For as long as global commerce has been a financial reality, Europe and the rest of the first world have wittered on about the lack of transparency and opaque business practices of what they termed the dark continent. Meanwhile, Africa has soldiered on as the world tries to recover from the economic turmoil of the 2008 credit crunch, which resulted from its own dabbling in the opaque. Certainly the mindset of corporate South Africa increasingly seems to turn to exploiting trade and relationships across Africa, rather than the single-minded focus towards Europe and the USA prevalent less than a decade ago.
The visa business in South Africa has seen a dramatic change from the almost exclusive focus on Schengen countries for the South African executive travelling on business. Today, visas are far more likely to be needed for neighbouring states. While not entirely scientific, migration and visa specialist Global Visas’ internal data on who is doing business with who and where makes for interesting reading around the changing economic landscape of Africa. Over the past 18 months there has been a massive 300% increase in visa applications from South Africans for Nigeria, says Daniel Anvari-Brown of Global Visas South Africa. Given the country’s emerging powerhouse reputation, this is perhaps not so surprising. But while Nigeria may dominate headlines when it come to Africa’s economic growth, it is certainly not the only market in favour with domestic business.
Over the same period, says Anvari-Brown, records show an impressive growth trajectory for South Africans needing visas to do business in Uganda and Ghana, with increases of 230% and 115% respectively. Similarly, data from London shows executives from the UK are also beating a path to Africa to do business, with most interest again being weighted towards Nigeria and the colonially familiar Kenya.