News / Economy

Obama Africa Visit Could Boost Local Economy

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave prior to boarding Air Force One before departing for a week-long trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, June 26, 2013.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave prior to boarding Air Force One before departing for a week-long trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, June 26, 2013.
When a famous foreign leader or celebrity visits a factory, hotel or restaurant, the effect is usually great for business. U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to South Africa this weekend could have a similar impact on the local economy.

In 2006, then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama paid a visit to Petite Designs, a Soweto furniture company owned by Issy Penniken.

"It was a great privilege to have Senator Obama come and visit," Penniken said. "It opened my eyes. It got us to meet different people internationally and we got orders from them. We got a big job thereafter for a project in Saudi [Arabia]. The list just goes on and on."

Obama toured the factory for about an hour, wanting to learn how USAID had helped the business.

Penniken said he was inspired and encouraged by Obama on a personal level. At the same time, the visit opened doors and grew his business by around 25 percent, he said.

"A lot of the clients that want to do research on me, once they Google, and they see the article, it just gives them confidence to deal with me, and that's a nice reference for me," he said.

Obama's official South Africa schedule does not say where he will dine or if he will visit local businesses. But if he does, his presence could be perceived as a stamp of approval.

"The key thing there with the affinity is that it adds to that person's reputation, that business's reputation," said Andrea Crystal, a lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg. "Because it's almost like Obama is saying, 'You know, what you're doing is brilliant, I love what you're doing.'  And that's something very powerful to have behind you."

On a political level, Obama's visit to South Africa does a similar thing

"Having him on your soil is, I think, a visibility," said Crystal. "It's a very important move for the government, that here is one of the most powerful leaders in the world coming to little old South Africa at the bottom of the tip of Africa."

From a public relations and marketing standpoint, the visit is invaluable, Crystal says.

"The amount of money that that guy in Soweto would needed to have paid for the message that has been sent out there, he wouldn't have been able to afford that.  So what comes with the visit is the currency, it becomes a social currency.  It is I have this person of stature that has visited my factory, my shop and has shown interest in what I do."

Eduan Naude co-ownes Gramadoelas, a Johannesburg restaurant that has hosted former U.S. President Bill Clinton and movie stars such as Denzel Washington.  Naude feels the famous customers give his business a certain cache.

"I think people like to think they might rub shoulders with a celebrity if they come along here.  We've had a lot of movie stars and politicians and people here," he said. "I'm very happy when they come and I'm very proud to have hosted them. You know, even the Queen of England was hosted by us."

Naude wouldn't mind another presidential visit.

"I don't think the president's going to make it here, as far as I know nobody has said anything to the effect that he might pop in," Naude said. "But I'd be happy if he did, of course, yes."

If President Obama does visit, it will undoubtedly make for another celebrity photo on the wall.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.