By Leon Louw, founder and editor of WhyAfrica
13 July 2021 – About one year ago, during the Covid-19 level 5-lockdown in South Africa, the first WhyAfrica newsletter saw the light.
It started off with a few opinion pieces about the politics in Southern Africa and the many business opportunities in other regions of the continent, especially in the mining industry, my speciality.
Writing about politics in Africa, mining, energy, and business, was part of my life for the last 11 years, and I have done it because I am passionate about the continent.
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and worked in several countries across Africa for a long time before I could no longer contain the urge to put pen to paper.
Before my life as a mining journalist and business writer in Africa, I travelled and worked extensively throughout the continent, including stints in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
Then, I had a lot of time to ponder the essence of Africa, and what it meant to be born in Africa. I immersed myself in studying Africa and gained degrees in African Studies, African History and African Politics.
I met many African people from different countries, different cultures and different walks of life, all with opposing political views, philosophies, and beliefs about how business should be done.
We discussed, until late at night, Africa’s people, her troubles, her beauty, her sadness, her treasures, and the opportunities just waiting to be discovered.
After that, during the last ten years of my life as journalist and writer, I have interviewed hundreds of businesspeople and foreign investors operating and investing in Africa.
I felt from the start that there was a disconnect between what Africa and her people really offered, and the perceptions of foreign investors. Their views were largely formed by what they heard from multinational media houses, consultants, and NGOs.
Africa offered so many opportunities, but companies were hesitant to test the waters, as it seemed incredibly risky to invest in Africa. And sometimes it is. There are innumerable case-studies where investors burnt their fingers.
This happened mostly because they were ill-informed or did not understand their markets and operating environments. However, a much larger number of companies were richly rewarded for investing in Africa. They took calculated risks and carried out proper market research, for which they ultimately reaped the rewards.
To me, there seemed to be a lack of good, credible information about the real Africa and about the incredible business opportunities out there.
So, in lockdown, believing that Africa will be stronger after the pandemic, I started writing about the success stories and how these companies went about their business.
I wrote about the opportunities and how politics influence decision making, and of course, about the challenges. WhyAfrica was born.
The feedback was good, and while people around the world were all working from home, WhyAfrica’s following continued growing, which was totally unexpected. Investors and businesspeople from around the world were interested while African businesses wanted to tell their story to attract investment.
It was encouraging to see so many different people and companies, especially from Europe and the Scandinavian countries, suddenly looking at Africa as the next frontier. And that interest has not dissipated. In fact, it has grown, and with it a thirst for more knowledge and information about Africa.
I realised that traditional journalism and reporting is just not good enough any longer. Today’s readers, and especially potential investors, want more. They want insight and knowledge. They want to be part of a community and networks that share one thing: an interest in Africa.
The WhyAfrica community believes in Africa, and it believes in the ability of business and the private sector, together with all role players, including governments, NGOs, and development organisations, to make a difference where it is needed most.
The right investments and business development will have a great positive impact on Africa’s future trajectory. Besides, what better endeavour could there be than to create something of value in this vast, fascinating, diverse, and challenging business environment? Moreover, if it means that you become a part of the African growth story, so much the better.
After a few months of posting articles every day, I started giving advice here and there, consulting now and again, and continued studying trends in Africa. Suddenly suppliers and companies looking to expand into Africa, started asking about marketing, advertising and if they could publish thought leadership pieces on the WhyAfrica website and in its bi-weekly newsletter.
One year later, WhyAfrica is not only on its feet, but it is busy with more than a handful of new, exciting projects, including a digital magazine, videos and doing actual road trips into African countries.
A third wave of Covid-19 has delayed our initial plans, but we hope to be on the road before April 2022, giving you the best on the ground, grassroots information that anybody could ask for.
So, if your business is Africa, or even if you are just interested to read and learn about doing business in Africa, contact me on email@example.com. Subscribe to our newsletter on www.whyafrica.co.za or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, and become part of the WhyAfrica community.
Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.
WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message.