In Episode #3, we discuss East Africa with John Brittell, Managing Partner of Amani Partners. We cover:

  • East Africa as an economic unit that represents Africa’s fourth strongest GDP behind Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt.
  • The key industries and sectors to consider when doing business in East Africa.
  • Cultural differences to keep in mind when doing business in East Africa.
  • East Africa’s main trading partners, including China’s increasing presence and the Chinese community’s response to COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • An insider’s viewpoint on doing business with typical domestic companies in East Africa.
  • The local regulatory environment and how it impacts business.
  • Resources for foreign companies that want to establish a presence in East Africa.
  • Recommendations:

If you have comments on this episode or if you’d like to suggest topics for future episodes, please email globallawbiz [at] harrisbricken [dot] com.

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This podcast was transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort 0:08
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other and other developing and developed nations wax and wane in their importance in the global stage. While consumption and interconnectedness both increase, laws and regulations change incessantly, requiring businesses to stay nimble. How do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global lawn business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort.

Jonathan Bench 0:34
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every Thursday, we take a bite sized look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of our international guests. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finances, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.

Fred Rocafort 0:59
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast, please connect with us via email on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.

Jonathan Bench 1:15
In my reading and discussions with Africa, experts and business owners, one thing has been driven home to me more than any other. This will be Africa century. Africa is a continent with 54 countries and a population of 1.2 billion that is projected to reach one third of the entire world population by the end of this century. And the median age in Africa is 19.7 years compared to 38.2 in the US, 38.4 in China, and 42.6 in the EU. Africans throughout the continent, but particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, see themselves as young, educated, motivated and capable. East Africa is home to the East African Community, and intergovernmental organization comprised of six countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Together these countries are ranked the fourth strongest GDP in Africa behind Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Their proximity to the Middle East and Asia mean that these largely coastal East African nations are poised to continue to lead Africa’s economic development in the coming decades. Today we are joined by our guest John Brittell the managing partner of money partners, a boutique corporate advisory firm offering bespoke professional services to family firms, corporates and high net worth individuals. JOHN oversees all client and investor relationships and is the principal on all transactions for the Uganda market. In his current role he has well networked within the region, especially amongst the diplomatic community, foreign multinational corporations, local corporations, family owned businesses and local government. Prior to Amani partners, John worked with opik now the development Finance Corporation and with USAID development credit authority. John, thank you for being with us today.

John Brittell 2:56
Jonathan. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Fred Rocafort 2:59
John, Welcome to The show, why don’t we kick things off by having you tell us about yourself? Your work? And how is it that you ended up in Uganda, please?

John Brittell 3:09
Absolutely. I’m originally from San Francisco, California, studied at UC Davis economics and statistics that was in 99. And started a career actually fundraising and NGOs and then took a bit of a turn and transitioned to Washington, DC, and started fundraising for a large US government broadcasting media company. And during that time in DC, I was exposed to so many international embassies and communities ended up volunteering for some NGOs that were working in Africa. So that was around 2003. I was really interested in fundraising for them. I did so and then eventually in 2005, came to Uganda, in East Africa, to do some more work for the same NGO. We were We were fundraising For. So I returned to DC in 2010. And did my master’s, my MBA at GW, George Washington University, School of Business and also did a duel with the Elliot School of International Affairs where I did a degree in international policy economic policy. And that’s actually where where I met Jonathan, full disclosure. And it was around that time finishing that degree those degrees where coming back, I wanted to reenter in the private sector, and knew right away that there was a huge gap in professional advisory services, services around capital raising company valuation, all the technical side of finance when it comes to dealing with capital in the local market, and so that our thesis starting and coming into this space was opening up a firm that could actually deliver those services at a professional level to clients on the ground and establish Uh, of course, we learned very quickly and this is probably a further on into the discussion we can get into that, you know, professional services aren’t are valued in a different way. And getting folks to pay for that was was really it’s really a challenge. So I think that’s something that we can talk about further. But in essence, that information asymmetry and the thesis of coming here to do professional, provide professional services, is still very valid, and looking forward to seeing how we can talk about it more. So that’s how I got here to East Africa.

