Wiese: I'm a rare breed – an Africa optimist | Fin24
 
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Wiese: I'm a rare breed – an Africa optimist

Jun 15 2016 16:38
Carin Smith

Cape Town – “I am a fairly rare breed – I am an Africa optimist,”billionaire SA businessman Christo Wiese told delegates at the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum on Wednesday.

He said the problem was that Africa had been suffering a lot of bad press for the past decades – about poverty and corruption among others.

“Perhaps the media – especially the daily media - does not have the resources to give a wider perspective of the continent. This creates an image of Africa as a continent of backward countries with backward leaders. It is a skewed perception,” said Wiese.

“Africa is a wonderful continent of contrasts and a lot to be admired and that can give hope.”

Later in his speech Wiese admitted that red tape, graft and corruption were still problems on the continent.

At the same time Wiese said a clear distinction must be made between the potential of the continent and the current reality of doing business.

“Africa is still in a transition with a range of economies in the process of developing. I have conducted retail in Africa for 20 years through Shoprite and have witnessed enormous changes on the continent,” he said.

“The future is undoubtedly bright, but the single largest drawback on the continent is the lack of infrastructure...though South Africa is maybe an exception. This challenge is actually dwarfed by electricity problems.”

For Wiese Rwanda is an example of a country which has embraced the digital revolution and improved its business environment.

He said a lack of intra-African trade is another drawback on the continent as less than 20% of trade on the continent is among African countries themselves and he would like to see an increase.

“To do business in Africa you need a long term commitment to the continent and we said that when we entered the rest of Africa. We simply had to make it work.

"We stuck it out and are reaping the benefits today,” said Wiese.

“Make sure Africa is where you want to be because you need staying power if you want to be successful on this continent.”

shoprite  |  christo wiese  |  cape town  |  retail  |  economy
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