An ‘Africa 101′ for U.S. businesses

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Renita Jablonski: Some prominent African-Americans and representatives from major U.S. companies have journeyed to Africa. They’re this week for the Leon H-Sullivan Summit. It’s named after the first African-American to sit on the board of a Fortune 500 company. The goal of this summit is to promote ties to lift the world’s poorest continent. Gretchen Wilson reports from Johannesburg.

Gretchen Wilson:
Delegates to the conference include prime ministers and senior executives from firms with big stakes in Africa — including Chevron, Proctor & Gamble, and mining giant Rio Tinto.

Rod Gillum is a vice president at General Motors, which makes cars in Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia:

Rod Gillum: Africa itself is increasing in importance, but also as they increase their influence as an important consumer market, I believe more and more corporations will want to expand and grow there.

So the summit also serves as an “Africa 101″ for U.S. businesses. They come here to find out the basics on which African markets are open for American products and services.

Gillum: And also I think in a way to demystify certain regions of the continent, that they are in fact open for business.

Delegates are also looking for ways business can help Africa with the ongoing challenges of climate change, unemployment, and rising food prices.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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