Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Ethiopia, Egypt and so much more; North Africa continues to offer increasing political stability along with low labour costs, increased privatisation, fast improving infrastructures, an educated workforce, and an enviable location strategically. These factors have made North Africa a great location for overseas investment. Doing business in North Africa can be challenging but also extremely rewarding for organisations that take the time to build relationships and to adapt to a different work culture.
The discovery of oil in Algeria and Libya initially made the region extremely attractive for foreign business but other sectors including infrastructure, telecoms, banking, mining, manufacturing and tourism are also attracting international investment.
North Africa is filled with a multitude of customs and even cultures, it is important to respect and respond to each as you become aware of it. Typically, North African’s prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore expect to spend time cultivating a personal relationship before business is conducted. Although business savvy is expected, who you know is more important than what you know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of contacts who will then likely assist you in working your way through the paperwork and bureaucracy that exists in most of the region. Be upfront and bold in your business approach, as this is necessary to move business forward. While western style of dress is common, modest dress codes are practiced.
The infrastructure of North Africa is fairly good and consistent in most cities, with bus services and cabs, however, it becomes less predictable as you head to rural areas and should be researched on a location by location basis. While most reputable airlines travel to major North African cities, North Africa boasts its own world-class airline, Ethiopian Airlines; competitively priced and with excellent business and economy class comforts and services.
The internet is a great resource when considering work or business travel into North Africa, for while the regions are becoming more and more open to foreign interests, there still exists red-tape and bureaucracy in regards to entering any of the countries of the region.
When you do arrive, however, you will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of hotels, restaurants and other amenities that exist and continue to pop up as the area increases in popularity. Most major hotel chains have a presence in North Africa and, of course, luxury resorts can be found from Morocco to Ethiopia. Four Seasons, Jumeirah and the Hyatt are all chains well-established in North Africa.