Can you briefly describe your own perspective on Africa?
Well, Africa is an exciting, dynamic, and fast-growing market, but it is important to remember it is not a homogeneous country; it is a vast and complex continent. There are 54 separate countries, each with its own individual legal jurisdiction. Over the next 10 years, gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 6 percent, faster than anywhere else in the world. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is up from $15 billion in 2002 to $87 billion in 2014. And there is a higher return on capital investment in Africa than anywhere in the world. So I think it is a very exciting place.
Since joining Kroll, what have been your experiences so far?
Well so far, I have traveled to several strategic African markets for Kroll, including South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, and Ivory Coast. We have been busy meeting huge numbers of people, both in the government and private sector, and hosting dinners, speaking at conferences … and at every opportunity, explaining what Kroll can do as well as discussing how Kroll’s expertise might be relevant to a number of heads of state of key African countries.
What kind of conversations or issues have people wanted to discuss with you and Kroll?
It is a very broad range, depending on the type of client, their business, their exposure to Africa, and the nature of their problem. In recent weeks, we have been asked about due diligence, investigations, data analysis, market entry strategy, and competitor and transaction intelligence, among others.
What is your own assessment of Africa as a place to do business?
Africa has huge potential, but you need to know your way around. The investment and country selection are all important, as are relationships, understanding your wider investment climate, and securing a reliable local partner. But the potential is simply enormous. And the economic growth and development genie is out of the bottle and with the advent of social media, impossible to reverse.
What early impressions have you formed of Kroll and its capabilities?
Kroll is full of very talented and capable people, determined and driven to provide first class service tailored to the individual client’s needs; they’re equally energetic and enthusiastic about building on the business we are already doing in Africa.
What are your plans for Kroll in Africa in 2016?
A key priority is to facilitate and enable a greater understanding of the breadth of service provision that Kroll can provide to both governments and the private sector across Africa. We also aim to help businesses invest wisely and with full information, and then facilitate greater capacity within African governments and central banks.
Where do you think Kroll brings the most value to investors and corporates in Africa?
Kroll provides a detailed knowledge and understanding of the differences between individual countries and marketplaces in Africa, providing market entry strategies, competitive intelligence, investor intelligence, transaction intelligence, and political risk assessments as well as internal fraud investigations.
And finally, have you seen anything positively unexpected or surprising during your time at Kroll so far?
I have been energized by the excitement created by opportunities in Africa and the enthusiasm from across the Kroll offices to engage and bring various expertise and experience to bear for the benefit of investors as well as government and financial institutions.
By RT. Hon. Mark Simmonds, Senior Consultant in Kroll's Africa practice.