Jonathan Bench 5:30
So John, in the context of business, East Africa is somewhat of an economic unit. Can you talk a little bit about why that is?

John Brittell 5:39
Absolutely. I think it’s important to understand the geographic dimensions of East Africa under the EAC which is the regional bloc, very similar to COMESA, which is the southern and eastern African bloc. Then you have SADC which is the South African bloc and ECOWAS in the in the West of Africa. For East Africa, we defined a little bit differently. We don’t define it the way that EAC does. We said, we suggest that Eastern Africa is actually all the way from Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, on the far north, all the way down to Tanzania in the south, to the west of Kenya and Somalia, and then to I’m sorry, that’s to the east. And then to the west, you have Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, I would say also the eastern DRC, because of a lot of the trade flows and the traffic and the capital flows, you see that moving between Uganda and Kenya. And so that could arguably be included. And we define it in that way as well. But But you’re right, the EAC does cover the main six countries, but I believe if you but the EAC also doesn’t cover Ethiopia, which is a huge market. So we define it a little bit differently geographically, I think, from what to understand East Africa, it’s it’s best to To take a look at the entire continent, and then you kind of compare. So if you look at the whole continent, when we say Sub Saharan Africa is the whole continent, we discount the northern African states. But in Sub Saharan Africa, you’re looking at about a $1.7 trillion market, global economy. It’s a mere 2% of total GDP of global GDP. So it’s a very small output. And of course, that’s also a function of what’s formally calculating, we know that a large majority of businesses are informal in the African markets, Sub Saharan Africa. So you could argue that’s probably three or four times higher, if you would account everything. But overall, there’s been double digit growth in the first decade of the 21st century, and then it dropped down to just under double digits in the second half. We’re close to two to 3%. Now in the second decade, inflation is still high, it’s close to 10% in this region, and of course, Across the board, all currencies in all countries have been depreciated against dollar for the last 20 years. So that’s something to kind of keep in mind as we talk about doing business here in East Africa, or in Africa. For East Africa. In particular, when we look at it as a block that I had mentioned, it’s approximately around 370 5 million people, all of Africa is about 1.2. You’re looking at GDP in just our region of about 330 300 and 40 million, I’m sorry, 300, and $40 billion. So it’s a fairly small market. But it captures around 20% of the total GDP of the entire continent. Growth is somewhere closer to 6% versus 3% for the rest of the continent, so it’s a much faster growing region economically than the other in other places. So it’s important to keep in mind. The other thing to keep in mind, for East Africa are the economic term. I think there’s four that are really important for East Africa, you’ve got the demographic dividend, which, of course, in all of the world, this is the only place where the dependency ratio is actually decreasing, you’re gonna have you having much more people entering the workforce. And of course, that’s a function of the middle class, and people making more than $11 a day. And that’s the fastest growing segment, I think, of people in Africa, other than those that are making less than $1 25 a day. So the middle class is growing. Obviously, there’s a new policy, which is cafta, which is the Continental free trade agreement, which is trying to link all African markets under one free trade zone. We also have the human capital components. So these four trends, the demographic dividend, the middle class, the cafta, policy, the inter continental trade agreement, and also human capital, kind of the biggest issues that I think are facing the region, just because Human Capital is so well needed in this area. There’s a lot of labor that’s here, but it needs to be trained. So there’s an opportunity there.

Fred Rocafort 10:10
John, from the point of view of foreign businesses that might be looking with interest at East Africa, what would be the key industries and sectors where opportunities might be present for these businesses?

