Business with the Horn – A case of looking through colanders
If has been fascinating to monitor the international media with regards to coverage of the Horn and East Africa over the last eighteen months. Assuming that editors are even prepared to give to run a story at all the stories have been depressingly predictable, ranging from stories of Somali pirates and militants, child soldiers and outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Uganda, and famine and inter-ethnic strive along the disputed border between South Sudan and its northern neighbour. The HABA region is no stranger to climatic and geo-political woes, but equally is beginning to attract serious interest as a gateway into Africa and as an emerging economic zone in its own right. Negativity and well-worn stereotypes apart, there has been a frisson of interest from those interested in hydrocarbons. Whilst thought of petro-dollars has excited some in the business press, the more discerning have noted serious investment in infrastructure along with signs of improved aviation links. IT, solar energy and livestock are all areas that look to have considerable potential. When it comes to the Horn rarely do journalists, analysts or policy makers see the whole picture, it is as if they appear to be looking at the region through colanders. For some risk, both perceived and actual risk frames every decision taken, while for others much of East Africa and all of the Horn is viewed as a forbidding terra incognito. What is required is a rational and informed approach to a part of Africa that is already proving a useful entry point into Central and Sub-Saharan Africa – HABA for its part is determined to help others to see more clearly.