Growth of Regional Banks in Africa

African banks are expanding into neighbouring countries and further afield benefiting from their knowledge and expertise in familiar territory.

Over the last five years Africa has witnessed a growing trend for Africa’s home-grown banking groups to extend their franchises beyond their own borders, with about 15 of them already exploring new territories. Regionalisation has become a prominent part of African banks’ strategies as these historically local players continue their ongoing search for growth and a way to diversify their earnings as competition increases in their home markets.

Obviously Africa’s high-growth economies are an attraction, but one of the key drivers of bank regional expansion is linked to clients expanding across the continent as they too take advantage of the opportunities Africa offers. Banks therefore are following their clients to areas where activity in the purchase and sales of goods are prevalent, perfectly addressing their own growth strategies.

Building local knowledge and expertise is important and forms the foundation for any bank’s expansion plan. Consequently, proximity to a bank’s home country is a key competitive advantage, as banks are usually more familiar with their neighbours than with countries in distant destinations. A good example of successful regionalisation is the robust expansion of Kenyan banks like KCB, CBA, Equity Bank and Co-Op Bank into East Africa (South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda). In South Sudan, banks like KCB, for example have had first mover advantage and are now part of the biggest banking groups in the country.

Also helping bank regionalisation is the growth of regional trading hubs between port cities (Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) and between countries inland (like Uganda and Rwanda), opening opportunities for banking products and services.

However, banks are also moving further afield to take advantage of high-growth markets. An example of this has been the rapid expansion of some Nigerian banks into Africa. UBA Nigeria and Ecobank have a presence in over 15 countries on the continent. While there may not be natural trade flows or client expansion into these new markets, Nigerian banks looked at avenues to diversify their funding base, taking advantage of earnings from high-growth sectors in growing countries. This strategy is a long-term play as earnings growth is usually much slower but intrinsic value is built in these franchises along with a brand and relationships.

But the risks of regional development cannot be ignored. Unexpected regulatory changes within a country can be swift and can significantly change the economic landscape, something for which banks need to be prepared. An example is the recent requirement in Zambia for foreign-owned banks to increase their capital from US$5-million to $100-million.

Credit risk and asset diversification are other key elements for banks to assess as they diversify into other regions. Often banks first initiatives in a new country are trade related but in order to compete with local players, they usually need to diversify to gain a deposit base and build traction in their earnings. This inevitably means a move into the retail segment at some point. However, growth in retail banking presents a two-pronged challenge. Firstly, a branch network is expensive. In Mozambique, for example, a single branch costs in the region of $1-million to set up from scratch. Secondly, a growing retail base often leads to higher bad debts and banks need to be prepared for the fact that the retail space will attract higher non-performing loans than the corporate space. Getting the correct balance between corporate, investment and retail banking is the key to success for African banks expanding across the continent.

But, so far, banks are benefitting from their expansion into Africa – earnings are steadily growing and franchises are being built across the continent. A core theme which is emerging as part of this recipe for success is the successful integration of local talent with home country expertise.

However, with time, regional expansion will become more difficult and expensive for new entrants which do not have an existing presence in African markets, unless they are prepared to pay a handsome premium to acquire a regional banking franchise. For those which have already taken the risk, It’s an exciting time and the development and expansion of African banks should mean they will soon be able to compete with any in the rest of the world, if they are not doing so already.

About the author

Suresh Chaytoo heads FirstRand Bank’s International Financial Institutions and Development Financial Institutions business.

Suresh joined FirstRand Bank in January 2011 as regional head of Financial Institutions for Africa and Latin America with the responsibility for supporting FirstRand Bank’s strategic business expansion in Africa. He was appointed as sector
director to head the business in May 2013.

Prior to 2011, his previous assignments during his 20+ year career in banking include tenures as vice president and regional head of Financial Institutions (Middle East and Africa) for ICICI Bank Limited in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and head of Channel Finance at Citigroup South Africa.

Suresh has also held positions within Structured Trade Finance and Corporate Banking during his career.

He holds an MBA, a degree in Commerce and a CAIB (SA) qualification from the Institute of Bankers in South Africa.

Small Scale Enterprises are Sustainable Foreign Direct Investments

In this article Mazdak outlines the aspects which characterize SMEs as sustainable FD Investors and the relevance of SMEs as sustainable FDIs.

