Business Abroad: Sailing with Africa's Wind

A few months ago, Sir Roy Welensky, the Central African Federation's Prime Minister, looked with considerable gloom at a crucial aspect of the African economy. "Let's face it," he said, "as an investment, Africa stinks." Reporting to his stockholders recently, a sober London businessman who presides over the biggest foreign enterprise in Africa took a more optimistic tack. "The African outlook," said Unilever Chairman George J. Cole, "is less dark than one might think.''

Cole's cautious optimism was a prime example of British understatement. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, the United Africa Co., giant Unilever has staked $373 million—nearly one-quarter...

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