it is making and selling more of its products than ever before in the region, targeting the middle classes.
India’s recent economic record pales beside that of China, one of the factors behind the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata party. The new government’s first budget comes under scrutiny in this issue, receiving a cautionary thumbs-up for its pledges to boost the industrial sector through economic zones and an easing of restrictions on foreign investment.
Consumers across Latin America are becoming increasingly frustrated at the poor broadband coverage that is restricting their use of smartphones and holding back business. An insightful feature charts efforts to attract sufficient investment to create a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure, with the likes of Colombia, Peru and Chile leading the way. Telecommunications deregulation in Mexico has largely replaced a state monopoly with a private version, and the article outlines government attempts to shake up the market, through network sharing and new licenses.
Indonesia can no longer be described as a sleeping giant, with the world’s fourth largest population and a GDP of US$900 billion. However, as the article commentary observes, deal makers are frustrated by a cumbersome regulatory climate and complex labor and insolvency laws, and need help navigating their way to successful M&As.
Finally, we return to the theme of innovation in an Off the Cuff interview with consultant, author and Asia expert Ben Simpfendorfer. His recipe for success in the region is a heady cocktail mixing one part of e-commerce with two parts of local presence, shaken not stirred!