John Brittell 10:27
That’s a good question. The national governments put forward national plans every year, and they target and they set specific industry in Sector targets for each of their plans, which is kind of an in a forward looking indicator for investors coming in saying this is where our priorities are. If you look at those national plans, and just take what’s cross cutting across each of the nations, each of the countries here, what’s cross cutting are things like manufacturing and that’s everything from textiles to You know pharmaceuticals. You’ve also have the ICT and innovation industry, which has big hospitality and tourism, real estate and construction, and then energy, which is production in particular. That’s what’s cutting across all the national plans, which is pretty straightforward. When you look at it from a local perspective, if you look at what we’re looking at, we’re trying to find companies to invest in, we’re trying to find good opportunities for other investors who are looking to place capital in the market. We’re seeing things a little bit differently. We see the industries and sectors such as infrastructure, and that could include water in particular bridges, transport in particular, which people aren’t looking at, and that’s not including roads, energy distribution, and of course, energy transmission. These are places where capital typically is needed in the local market, and we’d like to see going there. I would also add to that financial service versus mining obviously is still key telecommunications is a good earner in this market due to multiples. Education. Clearly, as I was mentioning earlier with the human capital, healthcare is a big play, and then renewables when you’re talking about geothermal, or even solar. So these areas, I think, are really exciting in places where capital would would would really flow well, and then hit a lot of the social impact metrics that governments are trying to reach with their national plans, in addition to what they’re putting forward.

Jonathan Bench 12:35
John, when we’re talking about doing business with Africa, I think a lot of us from the outside tend to want to simplify it so we can understand because Africa is so big and so culturally diverse. Can you talk a little bit about the cultural differences to keep in mind as companies are looking at Africa in general in East Africa in particular?

John Brittell 12:55
it’s about understanding understand that, you know, doing business in in Sub Saharan Africa is very different than doing business in the West, whether it’s Europe, or the United States, there are longer standing ties and legacy ties with Europe, as opposed to the States. And a lot of the links to East Africa, in particular to this to say the United States are very weak. And that’s typically just because of the trade flows and who the typical partners are in the region, which we can get into get into later. But in doing business here, it’s really important for businesses who are entering the market to understand that you can look at the entry, which is a lot of the way that American firms are looking at this, the entry can be looked at as East Africa as a market where you’re trying to offload your product, which is one way to look at it. And the other way to look at it is if you want to make an actual investment here, and so a lot of American corporates and a lot of other corporates from the west look at this as a market not as an investment. That’s something that’s really important to consider and think about, in addition to the market versus investment conversation, it’s also important to understand that, you know, in getting new business and doing business here, there needs to be a conversation on what commissions means versus what bribes mean. And so oftentimes doing business here means that there are those types of payments that are made which go against most, either fatca, or I’m sorry, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or UK Bribery Act. In terms of how, how West, the West does business versus how African states do business and even how other countries do business, say, China or India or India. So that’s really important to make a distinction on and to understand, for us businesses entering this market, just to name a few other cultural differences. I think you’ve got a different form of decision making much slower, much more process oriented. Relationships are really key here, going much farther and doing business in person, obviously, as opposed to say online, even though we may have a new world after the COVID virus. But that’s the reality here on the ground and might shift but historically, doing business here is about meeting face to face. with clients not doing it over the phone or not doing it on video or via email. It’s important to understand that most firms have more than one set of books. I think it’s very common in this market. There’s typically no CFOs, you know, associated with these firms. You’ve got a lot of family owned businesses that are on the market. There’s a huge Indian influence that plays to the to the firms here. There is a low level of talent in general and you typically need to import your talent if you’re looking at management in most of the forms of doing business quite informal. And so even though there’s a lot of formality and regulation that you’d follow, say in the States, and more regulated markets, that regulation is quite lacks in this market, even though there are shifts, obviously, towards a more regulated market. And that being said, amongst all that, I think the bigger one, maybe less so cultural and maybe possibly cultural is that there are a significant number of brokers and intermediaries, middlemen in this trading market. And so there’s that excess competition that exists in the region. These are some of the areas that are that make East Africa rather unique and also important to understand from a cultural difference.

