Global business ventures are always spreading their wings and travelling the world looking for opportunities to invest and grow. Africa is one such destination, a vast continent (not a country, a common misnomer), made up of many countries (54), nations, landscapes, languages, politics, religions, economies, cultures and so forth. And why is it worth investing in this continent? According to the Financial Times, “Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment …” particularly pertaining to oil and gas.
As with any international investment it is always advisable to ‘start at the very beginning’. Blindly launching into a global enterprise without the proper instruments will more than likely lead your campaign into taking a nose-dive, which is why it is essential to become versed in the customs of your chosen country. You wouldn’t after all try to play the piano without a piano; the same applies to conducting business abroad. Learn about its culture and business etiquette. Here is an introduction to a few essential cultural notes about some key African players to help you on your way to becoming a virtuoso!
Like a colourful rainbow, this multicultural country (often named ‘the rainbow nation’) comprises an array of ethnic groups, which makes generalising business and cultural etiquette a little challenging, but the following will give you some idea of what to look out for as part of your global business venture.
“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” Play your notes right and your business negotiations in this oil-rich country will go a long way. To make a grand entrance in Nigeria, keynotes in your repertoire for a successful business performance should include adaptability, flexibility and a suite of cultural accompaniments.
With its relatively diversified economy, large domestic market and advantageous geostrategic position, Egypt plays a strong role among the first violins of the African ensemble, attracting a huge amount of foreign investment. However, pitching the right note in a country where political stability is still tenuous demands understanding its cultural essence.
There are so many more cultural notes to Africa’s symphony; however, these brief chords are just the overture. If you want to make sure your business debut is a success, become accomplished in your understanding of business and cultural diversity in Africa and you will then be well on your way to striking the right chord in this vast orchestra of African business.
By Madeline Prusmann, Project Manager, January 2017
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