About the film
GABORONNE, BOTSWANA – It’s 2:25 on a weekday afternoon as four well-dressed men in their early 30s saunter into a small conference room, chat amicably and pour themselves tea. Just before 2:30, one reaches over to a small silver bell on the table.
Ding, ding, ding.
Numbers flash on the screen as they spring into action…Midrescue, fifty offered for twenty…I’ll take 30…RPC Data at 92…
The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) is open for trading.
The BSE may not be much – just a few guys having tea every afternoon – but looks can be deceiving. The BSE is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. In fact, many of Africa’s 18 stock exchanges regularly make the list of the world’s top ten performing markets.
Stock markets posting bull markets of more than 100% returns for the year. Investors doubling their money, tripling, even quadrupling. A mutual fund that averaged 60% a year since inception. How could this be? And why isn’t this leading the nightly news?
Africa’s unknown territory used to be the source of the Nile, jungles of West Africa and endless sand dunes of the Sahara. Today, explorers have charted the entire continent, but in the heart of major capitals of Africa is a region unknown to all but a few. But that is starting to change. Many top international corporations are in Africa. Even traditionally conservative institutional investors, including many pension funds, foundations and universities, are investing in the continent.
Africa Investment Horizons is about money, and lots of it. Investors – one after another – talk about astounding returns, doubling their money, even tripling. But at its heart, the film is the story of people working to create a new economic future for Africa, from two ivy-league educated Ghanaians who left top jobs on Wall Street to go back to Ghana and create the first mutual fund to the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, whose prudent management of her country’s vast diamond income has not only resulted in one of the highest per capital savings rates in the world, but also allowed the country to offer free education to all and anti-retrovirals to anyone with HIV/AIDS. These are people who understand that alleviating poverty is not enough. They know the only proven path to sustainable development is creating wealth.
The film shows the three major avenues for investment in Africa: capital markets, equity funds and launching a business. The rewards are shown, as are the risks. Stories of people making money are balanced by the realities of losing money in places like Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire, the West African country that had been considered among Africa’s most stable, until a sudden coup in 1999.
While the film features a fun romp through an economic landscape that is returning unheard of profits, it also offers a different view of Africa – an Africa that has coexisted with the better known Africa of disease and poverty, but a story almost never told. It is a story that Africa needs the world to see, and it is a story the world needs to see about Africa.