A good friend of mine just returned from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. He said the casino in Kampala was hopping. But the patrons were not Ugandans, they were Chinese. In fact, many of the signs are in Chinese.
Africa is enjoying a selective boom of sorts as the Chinese are making their presence felt by financing mega natural-resource-related projects. However, the selectivity is not so much boom related as it is country specific. Many people, investors included, tend to view sub-Saharan Africa as one giant country. It’s far from that. From the jungles of the Congo to the coastal cities of South Africa, the continent’s population is quite diverse, and most of the countries share little in common other than ancestry. In the Congo, French is the language of commerce. In South Africa, one should have a grasp of Afrikaans and English. In the Ivory Coast, again, French is dominant. Most countries also have several distinct native languages. In Kenya, for example, Swahili is the local language, but the 800,000-strong Massai speak their own language, which is more closely related to that spoken by tribes in Tanzania. The ruling party for many years, the Kikuyu, who number some 6 million (about 20 percent of the population) speak a variation of the Bantu language. And, so it goes on this continent of more than 54 distinct countries and over 1 billion people. It also presents a difficult proposition for investors because few can navigate through ...