Are African-American Investors Missing the Boat On the New Global Scramble for Africa?

Imagine a Magic Johnson Theater in Nigeria,Ghana or South Africa, the nations leading the boom in the African film industry? Imagine going to a news stand in Africa & seeing African editions of Essence, The Source, Vibe or Ebony? Imagine Black filmmakers & actors in America instead of complaining about the lack of opportunities in Hollywood, investing their talents & vision in the rapidly growing African film industry where they will find a film industry that produces more films than Hollywood & has never needed Hollywood’s money, permission or endorsement to make the types of films they see fit for an automatic audience of millions to billions waiting to be served. Imagine Bad Boy Entertainment or Roc Nation setting up shop in a continent of black diamonds with a globally booming music & general entertainment industry? Imagine a new era of Black manufacturing power with a Made In Africa label that surpasses China?

Well we can only imagine because it seems major African-American owned businesses are missing the boat on African expansion, while their American, European & Chinese counterparts have seen the light to the future & are subsequently reaping large profits from their investments. Many major Black owned businesses in America have fallen or have been sold because they never thought to partner with their African counterparts who boasts the largest number of Black billionaire investors in the world. If Jay Z wants to learn about how a black man can become a billionaire, Oprah or Warren Buffett can only tell him about the possibility, while Billionaires like Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote can actually show him in the flesh-but the real question is has Jay Z ever even heard the name Aliko Dangote?

In recent years, though, there have been signs that a shift is under way. A wave of Western investment in African cinema has focused on sustainability and long-term growth. Rather than using Africa as a picturesque backdrop for big-budget studio productions, filmmakers from outside the continent and various fests are looking to cultivate a new generation of African talent…”We’re trying to set a stage where African filmmakers are reaching out to each other … (and) also are in dialogue with folks here in the States,” says Focus Features topper James Schamus, who, three years ago, helped lay the groundwork for the company’s Africa First program with Completion Films prexy Kisha Cameron-Dingle...” READ MORE

The era of the type of Pan-Africanism of  Dr. Nkrumah, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Malcolm X etc. that sprouted up in the 60’s & 70’s had Black Americans moving to African nations like Ghana & Tanzania seeking better lives while investing in the growth of Africa seems to be a thing of the past, locked away in a memory box that has not been passed down to the generations after. If you visit Ghana today, there is a large community of Black Americans who have been living in Ghana for decades on sprawling beach front properties & acres of land that they could have never imagined renting let alone owning in America. Many of them took advantage of the offer made by many Pan-African African nations during the 60’s & 70’s & even in recent times for African descendants in America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and all over the world to return to Africa to claim their roots by investing & helping to rebuild Africa. Many of these African descendants from places like Jamaica, USA, Brazil & Cuba were given land to settle & build in Africa & many of them have dual citizenships from these African nations & the nations of their birth.

In Ghana, you will find a community of Garveyites named after Marcus Garvey & his push for global Africans to become economically empowered by uniting together to build up Africa; you will also find a significant Jamaican population rooted in the push for global African unity & the works of Rita Marley, who has made Ghana her home for many years & has made such significant contributions to the Black Star nation that she is considered an unofficial Ambassador of the people. Most people don’t know that Rita Marley has re-built the legendary Studio One in Ghana, opening up a new era for future historical music to be made on African soil. Studio One in Ghana burnt down in 2010, but Rita Marley, ever the warrior queen has vowed to rebuild it & continue the mission & the vision of  the Marley legacy. Many may not know that Studio One was responsible for launching the careers of Bob Marley & the Wailers not Island Records & Chris Blackwell, who finally debunked the myth at an interview at the American Society’s Bob Marley Symposium when he declared not to have hung out or really known Bob Marley personally outside of the few times they recorded music together. By the time Bob Marley was involved with Island Records, he already had a global following, Chris Blackwell just provided greater distribution of what the people of the world already were familiar with & wanted at the time & for generations to come. Unfortunately we allow our history not to be passed down properly in giving credit & ownership to ourselves for the great achievements we have made all on our own as global African decendants, by working in cohesion & cooperation with one another.

It is sad to see so many franchises & businesses opening up all over African nations with a booming middle class population in a continent that has seen a technological boom to rival any other continent, with few to no Black American involvement. According to McKinsey Reports: Nigeria alone had more internet users in 2010 than Russia & England combined & by end of 2011 with fiber optic cable being laid from Europe to Nigeria by Nigerian billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote, there will be more internet users in Nigeria alone than England, Russia & France combined. Not all Black owned businesses have missed the boat on Africa, Robert Johnson the original founder of BET has invested heavily in Liberia through building 4 star hotels amongst other investments & BET International moved into the African market in 2008.

With technology eliminating the idea of  national & international borders in business, Africa who basically moved online before configuring stability of its landline has become the promise land for the future of businesses targeting growing middle class consumers who have found new wealth in their resources & global competitiveness. Africa’s mobile giant MTN posted a record profit of 1.9 billion USDA in 2009 , which was lower than expected,with higher profit margins set for 2010-2011. Many Africans abroad have decided to be part of Africa’s brain gain by returning home to the nations of their birth or their parents birth, as they quickly catch on to the massive development in Africa that is ongoing & booming, while much of the world continues to suffer through the global recession. The United Nations has declared 2011: International Year of African Descendants & Africa is on course to live up to the prediction, I can only hope  African descendants in America & in other nations outside of Africa will reach the mountain top of excellence & forward movement with their mainland counterparts through investment & commitment in seeing our global worth & wealth through our solidarity.

“Africa for the Africans… at home and abroad! I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there. ..A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots…” Marcus Garvey

‎”No effort has been made 2 unite the Afro-American community or the American Negro community with the West Indian Community & then those 2 communities with the African community & those communities with the Asian community..this has never been done… There’s a world wide revolution going on” This is happening in Africa-Get Globally Fused!


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  • Bikila bi Gwet

    November 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I enjoyed the article very much. Indeed a lot is going on in Africa in a good direction.

    1) There seems to be a focus from many African Americans towards “English-speaking” Africa; many examples in the article confirm that tendency. I strongly suggest not letting the language of former colonial masters stand between any part of Africa and Africans from the Diaspora. Although such a focus is otherwise justified – British colonialism is widely believed to be the lesser of two evils – other guiding principles (business opportunities, potential for development, and even mitochondrial-DNA-specified ethnic origins, etc.) might be important.
    2) Even in African countries where the most positive changes occur, the transition period is still underway, with forces of the past deeply entrenched in corruption that are fighting to death to hold onto their illicit privileges.
    3) Many investors from the west, China, even Northern Africa (and elsewhere) are quick to adopt the ways of former colonial masters, quickly giving kickbacks to corrupt officials, sometimes to win contracts away from local African entrepreneurs with limited financial means but with great talent.
    4) It is therefore important for African American investors to seek and find local nationalist businessmen and businesswomen with no compromise – often US-trained and with years if not decades of experience in developed markets; they know the ins and outs of local environments and will help black investors from the Diaspora prevent local civil servants from diverting capital into personal pockets of a few “officials” who have no interest in the development of Africa. They too, have become very sophisticated – fabricating fictive consulting firms and awarding themselves contracts, sometimes financed with international funds.

  • reality check

    November 25, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    When you are a fugitive hiding out of US it’s difficult to be credible, the previous article, good for the dumpster.

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