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An eye on Africa

By Tim Hanley - May 01, 2012

Dttl_Deloitte_Manufacturing_Hanley_010512_v3Two weeks ago, I traveled to Johannesburg for my first ever trip to South Africa. It really expanded my perspectives to the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in both South Africa and the broader continent of Africa. It is easy to see why many companies have an eye on Africa.

While I was only in the country for four days, they were certainly full ones. I was able to lead several client workshops, participate in a forward-looking discussion on the future of the manufacturing industry in Africa, and join a media interview.

Perhaps the high-point of my visit was making three client presentations to one of the largest companies in Africa. The senior executives were very interested to hear about the extensive research that Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry team is leading on the trends and developments within the global chemical sector. Insights from the most recent report, End market alchemy, which focuses on the customers served by the sector, helped to generate interactive discussions on the strategic implications for the clients’ business.

Another topic of discussion which was of particular interest to the client centers on the recent shale gas phenomenon. I am finding this is viewed by many in the industry to be a real game changer, not just for the energy industry, but also for many companies that consume energy. Shale gas and its implications on energy pricing globally seems to be peaking the interest to manufacturers everywhere.

An interesting aspect of my visit was a strategy session with several Deloitte South Africa leaders on the emerging economies in the many regions and the 54 countries that make up the large continent of Africa. I am not sure about you, but I am increasingly finding that Africa, and its evolving business opportunities, is becoming an important topic of discussion with companies seeking top-line growth in emerging markets. Manufacturers from Europe, China, India, Brazil, and the United States are paying close attention to the developments in Africa. The automotive sector is perhaps the most established sector, but there is also increasing investments in the metals and mining, aerospace and defense, chemicals, and other industrial manufacturing sectors. While Africa attracted US $52.3 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2010, I learned that the investments are unevenly distributed with a large share of FDI going to extractive industries in a limited group of countries. Attracting more investment into diversified and higher value-added sectors remains a challenge as well as an opportunity for Africa.

Finally, I was able to find time to interview with CNBC Africa joining Andrew Mackie, Deloitte South Africa Manufacturing Leader, in a discussion about the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for both the country and the continent. It was interesting to work alongside Andrew, and hear his first-hand perspectives and outlook for Africa. (View the interview, African Prospects in Global Economy)

My travel schedule seems to be fairly extensive these days and I find myself incredibly energized by what I see happening in the global manufacturing industry. With the busy world around us, I am sure many of you will appreciate a comment I received from one of our clients, who chastised me for coming all the way to South Africa, and allowing no time whatsoever to tour their country. I am left however with a much better appreciation of South Africa and on my next trip will do my best to find time to experience the beauty of the country to explore Cape Town and the wonders of Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park.

Africa is a fascinating continent and certainly one to key your eye on.

Tim HanleyTim Hanley is the Global Leader of the Manufacturing Industry group of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL). In his global industry leadership role, he directs strategic initiatives and investments to grow Deloitte member firm market share within the manufacturing industry. During his distinguished 32-year career, Hanley has led teams serving all business aspects, including consulting with top management regarding organizational financial strategy development and execution, acquisitions, and market development.


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