How To Land Your First Million Dollar Contract in Africa

If you have businesses in around the world and you haven’t thought of moving into Africa, then you need to reconsider you strategies.

In an article in Foreignaffairs by Shantayanan Devaran and Wolfgang Fengler;

No country or region, meanwhile, has ever reached what the World Bank considers high-income status with low levels of urbanization. African populations have traditionally been mostly rural, but the cities of sub-Saharan Africa are growing at astonishing rates.In 2033, most of Africans will live in cities leading to a great demand for goods and services. The regions GDP has been growing rapidly, averaging five percent a year since 2002. Private capital has now exceeded foreign aid signaling the advent of an economic turnaround. There are more opportunities in Africa now than ever, with an ever increasing population, infrastructural demand would continue leading to the signing of multi-billion dollars contracts in all facet of the economy.

What then are you waiting for, do you need to hear the testimonies of successful businesses enjoying terrific growth rate here before jumping in? Here are quick tip that would guide you in securing your first major contracts here;

 

Ensure you get all your paper work done

Before you can do any meaningful business in Africa, you have to go through hours filing several applications of several government agencies. This is necessary so that you are in good hands of the law. You might need to be extra careful here because of several con men posing as government officials and agencies. It is advised that you contact a local chambers of commerce who are there to guide investors and businessmen.

Get a reliable business partner

Many African countries have it in their law that a foreign company must partner with a local company in order to protect local businesses. Not only is this required by law it is also wise that foreign business owners partner with individuals or companies who understands the local business environment and can guide them through in making critical decisions. Before choosing any business partner ensure you have done all your research. One way to find business partner is through LinkedIn, there are several trustworthy business owner seeking foreign partnership. Also referral from related companies that have done business here would prove invaluable or simply walk into any of the respective countries embassy and ask for legitimate business partners.

Get a small office in the big city

After filing all required documents and forms, you need to settle down to business. You would want to get your office in the state capital where you are assured of relative security or around financial centers like Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg. A decent office somewhere like Lagos would cost you about $10,000-15,000 per annum or more depending on the location. Getting a good office has become quite easy these days with many real estate marketplaces springing up.

Attend business forums and events

Just like any continent, you would need a lot of networking to get any big contracts here. In Africa the “man no man syndrome” is very strong and favoritism is always visible. Investors and business owners should not rely on their technical expertise alone; you would need someone to bring you into the business table. There are several business events billed all year round, you would need to trickle down to events that are related to your industries and create a reliable calendar for it. When you attend these events be visible and offer genuine assistance to whomever you meet, the only problem you might have is remembering the names, and some names are tongue twisting.

Form close connection with politician

Most investors see African politicians as corrupt, but not all African politicians are. Knowing a good number of them will greatly improve your chances of landing that million dollar contract. Most of the juiciest contracts come from the government and most African business owners know they can’t do without them, so they are constantly swooning around them, who they often dump after the expiration of their tenure or loss of an election. A good way to connect with politicians would be to attend trade fairs, state economic summit or get an invitation through a local business partner to attend several of their occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc. Or simply search for clubs or associations they belong to and join, it will cost you some money thou.

Organize free workshop inviting relevant stakeholders

Most business people and government official like to attend workshops and events that would help them grow their businesses. Workshops are very effective way of showcasing your company but can be expensive. When you organize you workshop ensure you invite relevant stakeholders. Pick probems you are familiar with;lecture, inform and show them how certain inefficient processes, difficult challenges could be improved, transformed or changed completely. You could just be a facilitator allowing guest speakers to do the show. You want to select a venue in a very good location that is easily accessible by road. Proper planning should go into making your workshop a success

Don’t wait for that big contract, take the small ones

Many big businesses like to wait for that big contracts passing off many potentially big contracts due to their small size. This is not only illogical, it is unwise. Most clients would often time look at your previous work done to appraise you against others businessmen having tons of local experience. Having nothing to show other than your experience can be a huge setback. Your ability to see a job through no matter the size will lead to bigger opportunities in the future.

 Don’t wait for the tender, propose a ready-made solution

Investors and businessmen often like to skim through tender journals, looking for the most suitable work. Most times they end up in frustration following several failed selection. As a businessman looking to hit it big in Africa, you need look beyond the tender journal and look carefully at some of the most pressing challenges facing both private and public institutions in the country and offer a tailor-made and cost effective solution. Most business owners and government officials always like proposals like this.

