Don't Diss Africa

Fellow Enterprise Irregular Thomas Otter has done a commendable job taking to task my Africa sourcing analysis from late November. He kicks off his rebuttal by noting "that Africa will not take over China and India anytime soon in all areas of sourcing is obvious, but it is not the basket case that Jason makes it out to be." Perhaps I did make a few mistakes in my initial post (e.g., generalizing Africa as a whole), but I stand by the fact that I think Africa should be further down on the list for companies exploring global sourcing options -- at least as a general rule. Still, I would agree with Thomas that there are some areas and industries -- such as automotive in South Africa -- that are worthy of consideration in a targeted fashion. But these are the exception rather than the norm.

Without question, Africa is a continent which is absolutely rich with export opportunity. And my guess is that in a decade or two, we'll look to a number of countries in Africa as much as we currently look to other developing areas of the world as a source of low cost, reliable supply. But a lot has to happen before that point and I would wager that I'll sooner get over to the region for vacation before I do for sourcing or other business reasons (with South Africa as a possible exception). Still, Thomas, I hope that you and others prove me wrong in the meantime.

Jason Busch

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