There has always been a deep discrepancy in the economic science and literature on the evaluation of foreign direct investment (FDI) for the development of the host countries. Many case studies from the second part of 20th century point out the reckless behavior of foreign investors and the economical and ecological damages caused to the society of the host country. Despite these negative aspects, the majority of the latest economic literature is in favor of FDI and is convinced of its positive effects on overall economic development. Apart from financial resources, foreign investors also provide new technologies and know-how, new jobs and other positive impulses for the economic growth of the country they emigrate to. Constantly assessing every economy by criteria such as market size, efficiency level or the existing natural resources, foreign investors are hunting for new destinations for their commercial activities.

Thus, there is extreme competition to attract FDI among developing and developed countries. Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) and trade organizations are created to communicate the advantages of the host countries to the international FDI community. Trade and investment policies are liberalized and incentives are put in place in the battle to attract foreign investors. Surveys and economical reports from internationally renowned organizations such as the competiveness reports and rankings of World Economic Forum and IMD Institute of Lausanne or the Doing Business Report of The World Bank keep monitoring the economic framework of each country and their optimization efforts.

SMEs in the FDI world

A closer examination of the FDI theory and practice shows that they mainly reflect the behavior patterns and decision-making processes of Multinational Corporations (MNCs). The reason for this fact lays in the history of FDI, which has always been directly linked to cross-boarder activities of MNCs. European companies such as Virginia Company owned by King James I and East India Company were among the oldest corporations with international trade structures set up by FDI in the beginning of 17th century. Seeking natural resources, better trade infrastructure, cheap labor and effective entry into new markets, the MNCs were involved in many regions and different economic sectors. MNC activities included projects in railways, mining, tramways, water, gas, electricity, banking, insurance, finance, land plantations and agriculture. Although very complex and cost intensive, most of the FDI projects (predominantly in mining and manufacture sector) were extremely profitable for the MNCs, not least because of their strong influence in the host country. For the same reasons FDI remained predominantly a playground for MNCs for more than 2 centuries.

The counterparts of the MNCs are the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). In most countries SMEs are the beating heart of the domestic economy. They have the biggest share of employment and fuel innovation through research and developments and practical experience. In many cases SMEs are called “the hidden champions” dominating their economic sector even beyond the borders of their home countries.

Historically SMEs focused their commercial activities on the domestic and regional markets. Traditionally their international business is based on two pillars: a) exporting goods (mainly regionally) and b) serving MNCs of their country as suppliers, trusted partners and subcontractors. However, continuing globalization of the last 3 decades changed the local, regional and international business framework for the SMEs, specifically in the developed countries. The increasing relocation of their MNC clients to regions with cheap labor put them under enormous pressure to internationalize. The liberalization of global markets led to lower prices which strengthened their foreign competitors. Weak domestic markets made it inevitable for SMEs to reach out directly for lucrative projects in emerging markets. Despite their limited experience and financial abilities it was inevitable for them to internationalize their business to a much higher level and also become members of the FDI community.

Sustainable development: MNCs versus SMEs

While the vast majority of FDI research concentrates on inflow and outflow, motivation, attraction and the impact of FDI, little has been said about the differences between MNCs and SMEs as foreign direct investors. The Brundtland Commission Report’s definition of sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs” offers a suitable scale for assessment of both groups. Their behavior in the host country can be examined with respect to the three dimensions of sustainability: economical, ecological and social. Evidently, a thorough scientific research on this topic would go beyond the frame of this article. However, a few examples and experiences from the FDI daily business are enough to explain an existing difference in this field.

Having strong political influence, an active international network, vast financial and human resources, MNCs have the power to optimize their benefits in all three dimensions. Economically they secure their know-how, occupy key positions in their foreign ventures and partnerships with their own staff and optimize the financial outcome of their activities for their shareholders. Case studies from production facilities of the US automotive industry in South America from end of the last centuries are suitable examples for this aspect. Up to today the MNCs negotiate existing commercial laws and regulation to create the best tax environment, subsidies and any other possible support or advantage from the government of the host country before making any investment decisions abroad. Ecologically MNCs use the natural recourses of the host country without paying attention to the ecosystem or wellbeing of the local environment. Large oil and mining companies in African countries are still withstanding the international pressure to comply with global ecological standards. Numerous reports document the horrific damages of the local landscape, water supplies or forests in African, Asian or South American countries caused by reckless exploration of local resources. The daily activities of the MNC employees and their families are mostly kept separated from the society of the host country, which makes social exchange, interaction or integration almost impossible. In some countries personal safety or cultural differences makes this kind of separation necessary. However, in other cases the employer even imports their food from their home country and their staff remains in separate camps in their free time with all their needs taken cared of by their companies.

