What U.S. Companies Fear About Doing Business In Africa

What U.S. Companies Fear About Doing Business In Africa

When it comes to doing business in Africa, some U.S. companies may be put off from going there by fears of corruption, a fragmented U.S. government approach to the continent and a decline of U.S. influence there, according to a report in BusinessWeek.

South Africa, the No. 1 African economy, ranked 69th on Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions scorecard, the BusinessWeek report said. Nigeria, Africa’s second-biggest market, ranked 139th, near the bottom of the 176 countries measured.

Honeywell International Inc. has offices in South Africa, Angola and Nigeria. African markets are “of increasing interest,” said David Cote, CEO, in the report, “But corruption is the thing I always worry about the most.”

At least 10 U.S. government agencies are involved in setting trade and investment policy in Africa, according to a March 7 report by Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa.

Just six foreign commercial service officers are stationed in sub-Saharan Africa, covering an area that stretches 4,000 miles with a population of about 900 million people, the report says.

Coons, Democratic Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin and Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, have introduced a bill to force the White House to better manage trade with Africa. The bill sets a goal of increasing U.S. exports to Africa by 200 percent in 10 years, according to BusinessWeek.