A negative reputation has followed Africa since the bulk of the nations on that continent won independence from colonial occupation. Poverty, disease, hunger, war and corruption are closely associated with African countries in the minds of many people across the world. Such a perception could be on the verge of changing. Economic development opportunities are rising throughout Africa and investment there is poised to be the next big thing.
Early stages of economic growth have been good to many Africans. Millions have extracted themselves from poverty and attained middle-class status over the past decade. An increasing number of Africans are making major purchases and becoming a factor in the global economy. Investment opportunities are becoming more abundant on the continent.
Four areas offer the most untapped potential: energy, minerals, agriculture and technology.
Mineral exploration and energy development will continue to be a big part of Africa's future going forward. Africa is rich with oil and gas deposits. As demand for these energy resources increases, the continent's global economic importance will also grow. Investing in mineral extraction and processing is a high-risk, high-reward venture.
Agriculture offers a profitable investment because African land has untapped potential. Most African nations import their food despite having the capacity to produce enough food to feed their own citizens. Developing better techniques for producing, processing and preserving food will enhance the ability to create significant financial returns in the agriculture sector.
Technological growth has traditionally been slow for Africa. This is set to change as companies adapt their marketing strategies to fit the needs of African customers. As African nations make efforts to modernize infrastructure and set in place favorable economic policies, more global corporations will be encouraged to expand operations onto the continent.
Economic expansion in Africa will be driven by Africans acquiring marketable job skills, an improved education system throughout the continent, trade that is based on market factors rather than colonial routes and development of free trade areas in different regions.
One major obstacle to growth that remains is political instability. Stable governments will help Africans draw in foreign investment and create more sustainable community development.
Read more at Harvard Business Review.