The circumstances for SMEs as foreign direct investors are considerably different. Not being as influential and powerful as MNCs, economically SMEs have to comply with the local rules and regulations and face all existing challenges in the host country with their own limited abilities and recourses. Lack of financial resources makes SMEs much more careful with their activities and much more dependent on the market of the targeted country. The shortage of human resources forces them to hire and educate local staff. In many cases they even have to train the staff of their local suppliers, distributors or contracting partners to ensure the quality of their products and services for the end customers.

From the beginning SMEs have to learn the business and social framework of the host country. This also includes the environmental regulations. In fact, in many cases the SMEs implement the more advanced and environmental friendly behavior standards of their home country into their new venture. The use of water and energy and waste management rules are good examples in this context.

The entire process of internationalization of SMEs is based on close relationship and interaction with the local population, the companies and the authorities of the host country. This again leads to intensive personal connections and social and cultural understanding and a more sustainable development.

Attracting SMEs

As foreign direct investors, SMEs also benefit from the incentives offered by the authorities and marketing institutions of the host countries. However, most of the offered support programs concentrate on attracting MNCs rather than SMEs. These programs predominantly focus on company registration (one-stop-shop) and taxation. Although these aspects are also of importance for SMEs, it is more crucial for them to overcome other threads and obstacles in the process of internationalization.

These threads consist of lack of reliable and easily understandable information, cultural awareness, managerial know-how and the necessary network in the host country. Further, the most important question for SMEs in the new country is to understand how they can develop their business and remain successful over a long period of time? In other words, how to become economically sustainable in the new environment they operate in. Especially in the first two years SMEs need a lot of support when it comes to finding new projects and coping with the all the new social, cultural and business challenges. Often it is the sum of small issues that makes survival for SMEs very difficult in the new environment. Attracting SMEs as foreign direct investors means finding innovative and direct solutions for these issues, which usually occur after the establishment of the company in the host country.

IPAs and other FDI attracting organizations can use modern information and communication technologies, which offer diversified and effective options to supply transparent and updated information about the business framework and the economical potentials in their countries. Most of them have sophisticated websites and run expensive online and offline marketing campaigns. However, there is a huge discrepancy in the use and efficiency of new media between the developed and the developing world. In many cases the language barrier is not being considered. In other cases the information on the websites are not updated which leads to misunderstandings, delays and frustrations. Many questions are much easier answered through a phone call or easy accessible representative offices. Mostly family owned, SMEs have a traditional value structure which is based on personal relationships. Thus, they always prefer a direct and personal contact to clarify business related matters.
The role of the government in the host countries should not only be limited to definition and creation of a FDI friendly legal framework. Being de facto the largest participant in the local economy, governments can actively attract SMEs directly through economic promotion programs. A specific part of public projects can be assigned to SMEs. Some tenders for these projects can be pre-defined as joint venture projects between foreign and local SMEs, which will in turn promote international collaboration. Even projects for MNCs can be connected to participation of local or international SMEs as suppliers or subcontractors.
In many countries it is a matter of legal and even personal safety to comply with social rules and cultural habits of the host country. Many SMEs underestimate this aspect and often find themselves in a learn-by-doing process resulting in numerous issues in daily life. Therefore, generally any social program promoting cultural awareness is necessary and usually appreciated by the expatriate community. However, it is of great importance that these programs are communicated through effective channels so they can reach the different groups of expatriates in the host countries.

Conclusion

Multinational Corporations are still the most targeted foreign direct investors as their investments are large, they can raise the export activities of the host country, their names can be used to attract other investors and for many other reasons. Therefore, they should remain a crucial part of any FDI attraction strategy. However, they are no longer the only group active in the field of FDI. Driven by the forces of globalized economy Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises are increasingly participating in international transactions. They might not have the advantages of economy of scale but a sustainability assessment clearly proves their middle- und long-term benefits for the host countries. Hence, a holistic FDI strategy no longer can afford to avoid this group and their special needs in the process of internationalization. In order to attract SMEs as sustainable foreign direct investors, the host countries need also a sustainable incentive program with innovative measures and ideas matching with the special needs of SMEs. As in any other field, sustainability in FDI is also about giving and taking to achieve a win-win situation for all participants.

