UNTIL THE MID-19TH CENTURY, little was known about Africa, with the Victorians referring to it as the Dark Continent. Today, it has a population of 1.1 billion people and is under the spotlight as the business destination of the future.


But the risks and challenges of doing business in Africa remain high, with political instability, corruption, baffling regulations and poor infrastructure in some countries causing concern. In others, there are many business opportunities.

Says Richard Fenning, CEO of Control Risk: “Africa is certainly one of the most complex and challenging markets in the world. Nevertheless, slowing growth and higher competition in other parts of the globe, combined with a reduction in red-flag risks across many parts of Africa, is resulting in unprecedented investor and exporter interest across the continent.”

The six cities in our survey, each a key gateway to other African destinations as well as major business centres in their own right, are well up to speed.

Ghana has made major strides in consolidating its democratic and fiscal programme; Ethiopia has one of Africa’s top performing economies; Nigeria is Africa’s biggest exporter of oil; Kenya has made significant economic reforms that have contributed to sustained growth; and South Africa’s unsteady economy has a silver lining in the wealth of new start-ups in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Whatever your product or service, it could be rewarding to add a safari to Africa to this year’s diary.

British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Accra daily. The same frequency is offered by KLM out of Amsterdam Schiphol and Emirates from Dubai.

Ethiopian Airlines serves its home base from Heathrow daily, the same frequency as Lufthansa flies there from Frankfurt. Services out of the Gulf include Gulf Air’s five flights a week from Bahrain to Addis, Emirates’ daily operation from Dubai, and Qatar Airways’ thrice-weekly departures from Doha.

British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Cape Town twice-daily. Lufthansa operates daily flights from Munich, Air France has three a week departing Paris Charles de Gaulle and KLM operates daily from Schiphol. From the Gulf, Emirates flies from Dubai to Cape Town twicedaily, and Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways operate daily out of Abu Dhabi and Doha respectively.

From Heathrow, South African Airways and BA fly to Jo’burg twicedaily, and Virgin Atlantic offers daily flights. Services from the continent include daily flights from their bases by KLM, Air France and Lufthansa. Emirates has 28 flights a week out of Dubai, Etihad Airways operates daily from Abu Dhabi and Qatar Airways flies twice-daily from Doha.

From Heathrow, Virgin, British Airways and Arik Air all fly daily to Lagos. The same frequency is provided from their hubs by Air France, Lufthansa and KLM. Flights from the Gulf include Emirates’ and Qatar Airways’ twice-daily operations out of Dubai and Doha respectively, while Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Lagos eight times a week

British Airways and Kenya Airways both fly daily from Heathrow to Nairobi. KLM departs daily from Schiphol, and Lufthansa thriceweekly out of Frankfurt. Emirates serves the Kenyan capital 11 times a week, Etihad Airways twice-daily, and Qatar Airways three times a day, all from their hubs in the Gulf.

Air travel is the fastest and most efficient way of getting around Africa, and the six destinations featured have good internal and regional links. Cities served by major carriers offer the best networks. Ethiopian Airlines, for example, flies from its base in Addis Ababa to 20 domestic destinations and has a Pan-African network. Similarly, Kenya Airways serves five domestic locations from Nairobi and has regional flights to Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. South African Airways, a dominant force on the continent, serves 16 domestic destinations, in addition to cities across Africa. Air Fares are generally quite expensive and Africa as a whole has only ten low-cost carriers. The number is expanding, however, and a growing middle class is stimulating cheaper fares and greater capacity.