Fred Rocafort 16:42
Thanks, John, that that last point is really interesting. At the moment, our firm is working with many clients who are desperately trying to import protection equipment and other goods related to the fight against Coronavirus And we see that cultural difference, let’s say between the image your typical American company who would rather be dealing with the manufacturer directly. And then on the other side of the equation you have in China, also a very strong culture of intermediaries and middlemen. And, in fact, it appears that the government in China prefers for that to be to be the case. So yeah, it’s interesting to see how that plays out. But getting back to East Africa, um, could you please tell us what are the main trading partners of the region?

John Brittell 17:42
As I was saying earlier, a lot of the trade connections with the West say the United States are much weaker. there’s a there’s a stronger connection obviously with the EU just because of the historic ties in then the trade partners that typically work on this side of the continent are typically the Indians, clearly the Chinese within the last 20 years or so. And then and also more recently with the Middle East in UAE and Dubai, or other trading partners, but the in terms of volume and the book, most trade actually happens into regionally meaning within the continent. And so it may seem like a little surprise, but when you look at the volumes, most trade does actually happen between South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, it’s all inter in Ethiopia, and it’s all inter regional trade, and then some over into comesa, which is a Southern African market. So it’s really interesting to see how that shifts, sort of policy on this side. And also speaks to the strength of how policy is moving from a local sourcing or a local conversation, which is really important, I think for outside firms to keep in mind as they enter So in addition to to the Chinese in India, South Africa is a huge, huge market for, for the East Africa. I mean, you have a lot of South African firms that are in this area. And I think if you look at it from the perspective of understanding how to do business here, and from a trade perspective, it’s important to understand again, the currencies, I want to bring that up again, just because it’s all currencies appreciating. And understanding local market is really varying from country to country. And then distribution is a big piece of this. And understanding that if you are going to be doing business here and whatever, whoever whichever partner decides the business here, how you distribute move that product in this market really is important and you see a lot of homegrown solutions to this. But rarely do you see larger distributors from the outside, coming in and figuring out the market and being able to distribute in the same way that the local homegrown solutions are. And oftentimes, it’s important to work into the models because firms actually have to build that out on their own. And using a third party doesn’t always offer them what they’re looking for.

Jonathan Bench 20:17
John you know that Fred and I are China watchers, and we’ve been dealing with China for decades now. And we love getting perspectives from the outside on, on Chinese activities. Can you comment for a minute about what you’re seeing? And what’s the what’s the reception in Uganda and East Africa to the Chinese influence that have been around for the last couple decades, as you said since China joined the WTO?

John Brittell 20:41
Yeah, China is a significant player here in East Africa. They are a part of the infrastructure development here. They are a part of the concessional loans that are coming through. They’re a part of the labor force now with their employees and in person Now coming to work on these projects with them when the money comes. And they’re even part of the social fabric. So you see, in the recent COVID case, when a lot of companies were putting forward their corporate social responsibility, I would say 20 to 25% of the total came from Chinese firms. So there’s significant players in this market, and they’re looking at themselves, as you know, part of the community, part of this environment. We also have Chinese clients. And we’ve known that with these guys, they’re interested in being here for the long term. So you see them working in markets and being a part of East Africa. Maybe in more form of an investment, as opposed to looking at it purely as a market. And I think that’s important to understand. So maybe the first one One, two, even three years of entering the market, they’re okay with losses. Whereas if you look at a Western firm, they’d probably, you know, shriek at the sound of that they probably say, Well, what would be the point? We’ve also seen other avenues where you see folks that are making plenty of money here from a local perspective. But from a multinational perspective, it’s just not enough. So you have differing differing views on that, but China as a whole, when you look at it, they are here and there are some things to keep, you know, to keep an eye on. There have been a number of unsavory funds that have come onto the market, offering capital but which has been fraudulent. There are a lot of fraudulent activity. From a trade perspective. There’s a lot of trade that happens between China in in, in East Africa. And if you look at a lot of the building and construction and the way people are building homes here, many many, many families actually traveled to China pick their construction material, put it in a container and ship it right back. And it’s it’s a very popular thing to do. And a lot of families do it here. And it’s cheap, of course. So there’s there are really strong ties here. And obviously, that’s on the on the business side on the political side. The chambers are here fully set up, the Confucius institutes are set up. And they’ve got hotels and full communities of Chinese in these markets. So they’re very much a part of East Africa at this point.