Tana 2014 – Africa’s peace and security and illicit financial flows

The 3rd Tana Forum to discuss the Impacts of Illicit Financial Flows on Peace and Security in Africa from April 26-27 , 2014, Bahir Dar, ETHIOPIA

The Third Tana High -Level Forum on Security in Africa will take place from April 26th – 27th 2014 in the historical city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

This year’s Forum will focus on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in and out of Africa and their impact on the continent’s security.

The impact of IFFs on Africa’s development is a priority issue for the African Union (AU) and its member states, as evidenced by the establishment of a High-Level Panel (HLP) of eminent persons headed by Former President Thabo Mbeki to address the issue. This year’s Tana Forum seeks to complement this initiative by focusing particularly on the peace and security dimensions.

In addition to this, the Forum will continue to serve as an opportunity for African leaders, policy makers and other stakeholders to learn from other countries’ experiences in understanding the impact, distinct characteristics and strategies for combating Illicit Financial Flows.

The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa is a platform for African leaders, key stakeholders, and pro-active strategists to collaboratively engage in exploring and exchanging ideas on African-led solutions to security challenges. The Forum’s mission is to further open and vigorous debate on the nature and causes of Africa’s pressing security threats and, over time, to cultivate a distinctively African voice on how to understand and meet the chief peace and security challenges facing Africa.

The Maiden Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, under the theme “Managing Diversity and State Fragility” took place from 14-15 April, 2012, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

The agenda of the second annual Forum, held in April 2013, focused on the problem of organized crime in Africa, and had paid tribute to the Forum’s greatest champion, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi.

The Forum is an independent initiative of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University and of eminent African personalities including the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Andrew Dosunmu – Elsewhere

Andrew Dosunmu’s first Solo exhibition  of his photography opens in New York City today. Hotel Particulier is pleased to present Andrew Dosunmu first Solo exhibition – a show of 10 photographs selected from over 10 years of photography, personal and commissioned work. Each large format photographs stand by itself, a bold tribute to the profound, intense and yet extremely stylish work. A dignified statement, homage to each truly individual and anonymous, and caught by Andrew Dosunmu with conscientiousness and momentum. Dare to catch me could be the rhythm of this poetical journey; real life and narrative where each character dare the photographer and us, the viewer to catch him or her before disappearance or escapism. With their masks, hood, sunglasses or mirror all real life accessories to twist the reality, and “play” the appearance, Andrew Dosunmu’s Heroes, like in his movies are beautiful in the light, and amazingly desirable.

Andrew Dosunmu currently lives and works in New York. Raised and educated in Nigeria, Dosunmu began his career as a design assistant at the fashion house of Yves Saint Laurent. He has subsequently worked as a creative director and fashion photographer whose images have appeared in a variety of international magazines. Besides a flourishing career in photography, Dosunmu is also active in film and television. His award-winning documentary Hot Irons (1999) showcases the artistry of some of Detroit’s finest African-American hairstylists as they prepare for the annual “Hair Wars” competition. In South Africa, Dosunmu has directed episodes of the widely acclaimed television series “Yizo, Yizo” which dramatizes the policy debates around education in post- apartheld South Africa through a frank presentation of the social crises and conflicts at a Johannesburg high school. Dosunmu has also served as creative director for album covers (for such artists as Erykah Badu and Public Enemy), and directed music videos, including his first for Issac Hayes in 1996 and others for Angie Stone, Common, Wyclef Jean, Kelis, Aaron Neville, Maxwell and Tracy Chapman. Dosunmu participated in the photography exhibition “Snap Judgements: New Positions in Contemporary Photography” at the International Center of Photography, curated by Okwui Enwezor, in 2006.

Sundance feature film lab fellows (screenwriting and directing labs). MOTHER OF GEORGE and awarded a 2006 Annenberg Fellowship and won the 2006 Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship, and was one of three USA finalists for the 2005 NHK/Sundance award.

ANDREW DOSUNMU : ELSEWHERE
10 years of photography
April 15 – May 6 2014

Curated by Béatrice Dupire.

