America Playing Catch Up in Africa

While most U.S. companies have focused international expansions on Asia and Latin America, China leapfrogged America in Africa. Now American companies are investing heavily to catch up. 

What's the Latest Development?

The C.E.O. of an American producer of machine engines says Africa reminds him of China or India a decade ago, when domestic consumer markets began opening to foreign trade. Now, thanks in great part to China, consumer and commodity markets are opening up across Africa. "China's exports to Africa last year totaled about $54 billion, up from $5.6 billion a decade before, according to the I.M.F. U.S. exports to Africa totaled $21 billion last year, up from $7.6 billion in 2000." Today, American companies are scrambling to catch up.

What's the Big Idea?

In the last two decades, Chinese investment in Africa has approximately doubled while North America's has remained constant. And now, with domestic household expenditure in Africa equal to that of India, a sizable consumer market is opening. Africa has been a more obvious choice for China's low-cost consumer goods compared with America's costlier products. Chinese companies, for example, have marketed cheap, gas-powered electricity generators while American companies have struggled to market their more powerful, more expensive goods.

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 


Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less