Doing Business in Southern Africa

Ever since South African Breweries pioneered the African beer market—and then went on to become the global titan known as SABMiller—South African companies have led the way into the risky markets of sub-Saharan Africa. All told, South Africans have plowed more than $8.5 billion into the sub-Saharan region, the U.N. estimates, making the country the biggest investor there.

Johannesburg cellular provider MTN was one of a handful of companies to prove that Africa could be a huge market for mobile phones. South African retailers such as Massmart, Shoprite, and packaged-food maker Tiger Brands are bringing Western-style shopping to Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and other far-flung locales. And Standard Bank has opened branches in 16 African countries that in many cases lacked even basic financial services.

South Africans bring a detailed understanding of the quirks of the local market, which may give them an advantage. But they also face increasing competition as companies from places such as Brazil, China, Nigeria, and the Middle East wake up to Africa's potential. "Africa is the next China," says Malcom Perrie, who oversees sub-Saharan Africa for U.S. auto-parts maker Federal Mogul.

Southern Africa boasts of slightly more than 10 countries with vast growing economies and there is no better opportunity than now to take advantage of it.

Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are the countries that are good for business