Jonathan Bench 23:34
Fascinating. Thank you for looking at East Africa from a micro economic view. Can you talk about some specific qualities that define companies and firms in East Africa?

John Brittell 23:47
Yeah, this is really interesting. When you compare what firms are like in other markets outside of Africa and you compare them to each other Africa, in particular, and I’ll speak to the East African experience since that’s where we are, you know, one of the the most important things for most firms is governance. And making sure that governance is, is one instituted from a board from a shareholder to a board to a management perspective and operator. And oftentimes, what you see in these markets are that those are typically intertwined until literally one individual. And so you don’t have that arm’s length that that may be most of the Western world is used to operating under. And that’s the same case when you think about it. When using contracts as well. Contract enforcement is very weak, it’s strengthening but it is very weak. And so oftentimes, contracts will be stipulated or moved from governing law to either England, London and Wales, England and Wales or even the arbitration rules will be offshore as well. So you also pick England and Wales Or you’ll pick, say Mauritius for East Africa’s common in. And that’s really important to understand, I think, which a lot of firms may overlook in understanding what what a local firm will look like most firms in East Africa, I would say are over levered. I think this has has to do with the fact that you don’t have proper CFOs in place. And you basically are taking out a whole lot of debt and putting it into the company to work. And this is what commercial banks have been feeding off of. And this is why that market is so strong, and they’re making money, which is also why you’re not seeing the growth that you’d want to see from a firm perspective. Because the high cost of capital and because of the over leverage, which is really important to understand, which also leads in the fact there’s a large misunderstanding of what equity means, and working with equity. In this in this part of the world when it comes to firms. In general you do have low margins, but you but you do You can see higher margins in certain industries healthcare being one example, labor cost is low, typically, but high quality labor is expensive here.

Pricing obviously is really sensitive people are, there is some research around pricing. being sensitive as it relates to brand, I think I would argue a little bit differently. I would say, pricing usually drives most behavior of most of the East Africans. Apart from brand. I don’t see much brand loyalty, even though I’ve seen some folks writing about brand loyalty in East Africans and Africans in general. But I don’t see that on the ground. I think for American corporates, in particular, when we think about it this way, they typically partner with local entities versus establishing their own offices locally. You’ve seen a little bit of a shift towards South Africa in Johannesburg and also in Nairobi, you seen a little bit of shift from multinationals setting up office there. But for the most part, they tend to send in folks and partner as opposed to setting up office fully. So that typically is the view of how they work.

So that gives you a little bit of an overview of what what firms look like here on the ground.

Fred Rocafort 27:22
John, a little bit earlier, you you talked a little bit about the business environment in East Asia and some of the cultural differences that foreign businesses have to have to be on the lookout for, I was wondering if you could drill down a little bit into what the local regulatory environment looks like. And perhaps if you can, do that by by presenting a specific firm’s experience or perhaps what what what that experience looks like for for industry for companies in a particular industry or sector.

