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Lagos, Nigeria.


the demand for oil has decreased, meaning that some of those initial contracts that were awarded are now being investigated and cancelled. This, in turn, has slowed the rate of investment and lowered busi- ness confidence.”


COMING BACK STRONGER It’s not all bad news, however. East believes that both Nigeria and Brazil will “come back stronger, not only financially but also in the areas of understanding and control- ling business”. He says these countries are learning a lot from these difficult times and are looking at how they can reduce their reliance on oil production. East adds: “Rather than talking about


emerging ‘nations’ I believe the [entire] continent of Africa could come to the forefront of emerging markets – espe- cially with the improving infrastructure and inward investment of some of the southern East African countries, such as


Easy riders


THE WORLD BANK’S 13TH ANNUAL DOING BUSINESS REPORT – which ranks countries on their ease of doing business – suggests that all but one of the BRICs and MINTs are making life slightly easier for corporate travellers. Brazil has climbed four places in the ranking, from 120th last year to 116th out of 189, while


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


the Russian Federation has improved from 62nd position to 51st. India has climbed 12 places to 130th in the past year, while China has moved up from 90th place to 84th in the rankings.


Mexico, which came 39th out of 189 last year, has inched up to 38th place, Indonesia has moved from 114th to


109th place, and Nigeria has moved up one place to 169th. The only non- mover in the charts is Turkey, which retains its 55th position. Singapore is reckoned to be the easiest place in the world to do business, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, South Korea, Hong Kong, the UK, the US, Sweden and Norway.


These countries are learning a lot from these difficult times and are looking at how they can reduce their reliance on oil production


Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya, that will benefit their citizens.” He is not alone in this belief in Africa’s potential. In his foreword to a Barclays Bank report, Africa: The UK’s Emerging Trade Partner, Kah Chye Tan, the bank’s then-global head of trade and working capital, said: “Today, no other continent offers such a unique mix of opportunity


and challenge as Africa. Many view Africa like a half-empty glass, citing its relatively small GDP, which is less than the UK’s. I can’t help but look at the continent as a glass half-full. It represents a huge op- portunity for UK business in terms of its future growth prospects alone. And with its population, huge land area and un- tapped natural resources, Africa’s potential is significant.” However, the report highlighted plenty of downsides. “The most significant hin- drance to Africa’s trade potential is its lack of regional, and therefore international, integration. It has a similar population to India but is comprised of 54 countries with just as many national frameworks, complex borders, tariff and non-tariff barriers. “The bureaucracy associated with these issues means transportation costs are three to four times those of developed coun- tries. This, combined with the continent’s fractured integration of infrastructure, power, transport and communications, has made Africa a traditionally hard place to effectively conduct business and trade.” Barclays surveyed 250 prominent UK business leaders who trade with Africa for the report, and one-fifth of these cited “cor- ruption” as the continent’s biggest chal- lenge. Among companies with a turnover of £100 million or more, 26 per cent said payment systems and poor infrastructure were the biggest hurdles to be overcome. John Gachora, then managing direc- tor of Barclays Africa, summed up: “The majority of trade issues in Africa stem from a stringent regulatory environment and excessive red tape between borders.” It’s not only difficult, it is also downright


dangerous. A December 2015 report from the Collinson Group, whose 360 Assis- tance portal alerts corporate travellers to security risks, said that Nigeria experienced 18 “level 3” alerts – which related to “at- tempted coups and terrorist threats” – in the first half of last year. Only the Yemen and Iraq had a worse record. Even so, ATPI director Peter Bost is another firm believer in African nations’ potential as trading partners and, conse- quently, for corporate travel growth – but he is not blind to the challenges travel managers face. Nigeria and Angola – the continent’s two largest oil-exporters, and therefore high on the list of business travel destinations – are, he says, “not neces-


BBT JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 81


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