Navigating Africa’s choppy business waters
“Acquiring an in-depth understanding of the policy landscapes of African countries is an exceedingly difficult task for multinational companies. And understandably so.” Peter Draper is director at Tutwa Consulting, a Pretoria-based consultancy firm that employs himself and German Professor of Economics Dr Andreas Freytag. The firm helps executives anticipate and influence policy changes in emerging markets, and adapt their long-term strategy accordingly.
Drawn from children’s book ‘when Hippo was hairy’, the name ‘Tutwa’ carries two meanings: giraffe and Southern Cross. Giraffe, with its head in the clouds, watches over the horizon; the Southern Cross helped seafarers navigate the ancient seas at night. Tutwa Consulting offers highly informed analyses of countries’ policy horizons, navigating its clients across Africa’s choppy business waters. Peter: “Particularly in Africa, where most markets are emerging, the institutional environment has not yet been greatly developed. We sometimes speak of ‘institutional voids’: institutions are non-existent, outdated, or, like in the case of South Africa, are constantly changed. It is in this context that we help clients understand why governments do what they do.”
Making informed strategic choices
“When I founded Tutwa Consulting”, Peter says, “I had witnessed African multinational corporations’ executives at a loss with the regulatory environments in the countries they were operating in. Executives struggle to understand and keep up-to-date with policies resulting from governments’ positions on trade and investment. For example, where on the spectrum between free trade and government protection is a country? What regulations are likely to flow from a government’s view on trade and investment? And how, as a trading company, will those regulations affect my business in the long term? If one does not deeply understand the decision-making processes that regulate trade and investment it is nearly impossible to make informed strategic business choices.”
Flowing from its core expertise in trade and investment policy on the one hand, and its understanding of the regulations that result from policy on the other hand, Tutwa Consulting helps clients come to terms with knowledge gaps. Tutwa offers bespoke research – and analysis of research conducted, so as to elaborate clients’ strategic options. The company’s public affairs toolbox also influences government policy making on behalf of its clients. For example, Peter wrote an opinion piece that promoted public debate in favour of a specific client group.
Private Security Bill
“In South Africa”, Peter explains, “a new piece of legislation called the Private Security Bill has been initiated by the Ministry of Police. It was approved by parliament, and awaits president Zuma’s signature. One particular clause of the bill is considered highly problematic by a number of my clients as it would legalise, when in effect, expropriation of foreign private security companies that operate in South Africa. On behalf of my client and other stakeholders I moderated and spoke at two press conferences, and wrote an opinion piece that drove public debate in a direction favouring their viewpoint. The efforts have helped garner potential allies on the matter. Whether or not our president signs the bill, a lot was done to demand modification of the clause in question. Tutwa Consulting added a thorough understanding of the powers that dictate South Africa’s policy landscape, and consequently influenced public debate.”