I’ve just returned from visiting Ethiopia, and was lucky enough to mix in the circles of the foreign correspondents based there.
There was a definite buzz in Addis Ababa about the level of investment flowing into the country. I was surprised to see that an office block under construction was beeing developed by a fellow Irishman (the hoarding featured the flag!). Last year investment into emerging markets reached an all time high but like everywhere, unsurprisingly, a slow down is predicated. Speaking to some of the correspondents, however, they were curious to benchmark the huge growth in Addis versus developing Asian countries. It’s hard to compare, and I’m by no means an expert. Although it seems to lag behind visible investment/development in Vietnam or Cambodia (which I also recently visited), it is remarkable.
One famous Ethiopian journalist I spoke to remarked about the “unconditional” investment being poured in from China (it was visible to me without prompting) versus the conditions set by Western companies, and set by their own agenda. He confidently predicted how Western countries were losing out long term on the increasing south-south cooperation. With Indian and Chinese influence increasing, the question of global power shifting was debated long into the night over many glasses of tej.
What is clear is that Western companies and countries are losing trust in Ethiopia and other Eastern Horn countries at least. It reminded me of some of the basic trust building communication activities I advise clients to follow here in Korea, and how it really is more the case of how ‘foreign’ investors need to make strides in adapting and appreciating local cultures to be successful. A lot of this is founded on the history and mistrust brewed between foreign companies and the Korean business environment as it grew or needed outside investment to stimulate its growth.
I guess the same mistakes are made in all parts of the world. But by China?