From the opening shots to the closing credits Africa Investment Horizons, is a documentary determined to capture a rare panoramic perspective of the emerging business opportunities unfolding throughout the continent. The film moves quickly to dispel generations old stereotypes to illuminate the sparkling realities of Africa’s economic potential.
The film, by award-winning producer and director Carol Pineau, lends a much-needed boost to Africa’s image by intersecting several personal narratives of American and African entrepreneurs who have taken the risk of going into business in Africa. Not a small feat given the long held preconceived notions of Africa as a disease-prone, war-torn continent. In fact, at the heart of the documentary a montage of clips unspool
to visually articulate an interesting viewpoint: while markets all over the globe appear to be trembling, the pulse of the emerging market in Africa just keeps getting stronger. The film portrays businessmen and women as well as a government-level minister working to transform the continent into an economic powerhouse.
“No one was going to Africa to sell their subprime loans,” says Pineau, a former reporter who began working on the film in 2004. “I was trying to show a different Africa,” says the Cleveland native, “[because] in the media we’re just not showing the whole story. There is nobody saying [for example] that if half the population in Africa lives on $2 or less a day that means that the other half doesn’t.” By any safe estimate that other half translates into an untapped market of several hundred million potential consumers.
According to the film, several financial instruments have arrived in the marketplace including Africa-dedicated mutual and hedge funds. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has also indicated through a published report that it expects African economies to grow by 6.2% this year up from 5.8% in 2007. “There is such a need for goods and services in Africa,” Pineau stresses, “you have [investment] opportunities in roads, electricity … in all [areas] of the infrastructure.”
Pineau is also the director and producer of Africa: Open for Business. The 2005 film, which was made with funding from the World Bank, offers 10 portraits of African entrepreneurs as they tell in their own words how they overcame challenges to succeed in Africa’s business climate.
In one scene Africa Investment Horizons, Linah K. Mohohlo, the governor of the Bank of Botswana, stands in a vault surrounded by neatly stacked mountains of currency. The scene is notable because the country’s record consistency of economic growth fueled in part by diamond mining has enabled the country of about 1.8 million to offer free education to its citizens from elementary school to the doctorate level. According to The Heritage Foundation, Botswana ranks above world average in seven out of 10 rated economic freedoms. The foundation also rates Botswana’s financial sector as a leader in the region with an independent judiciary and strong protection of intellectual property.
“Most Americans think of