Sponsor a political candidate

Yes, this sounds unpleasant buts it works like magic. Many upcoming politicians require constant money to fund their political ambition be it in form of rallies, events and coordination. A financial support from you would be great, endearing you into their hearts. This makes you easy pick for juicy state contracts when it’s time for awarding contracts. Some African parties have their own set of ideology as to how much you can contribute to a political candidate; you might want to get familiarized with the party and state laws as regards that. But all in all, tact and diplomacy should be your watchword. As a businessman, it requires good judgment and foresight to be able to spot a winning candidate, and when you find one, be more than just a financial supporter, offer sincere contributions to his ambition and he will never forget you in his kingdom.

Get a good driver

To navigate through the gridlock of African cities you would need a very good driver who knows the nook and cranny of African cities. When selecting a driver, ensure you have done a background check on his history. You might get recommendation from trusted individuals before hiring any driver. The driver should be able to converse in the local dialects and should at least have a school leaver’s certificate.

Doing business in Africa hasnt been more profitable. Join leading businessmen hitting it big in Africa within one to two years here. I hope you enjoyed the article, you can read more on my blog coffeetimex.
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The Robots are Here and Now They Want To Write

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Stella has spent the better part of her life working as a writer for a financial media house churning out hundreds of earnings reports per year. She soon stumbles upon news that a startup is trying to automate the process of writing earnings report. Stella is happy that a program could do her job on the other hand she is sad that, it wouldn’t be long before her boss discovers this application; sending her and her colleagues into the streets.

This is what Stella and many of her colleagues would be facing in the coming years. The need for speed and the obsessive desire to remain globally competitive would force many companies to cut jobs faster than they can employ. From medicine, agriculture, industries the rise in technology is threatening the jobs of so many traditional workers and writers are not left out.

Ada Lovelace must have created the first computer program to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli equation but it’s the sheer speed and impact modern programs have on the society that would make her turn in her grave. Modern day computer programs have become robots capable of task deemed impossible years back.

Many scholars would agree for or against the fact that writing itself is a technology and not an art. According to history writing predates many technology like printing, electricity radio etc. In Mesopotamia were writing was believed to have started around 4th millennium BC, the intention was never to communicate but to evolve a system or process in to make trade and administration, which was becoming increasingly complex easy. Men would later realize that by writing, they could rely less on their memory, which was unpredictable and short-lived- hence a technology was born.

When Larry Page and Sergy Brin started Google in 1996, their simple goal was to make it easy to search for anything on the web, little did they know that their creation would alter the way people write on the web. Never in history have writers felt more restrained. Writing which was held as a tool for expression has now become the playground for the robots. According to revered SEO blogger, Dan Sullivan, there over 500 criteria that Google uses to rank a page, much are related to content. The message is quite clear, you either write the way we want or you die in obscurity.

Robots want us to write like them in the simplest manner to make their work of indexing simple. In as much as robots want to dictate how we write, they also want to do the actual writing. Wikipedia, the biggest archive of human knowledge is controlled and maintained by robots. From carrying out simple repetitive task like-linking articles, adding articles, replacing of citations and references-robots also carry out editorial works on the site. Wikipedia is controlled by about 700 human editors and over 700 bots whose scope of operation defies human capability. But the question on our mind should be, should robots do the actual writing?

This question brings us to the foundation of writing which is found in a language system. For a robot to fully automate the technology of writing, a program must understand the building block of language system which is alphabet, vocabulary, grammar and semantics. Experts believe grammar is too nuanced to be automated and understanding semantics is just as hard for humans as it will be for robots, requiring judgment and experience which is very hard for a string of code to execute. Covering each of these subjects will take another few write ups but a programmer who can marry these four elements together would have created the ultimate writing robot.

Science and technology is always on the upward march. It constant testing and validation coupled with its ability to learn from its past would see the robot eventually conquer its stumbling block.

The robots writers are not too far from us and when they eventually arrive the web will never remain the same again.

Humans over a period of four millennia have produced over 40 Zettabytes of data. The World Wide Web as at 2013 stood at 4 zettaytes of data. With the advances in artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data the robot writers could surpass human writings faster than we imagined.

Who are the people driving this change. In 2013, Yahoo bought Summly, a news summarization app from teenager Nick D’alosio. One would have to use the app to fully understand the genius behind it. Summly does not try to summarize by looking for certain data, keywords or phrases, it takes the piece as a whole and creates the abstraction through natural language selection technology. Nick D’alosio creation is the highest and purest attempt by man to automate the process of writing and appreciation of written work.

Other notable applications excel in abstracting data from sources using such data to form articles. Writings that are recurrent, predictive and data heavy are easily automated by robots. Artificial insights, a startup in the US plays big in natural language processing. Recently it received $5.5million from Associated Press and Samsung. Artificial insights want to power contents, currently producing millions of contents for companies like Yahoo and Microsoft.

Big companies like Intel, Google, Apple and Facebook are also into artificial intelligence and it wouldn’t be long before we produce the first bestselling Novel authored by a robot.