Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Exclusive Interview with Dr Martyn Davies CEO of Frontier Advisory

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Martyn Davies.
He is the CEO of Frontier Advisory.

The Frontier Advisory will be bringing their Africa Frontiers Forum to Durban next month
to discuss 'Insight Into Doing Business in Angola.'

                 Dr Martyn Davies

I asked him some questions:

What Is The Frontier Advisory and What is the Africa Frontiers Forum?

The Frontier Advisory is a research advisory, engaging in frontier and emerging markets.  We deal in market strategy, show companies ways to improve their chances of success.  We deal with Africa and Asia.

The Africa Frontiers Forum started 2 years ago.  It is a monthly seminar, we have talks about Africa.  We have them in Johannesburg 12 times a year at the JSE.  WE also have them in Durban and Cape Town.
Corporate sponsors include the JSE, TIKZN, Wesgro, Brand SA and MTN.   It is a forum on business topics relating to Africa.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to do business in Angola?

It is a difficult and challenging place to do business.  The State is heavily involved in the business world.
You should do due diligence.  Use a joint venture project.  Have a strategy plan on how to deal with the Government.

There is high risk and also high return.
South Africa is behind the curve in Angola.   President Zuma is trying to repair and build contacts in Angola.
It is time to catch up for South Africa.

What other African country impresses you at the moment, business wise?

Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana.

These countries are comfortable for SA capital.

Rwanda and Ethiopia impress me, they both have minimal corruption.
They are both progressive economies.

What was it like to lecture at Harvard?

It's great to balance life.  Step back and look at how you approach life.  I am invited to lecture often, this
takes you to different worlds, like the academic sector.

In business what do you think the Chinese do better than any other country?

They make decisions better than other countries.  The Chinese have invested heavily in Angola.
They are a great performer.  They have the ability to deploy capital.

I notice you are a keen cyclist.  Do you think South Africa is doing enough to protect cyclists on the road?

People are getting killed on our roads all the time.  Just recently I heard of another cyclist that was killed.
We all know the tragic case of Burry Stander.  There is a culture in this country of senselessness of SA drivers.  A lot more needs to be done.  This is not really a government problem, it's a cultural problem.
People need to rethink how they drive on the roads.

You have an event coming up in Durban on March 14th.  Tell us a bit about it and who should attend?

The Africa Frontiers Forum will be having an event in Durban and it is all about doing business in Angola.
KZN business needs to understand how to do business in key African economies.   We did a function recently in Umhlanga on doing business in Mozambique and over 100 people attended.
Hence we feel this event is important.   KZN has not had the advice about doing business in Angola.
We will be bringing speakers who have hands on experience and helping with advice on how to do business in

What advice do you have for young South African Entrepreneurs?

I gave a lecture recently and I mentioned this, as an entrepreneur you are launching a business in a economy with 40% unemployment.   We are similar to Portugal at the moment.  They are in crisis.
The challenge is it is very difficult unlike China with a 8% growth economy.  There is lots of opportunity there.  Ours is a 2% economy.   You need to have the confidence, have the finanacial skills, work hard, long hours, much harder than you would elsewhere.  The opportunities in Africa are immense.  Wide open markets.  There is not much competition.

Be aggressive on going after your business opportunities.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I have 3 books on the go

Red by Gary Neville

On China by Henry Kissinger

Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

The Africa Frontiers Forum Presents 
Leveraging Commercial Opportunities In Angola
Hilton Hotel, Durban 14th March.
To book visit their website:

(Picture courtesy of Frontier Advisory, Article by +Fred Felton)  

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

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