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.
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Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.
The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.
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