Press Preview opening April 15 2014
from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Reception April 22 2014
from 6.30pm to 9pm
Rsvp > concierge@hotelparticulier.com

Hours: Tues – Sun 12 to 7pm
Hotel Particulier.
4 / 6 grand avenue – New York 10013
Between Varick & 6th avenue

Africa Broadband -‘YahClick’ expands its presence in Angola

Yahsat Expands Presence of its Satellite Broadband Internet Service “Yahclick” in Angola
LUANDA, Angola, August 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, Yahsat (http://www.yahsat.ae), the Abu Dhabi based satellite operator, has further strengthened the availability of its flagship service YahClick, an affordable, high-speed satellite broadband Internet service, in the Republic of Angola through a new partnership with Global Telesat, the country’s established satellite telecoms provider.
Experts in satellite communications within the Republic and the wider African market, Global Telesat will distribute YahClick across the country via two main distribution channels, namely Electrix to target home users and Multitel to targeting businesses.
Global Telesat will offer cost effective YahClick service plans to suit both home and business users in urban, rural and remote locations to boost their access to a high speed and reliable Internet connection.
Commenting on the appointment of Global Telesat, Shawkat Ahmed, Chief Commercial Officer, Yahsat stated: “We are happy to strengthen our presence in Angola through our partnership with Global Telesat. As one of our local partners for YahClick in Angola, Global Telesat will provide set-up and maintenance services for home users and businesses. Africa is a key market for us and with the help of experts in the market like Global Telesat, Yahsat is pleased to be making cost effective and reliable Internet connectivity even more accessible to users across Angola.”
“YahClick is a powerful tool, one which will improve the life of business and home users requiring high speed and reliable internet access. While satellite services have existed in Angola for many years, YahClick makes satellite internet affordable for the very first time, for a much wider segment of businesses and home users who previously couldn’t consider satellite due to its prohibitive costs,” added Ivan Pizarro, Chief Executive Officer of Global Telesat.
YahClick is designed to provide satellite broadband Internet to everyone and is set to open new business opportunities and connectivity to a wide range of industries, NGOs, government, educational organisations and home users throughout its coverage area by providing reliable, high-bandwidth Internet connectivity to urban, rural and even remote communities.
Global Telesat says it will offer the YahClick service and local support services to address the specific needs of business, government organisations and home subscribers. Users, including those in underserved and un-served areas, will now be able to instantly connect to the satellite broadband Internet via a small satellite dish and modem that can be pre-ordered through Global Telesat. The service is available in Angola with no further infrastructure requirements.
YahClick is beamed through Yahsat’s second satellite Y1B satellite, the first satellite in the region to offer Internet connectivity through Ka-band multi-spot beams, providing a greater level of overall efficiency and cost-effective broadband solutions.

Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

The literary novelist who chooses to put a love story between a boy and a girl at the heart of his or her novel risks accusations of succumbing to the lightweight, so for any import from other genres to escape this a story will have to work up several rungs of the reconstructive ladder. Adichie’s protagonist, Ifemelu, leaves her childhood sweetheart, Obinze, in Nigeria for studies in America. They keep in touch for a while but distance cruelly chips away at their bond as they grow older, form new relationships and develop different preoccupations. While Ifemelu pursues her first degree, a fellowship at Princeton and authors a successful blog chiefly about race, Obinze graduates university and travels to London to seek better fortunes.

