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Big risk, big profit

War, famine, AIDS, corruption: the news out of Africa is always bad. Yet a handful of international banks and investors say that their African operations are hugely profitable and the rest of the world is overlooking wonderful opportunities. A number of sub-Saharan countries are throwing off their reputations for economic mismanagement, liberalizing their markets and promoting the private sector. Chris Cockerill reports



       
Africa has been a more attractive destination
for tourists than for investors

The tarnished leaders of sub-Saharan Africa face huge challenges in marketing the region's potential to international investors. But, apart from Robert Mugabe, who local bankers blame for discrediting the entire region, they are at least trying to persuade the world that Africa has changed.


Some are more convincing than others.


"Botswana is one of the unsung heroes at the moment," says Jollian Irwin, a stockbroker based in Namibia. "It just gets on quietly and does the right thing." An analyst based in South Africa agrees: "Botswana is a little gem. It's small, but the macroeconomic numbers are great and it's run very efficiently."


Judging from the number of BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes on the newly tarred roads in Gabarone, Botswana's capital, no one has told the locals that there is a crisis of confidence in the region.







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