Africa Business Club: 1st Conference Report

Business in Africa – Opportunities and perspectives

On the 2nd of April the Africa Business Club had the great pleasure to hold its inaugural event and to gather the participants around the theme of the opportunities and perspectives of doing business in Africa. The ABC hosted remarkable guest-speakers for this occasion: Yves BROSENS and Serge NAWEJ, lawyers at DLA piper, Alassane B. NDIAYE, professor of transport, logistics and supply chain management at ULB and Christina M. HAWLEY, managing director for new countries at JUMIA. They provide the assembly with a thorough expertise on the current situation in Africa relative to the different sectors. The event ended with a walking dinner, which gave the participants the chance to meet with each other and discuss on their common interests.

Overview of the assembly

The Africa Business Club was proud to welcome various people from different companies and sectors. More than 150 interesting persons registered. The walking dinner was a great moment of exchange, as interesting and ambitious people such as managing directors, CEOs, senior consultants, Vice-Presidents, Owners and a wide variety of positions constituted the assembly. People working at Siemens, McKinsey, Bank of New-York, Accenture, EY, IBM and BNP Paribas Fortis were present.

Indeed, our participants got the chance to meet high skilled people coming from great companies from diverse sectors. People coming from consulting, IT, banking, manufacturing and retail constituted 50 % of the assembly. The Club also welcomed law firms, telecom companies, energy and resources companies and other types such as non-profit firms.

Introduction (Michel Cincera – Professor of Economics at Solvay Brussels School)

Africa, with its growing and young population (second largest population in the world), its increasingly significant middle classes (35% of the population in 2013) and the availability of technologies such as the mobile payment systems, encompasses promising and accessible consumption markets. However, there are still many issues to address such as tariff barriers, corruption, political instability, lack of a skilled workforce and infrastructure gaps.

Alassane Ndiaye (Professor of transport, logistics and supply chain at Solvay Brussels School)

In his presentation, Pr. Ndiaye pointed out that although many Sub-Saharan countries have made progress in improving their infrastructure over the last fifteen years, much has still to be done to decrease transport costs, to open up production for landlocked countries and to facilitate intra-African trade. Nonetheless, adequate infrastructures will not be sufficient without an appropriate regulatory framework, and an adaptive and high skilled labor force.

Yves Brosens & Serge Nawej (DLA Piper)

DLA Piper is a global law firm with more than 4000 lawyers in more than 30 countries in the entire world, helping companies doing business.

Yves and Serge told us about a wide variety of business opportunities in Africa. To give us a complete business outlook, they analysed the legal considerations and challenges that one may face while doing business in Africa. Which legal structure for your business? Is Mauritius a good location for your investments? Which authority should you trust? They provided answers to many questions one may face while entering the African market. No doubt you should have heard this!

Christina Hawley (Jumia)

Jumia is an American e-Business company employing 3000. It is the leader of the online retail market in Africa operating in Egypt, Angola, Tanzania, Cameroon, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

The digital market is currently offering a lot of business opportunities. Jumia is exploiting these opportunities in Africa. In this regard, Christina told us about the growing Internet users trend, the smartphone penetration and the growing population in Africa. She provided us with a wide analysis of the digital African market, its opportunities and its needs. Inspiring!