John Brittell 28:00
Absolutely, I believe that for the most part, we’re seeing improvements in the regulatory environment. And although most jurisdictions across the region are still in favor of government and the employee, you don’t see much private sector favor in these, this part of the world. And so whether we’re talking about taxes, we’re talking about processes, the bureaucracy, working with the private sector, policies that would help support the private sector. Those are still being refined. So they’re, they’re not as strong as they could be. But even though there are Investment Promotion, entities within the governments that that are that are trying to get out the word that that each jurisdiction is a good place to put their money into. There is still a lot of red tape that you have to go through which is important to understand. Even the World Bank, do business. This reports will show that you know, starting a business Yes, you know, you can you can start a business in three days and get it fully registered electronically here in in Uganda as an example. But the ensuing things that you need to do to get that business going actually are much more cumbersome and time consuming. In addition to additional licensing, the labor getting offices started all that takes much longer and getting contracts in place, it all takes much longer. But from from the peer regulatory aspect, there are some improvements and and a lot of it is going online electronic and they’re making really big improvements in terms of getting businesses up and going quicker and more efficiently. I think if we want to look at this maybe from a case study perspective, you know, I work with clients across different industries. You know, one of those industries we work in is helpful care. And as it relates to this local regulatory environment, this healthcare investment that we were working on was a bridge between a foreign company and to local shareholders. And the local shareholders role was purely to provide the real estate and the local lazing with government. While the foreign partners role was purely to manage and operate the healthcare facility, and what we found was is when they came on board, and they were building their facility, by the time it was ready to go to market and open up its doors. The licensing hadn’t yet been approved and that we had already been waiting for close to 14 months. So there was an additional time period that we had to wait which was an additional 12 months. So a total of 26 months waiting for this company to get started and open its doors now if you look at it from planning perspective, they ended up using debt to build their facility, which was a bad idea because of this, and then as a result of that they didn’t have any extra cash for working capital, which they had to extend past the 12 months. And so what might be considered a very simple licensing issue turned into a very significant operational issue, because there’s actually very little working capital for this company to survive in the hospital sector and the healthcare sector, and you have insurance that’s involved, you’re going to have a lot of creditors, I’m sorry, you’re going to have a lot of debtors that are waiting to pay you in those debtors could take anywhere from six months to 12 months to pay so that cash isn’t there and you need to you need to fill that. So it’s important to understand the same as the case if you would look at a trade as well. So I’m focusing on the healthcare sector, but that’s one example that we are working on.

Jonathan Bench 31:55

As we’re trying to help companies establish presence in East Africa, and T With the with the regulatory hurdles, what resources can these businesses look to when they want to enter the East African market?

John Brittell 32:10
That’s a great question. And this is one of the reasons why we set up shop, we felt there was so much information asymmetry that you needed people that could be trustworthy, that could look at the market intelligently and be able to respond with a fair, fairly unbiased view. Now, having said that, everyone’s view obviously is biased.

But there are some other resources that are out there.

If you want to look locally, there are investment authorities in each jurisdiction, which have their own view. And typically it’s it’s government oriented, in terms of public sector oriented in that view, but those are the priorities that they’re pushing. There are another way to look at this are other investment funds because investment funds are already on the ground in the market, making investments they know exactly which sectors and industry. They’re looking It’s a great place to have a conversation. I places obviously are folks like us advisors who are on the ground. We feel there are only a few outfits out there that are reliable. But they’re also good sources of information. Likewise, management consulting firms in the same in the same breath. The other place is for us in particular, as the US Commercial Service, which is run out of the embassies. In the US Commercial Service is a great resource. They have what’s called a gold key plan, which gives you an overview of what’s happening in the market. So it’s a great initial resource to sort of jump in and say what’s happening in this particular jurisdiction, and each country has one where the embassy is or the consular is, in addition to that they work closely with the local American chambers of commerce in each jurisdiction. So Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, each has its own American Chamber of Commerce. I used to sit on the board have one. They’re quite resourceful in knowing who’s on the ground and also maneuvering the local environment to get good contacts and resources for. And of course, last but not least, you know the big DFI is the World Bank’s IFC, DFC, which is OPIC USA, merging ADB, the African Development Bank, the East African Community, even trademark East Africa. All these are great sources from a policy perspective and from a development perspective. And IFC is great if you’re looking at it from a private sector lens where capital is flowing, as well as DFC. Those are two great institutions. So those are some of the areas people can look they want more information.

