My conversation with Emerging Markets Guru (Middle East and Africa) Krishna Gopal who gives his inputs on Africa as a market for Indian entrepreneurs and businesses.
Africa is amongst the last big bastions of opportunity- 1.2 billion people, 1 Trillion economy- big market with enormous headroom for growth, as the US and European stories peter out something that has excited Indians.
Africa has 54 countries, each different from the other in language, currency, political environments etc- he suggests we go with the mentality of small. He also illustrates that 21 countries are 918MM of the 1.2 billion- eg Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa so everyone of them is not the same. So think small and think different markets- For instance in IT, they dont have legacy, so direct jump to cloud, big-data etc...similarly cables dont exist in Telecom etc, agriculture is big as Indians are buying up land.
His one sentence advice, for African entry: Start small, focus, partner, invest and grow.
His take on China's Africa takeover- he sees this as nothing new with the illustration of Jordan's example- 60% of jordan's economy is Aid- and US uses it to subsidise their own companies who are given the contracts on which the Aid is spent.
His conversation is peppered with insights- such as his anecdote of Chinese ships that offload containers which have person who lives inside the container and as the stock gets over, the container leaves along with the guy.
China vs India in Africa? He believe the Chinese have orchestrated themselves very well, but Indians, despite the $5B in aid India gives, are not organized.....
Not many people merit a byline in a leading business daily when they quit, but Krishna does...
Krishna can be counted amongst the new breed of techno-business professionals who are at ease both on the business and on the technology side...He has a successful track record of incubating new businesses in the emerging markets of Middle East, Africa and India.
At Sify he spearheaded the evangelizing of e-commerce in India during its inception.At Mahindra British Telecom he initially incubated their e-governance initiatives in India during the 1999-2001 period when e-governance was at its inception in India.
Subsequently he incubated their telecom foray into the Middle East and Africa region and grew it to significant revenue levels besides establishing the TechM brand in the local ecosystem as a vendor of choice.
His relationships in the IT / telco ecosystem are deep with all key technology partners, product companies and local companies and adds to jumpstarting the business development process.He has consisently displayed a proven ability to be a brand ambassador and represent his organization in the media, industry events and trade shows.
You can find him on Twitter and on Linkedin