Excerpts from Ifemelu’s blog feature in the novel and contain very pointed observations about race. They are spread sparingly in the text and it is a testament to Adichie’s brilliance as a storyteller that when they do show up, the reader is unplugged, often from an engrossing part of the narrative, rarely dissatisfied for these excerpts are frank, unflinching and very funny. Part One of the book neatly sums up the major concerns of the novel and finds Ifemelu going to a hair salon to get her hair braided in preparation for her trip to Nigeria where she has recently decided to resettle. She has given up her apartment, has effectively broken up with her African American boyfriend and is warily looking forward to reuniting with Obinze in Lagos, who is now a prosperous real estate owner, in a loveless marriage and has a daughter. The next 50 or so pages fills the reader in on Ifemelu’s and to an extent Obinze’s beginnings in Nigeria before returning to the present with Ifemelu still getting her hair braided. Majority of the novel’s structure proceeds in a similar fashion. While in London Obinze is reduced to the menial jobs afforded the illegal immigrant and his attempts to marry an Angolan to gain papers are thwarted when he’s arrested and deported. Adichie’s compulsive filialness to her main characters is not restricted to Ifemelu for Obinze’s suffering is tempered by his dignified upbringing. Emenike, a classmate from Nigeria who he never much cared for, now becomes his benefactor but never gains Obinze’s respect. He’s invited to dinner where he meets Emenike’s white-British wife and their liberal middle- class guests. Adichie’s great eye for nuance, on show all through the book, cleverly depicts how Emenike, who has embraced Britishness a little too wholeheartedly, tells Obinze about his rage when a black cab driver drove past him to pick up the white women ahead of him. When
he retells the story to his dinner guests, it’s a new version shorn of said rage and one of something approaching pity for the cabbie’s ignorance. Showing anger, justified at it may be, might invite empathy from his white guests but is likely to poison future conversations which for a man like him hell-bent on inclusion are unwelcomed.

Adichie’s decision to write about Obinze’s time in London broadens the geography, if not the thematic scope, of the novel allowing for a discourse on illegal immigration, sham marriages and attitudes on race in a different but not too dissimilar context. But it also shows up the author’s poor knowledge of the city. Generic names for places are passed off as details “it was a tube station” “in a pub” “at a shopping centre” “of a London building” “dimly lit restaurant”. When specifics do show up, “train station in Barking”, it is but a drizzle on a featureless
arid expanse. Nevertheless, Obinze’s decision to flee Nigeria, not out of strife, but choicelessness” is a damning indictment of the country for what future is there for it when even its well-bred and educated youth are stagnated? This, however, is almost scuppered by her strange decision not to prod the cloak of dishonesty under which Obinze acquires his wealth. But a later addition to the cast, Mekkus, is said to  have returned from America “very wealthy from what many said was a massive credit card fraud” and he doesn’t deny the rumours “as though to take the sting from the whispers that trailled him”. It’s as though Adichie just needed Obinze to be a rich, middle-class and melancholic man, by means unimportant, for lives and social circles such as his are richer seams for a narrative than, say, a poor or reprobate Obinze. Adichie’s brimming narrative gifts are sometimes let down by her propensity for overemphasis, so that deftly handled scenes and characterisations are then summed up, sometimes with a whole paragraph. This is also true on a sentence level for instance “she was severely crossed eyed, pupils darting in opposite directions” “a gathering frisson, a secret sense of excitement” “she had been tensed through and through, unable to relax”. In each of these sentences is an over- explanation, the second half employed to reinforce the first. Perhaps a present need not only be gift wrapped, but the content also labelled on the box in glitter.

Adichie has never shied from voicing Achebe’s influence on her writing and there is more than a whiff of the great man’s satirical flair from that most prescient of novels, A Man of the People, in
Americanah, especially in the party set-pieces, with every single one (there are no less than five) exceptionally well-drawn. Here, as in the blog excerpts, the author’s observations are tartiest. If they tilt towards caricature it is an understandable limitation, what with being walk on
parts where particular character traits are showcased. This imposed restriction positions Ifemelu and Obinze – and doubtless the author – as magistrates at a tribunal hearing and the arraigned characters in the docks, their foibles and misguided well intentions laid bare.

The caustic barbs at white liberals will cause a stir. Some will find it hard to believe they’ve been written about with such irreverence by a Nigerian woman who has been a beneficiary of their largesse (the handsome $500 000 Genius Grant for one). But there is little in the book that is false, whether it be about race in America or class in Nigeria. They’re suppressed everyday truths about which Adichie’s has written with such gusto. But to claim, as her publishers have done in the cover flap, that Americanah is her “most powerful and astonishing novel yet” is to actively delist that monument that is Half of a Yellow Sun, an indisputable testimony of writerly maturity, intelligence coupled with the heftiness of the Nigerian/Biafra war. She brings all these qualities to bear in Americanah, where though the stakes are lower, the results are no less admirable. About the Reviewer:

S. A Sabo’s stories have been published in Sable, Verdad, Gertrude Press, The Trumpet and Write Room. He is currently working on his first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street and his first novel Wailing for the Fields.
72 | The African Business Review
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s
Americanah
Review by S. A Sabo
CULTURE