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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.