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FT: Frontier Market in Prime Position to Score

Author: William Wallis
June 2, 2010

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William Wallis takes a look at Africa's promising financial possibilities.

In the half century since colonial administrators began packing their pith helmets and heading home, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a string of false dawns.

Autocracies waxed and waned, accompanied by varying degrees of socialism, nationalism and capitalism. When they were not catastrophic the outcomes were often disappointing.

By the late 1990s, neither state intervention nor the World Bank medicine of austerity and market reforms that ensued had delivered to more than a handful of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 states self-sustaining economic growth, independent of foreign aid. To this day, only a handful of genuine democracies have taken root.

But could the football World Cup be taking place in Africa fortuitously just as the outlook brightens, with the strategic importance of the continent and improvements in the business climate simultaneously on the rise?

A steady flow of multibillion-dollar investments, reviving terms of trade and growing interest in regional markets suggest another opportunity is knocking at the continent's door.

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