Among the many challenges Africa faces is hype. Global advisers, consultants, investment bankers, asset managers and others with a vested interest in getting international capital to Africa, one way or another, sold us the "Africa rising" story. The strategy succeeded. Billions of dollars flowed in, Africa-specific investment funds mushroomed and international private equity giants rushed to secure lucrative assets on the continent. Valuations of blue-chip local companies jumped as funds competed for their attention. But the hype did not always live up to the reality. The pan-African assets fund managers sought were in short supply and local companies were not always eager to sell chunks of their companies. Local stock exchanges, despite high returns for a while, turned out to be mostly shallow and illiquid, making exits difficult. Some of the much-touted fastest-growing economies in the world turned out to have feet of clay, as the commodities downturn so harshly proved. The billio...

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