Ambassador Harold E Doley jr says Africa is about to see its greatest growth yet, through an infusion of capital. Picture: Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies Youtube.
Ambassador Harold E Doley jr was 26 when he bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first African-American individual to do so.

His success did not come overnight - Doley jr was 13 when he set his sights on investments and trading. The Doley family lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and went to New York for a holiday, this was where the seed to his future lay.

“We went to Wall Street, that was the summer of 1960 when JFK was running for president of the US against Richard Nixon.”

Doley jr says on that day he remembered that Kennedy’s dad and his father-in-law were members of the New York Stock Exchange.

“I realised that it was in Wall Street where money and power came together.”

He worked through high school and college, invested and used loan money from a New Orleans black bank to buy his own seat.

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Ambassador Doley jr founded investment bank Doley Securities, LLC in 1975. Over the decades, the company serviced banks, insurance companies, corporate and public entities, and university portfolios totalling tens of billions of dollars.

He was an NYSE floor broker, investment banker, founding member of the US-Africa Chamber of Commerce, and chairperson of the investment committee of the private equity Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund. He has advised African stock exchanges and the bodies that regulate them.

Doley jr was accorded ambassadorial rank when he served as the US Representative to the African Development Bank and Fund (AfDB) between 1983 (when the US became a stockholder in the bank) and 1985. The AfDB is a development finance institution owned by 50 African and 25 non-African countries.

He remains keenly in tune with Africa and says it's a continent of opportunities. He has invested in a range of sectors, saying in that way there is a greater impact on economic development.

“It's attracting investment from all over the world. It's recognised that Africa’s wealth is not only in natural resources, like precious metals. But Africa’s greatest natural resource is its people.”

Ambassador Doley jr says the continent is about to see its greatest growth yet, through an infusion of capital. He predicts that investment in the stock and bond markets, and in companies listed on stock exchanges.

With almost a billion people on the continent there is a need for food and fresh water. He says agriculture presents tremendous opportunities.

“Africa has the largest arable land available, just waiting to be farmed," he said.

While he is excited about the economic development agriculture will bring, he points out how technology has shaped the continent and forecasts it will revolutionise how Africans do business.

“The cellphone was a revolution throughout the world. Not everyone had land lines in their home. Because of technology and satellites, infrastructure was not needed to connect. This was when Africa leapfrogged technology, and it will be repeated many times over. Africa will continue to be the beneficiary of the latest technology,” he says.

 - BUSINESS REPORT