Fred Rocafort 34:48
John this has been a fascinating conversation. As we come to the end of the show, we’d like to ask you, what do you have been reading recently, the most be of interest to our listeners. As much as we’d like for the show itself to be a learning tool, we hope that we can offer even more resources for folks who are tuning in to to learn about different parts of the world. So on that note, Oh, do you have any recommendations for our listeners?

John Brittell 35:21
Well, this is great. That’s a great way to end the show.

Yeah, I’ve been, I’ve all share a few things that I’ve read historically, then kind of show what I’m reading now. I’ve read a lot by Martin Meredith. He’s a South African journalist. Born I believe, of Zimbabwe. And he wrote a book, which was originally titled The Fate of Africa, and later was renamed to the State of Africa. And it gives a great history, from independence, post independence all up to now, which is a great view of what’s happening historically. I’ve also been been reading a lot I always read work that’s put out. Research has been put out by the Brenthurst Foundation. They’re based in South Africa again. And they do really great research and are very African continent specific. They wrote a fantastic compilation of essays, which was called Africa Beyond Aid. I looked on the website to see if the book was available, but I don’t see it there. So it’s actually if you can find it, it’s out there. It’s a collection of essays. And I read it back in 2009, when it came out. In it’s fantastic view in terms of the shift in rhetoric, from aid, basically foreign aid is a context of free aid in the context and then moving that to the private sector, right from from public to private and how the private sector can get get more engaged from a development perspective. And then of late, I’ve been reading more about management in particular. I love anything by Gary Hamel I believe he’s up at the London School of Economics. Or it might be at the London School of Business, one of the two. And he wrote a fantastic book called The Future of Management where he talks about and he correlates, basically the way Silicon Valley’s working in the tech industry, and how management needs to adapt and how we’re still working with these 19th century models and modes of management. And we need to kind of evolve that to a 21st century form of, of management. So those are really exciting. I think an interesting as it relates to Africa as well.

Fred Rocafort 37:37
Thank you. Jonathan, What about you anything you’d like to share?

Jonathan Bench 37:41
Every couple of years, I like to go back and re listen to the Count of Monte Cristo. This is a, it’s a fun book for me, right? But it’s also a very kind of deep emotional book. It’s really my favorite book of all time, and that’s no surprise since I was a literature major in college, but the the things that have been daunting goes through right where he has everything he thinks he needs. And then he gets essentially captured, passed into a prison and has to spend years there, rebuilding him himself and his life. And then he gets out and he has to decide how he’s going to live his life. And of course, he goes for vengeance first. And he ends up realizing that vengeance is not the right way to to be, you know, to live a human life. And so it’s, it’s a good reminder to me every year it’s fun. It’s long, but it’s so well written and makes me wish I would learn French but it helps me work on my French accented English.

Fred Rocafort 38:39
Well for me, I’m currently reading one of the books by one of my favorite authors, Paul Theroux. He’s a well known travel writer, and I’m reading Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. This book is really about his experiences reliving some of the travels, he had made when he wrote a book many, many years ago. And one of the reasons why, why I picked it up is because there’s a lot of the action takes takes place in Southeast Asia. And we’re going to be talking about Southeast Asia pretty soon. And I know that that’s a part of the world that that interests us. Well, John, so. So that’s my recommendation, as well as pretty much anything that Theroux has written. So we’ll be sure to include links on our blog to as many of these publications as possible so that our listeners can take a look if they’re interested. On that note, thank you so much for being on our podcast.

John Brittell 39:42
Fred and Jonathan. I really appreciate it and I look forward to more conversations.

Jonathan Bench 39:48
We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. We look forward to connecting with you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you want to find us until next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai