Africa is the last economic frontier according to Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and former Nigerian President Olusengun Obasanjo. The two men urged blacks to start building businesses and finding other investments on the continent.
“We have a challenge and along with the challenge is the opportunity,” Obasanjo said. “If we identify the opportunity then we must seize the opportunity.” That opportunity includes emerging market stocks whose returns have outpaced those in other global economies despite the economic crisis.
“Those who’ve invested in African stock markets are doing a little better,” said Rosa Whitaker, CEO of The Whitaker Group, a consulting firm focused on African development. “In capital markets the economic crisis hasn’t affected Africa because the economies is not directly interlinked,” she added.
Whitaker was of many on a panel interested in boosting African American investments in Africa. The forum, “International Africa, The Last Economic Frontier: The Role of the Diaspora and Foreign Investors,” explored the numerous financial opportunities available in Africa. It was apart of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 12th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit.
Telecommunications and technology sectors are growth industries for the continent, according to Whitaker. And with President-elect Barack Obama promising to focus on sustainable and renewable energy, Africa is sure to be a power player as it is home to some of the largest energy reserves in the world. These oil and gas reserves are concentrated in Northern Africa and Nigeria.
Panelists said in order to boost black dollars flowing into the country, trade and investment incentives need to be advocated for. “We will have to look at opening up the tax codes because that will open up investments,” Whitaker said.
Even with a poor housing market and troubled economy Obasanjo said it should not cloud insight on investments. “Our outlook should be global and international and our outreach too should be global and international,” he said.