Perception is a peculiar and powerful concept. By definition it means to recognise, discern, envision or understand something that is picked up by any of your five senses. And as I’m sure we’ve all experienced at one point or another, not everything we perceive is necessarily the reality of the situation.
This seems to be a significant theme when it comes to discussing the relationship between the United States and the African continent.
On one side, part of what has been holding back many American businesses, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to large corporations, is that most of the information coming out of Africa is distilled through mainstream media outlets, like CNN, NBC, Fox News and so forth. And there is a popular saying in media that goes something like this: “If it bleeds, it leads.” The idea being that, the more shocking or horrible it is, the more people will notice it and tune in.
It’s an unfortunate philosophy, but media is also an industry and each network is a business that has to answer to its own advertisers and shareholders. However, what this has meant is that the average American hasn’t truly been exposed to many of the success stories coming out of the continent. This, of course, has led to the continued perception that Africa is too risky for American FDI.
However, there is a tangible shift that is starting to take place, from the launch of the U.S. – South African Business Council and statements by high-profile economists, like Dambisia Moyo, arguing that the U.S. may have to dive in more aggressively, beyond simply aid, before it loses out on profitable economic opportunities to China and the like. Our cover story talks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to get an in-depth understanding of its goals and what steps need to be taken for real bilateral/multilateral trade to occur.
In this issue, Juliet Langton also brings us her exclusive interview with South Africa’s Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters and asks her why the South African government has set itself such ambitious targets for increasing its renewable energy use, and what it is doing to ensure it hits them.
We invite you to engage with our conversations online on Twitter (@AfricanBJournal) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of an interesting initiative in Africa, a notable member of the business community we should highlight, or a company that deserves notice, please reach out. We want to tell your stories because knowledge shared is knowledge gained.
I hope you enjoy this issue,