Insider information on one of the most expensive business projects in world history, a live connection to South Africa, insights into the geostrategic power games for the African continent, an exciting panel discussion with experienced Africa experts and the possibility of being actively involved in a role play or simulation game: the first Africa Business Day at Munich Business School offered a multitude of interesting events to the participants. The idea of focusing on only one topic during a whole day of teaching at the university was thus successfully put into practice.
It quickly became clear after Prof. Dr. Arnd Albrecht’s (lecturer for International Management at MBS) welcome address: Europeans do not know much about the African economy. It was therefore particularly fitting that Dr. Benedikt Franke provided the introduction into the Africa Business Day at Munich Business School, since his knowledge about the economic situation and the geopolitical relationships around Africa are probably unsurpassed in Germany. As an employee of the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he was able to gain deep insights into Africa-related topics, and he continues to be involved in the annual publishing of the Africa Progress Report (further information on the Africa Progress Report can be found here), a detailed overview of the economic development in the 54 countries of the African continent. Apart from Kofi Annan, the former IMF director Michel Camdessus, the former US treasury secretary Robert Rubin and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus contribute to the report, for example.
This is Dr. Benedikt Franke’s core thesis in one sentence: The development in Africa poses some risks for German companies and the German economy as a whole, but it also offers great opportunities, which at the moment are not made use of because there is no German strategy with regard to the continent. China is one step ahead of Germany with its result-oriented Africa strategy, but also countries such as Brazil or Mexico.
Dr. Franke’s statements were confirmed from an African point of view by Roland Nwancha, Managing Director of the Transformanz consulting firm. Nwancha mainly talked about the financing structures within the African economy, but also pointed out opportunities for German companies and entrepreneurs in various African countries and regions. According to him, the sectors of infrastructure, agriculture or education could offer good business possibilities if approached correctly.
Africa Business Consultant Marc-Peter Zander worked together with the participants of a workshop which dealt with the cornerstones for a market entry strategy to find out how this should be done in detail. At the same time, Dr. Christian Schmidkonz organized a role play on the Chinese strategy on the African continent.
After the lunch break, the participants were able to take part in the video web conference with the University of South Africa, in which Professor Darrell Myrick presented the concept of a manager training via Open Distance Learning. This event was organized by Prof. Dr. Albrecht. At the same time, DII representatives Jutta Kleymann and Franca Diechtl gave a presentation with background information on the current status and the challenges of the Desertec project, which, with its planned investment volume of €400 billion, belongs to the largest business projects in human history.
The panel discussion was the highlight and the closing event of the Africa Business Day. Lead by Silvia Liebrich, business editor at Süddeutschen Zeitung, Walter Englert, Vice President of the Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft (German-African Business Association), Club-of-Rome member Frithjof Finkbeiner as well as the consultants Marc-Peter Zander and Roland Nwancha discussed the perspectives for German companies in various African region as well as different industries.
The event was hosted by Anne-Marie Binette, who made a significant contribution to the success of the event with her sound preparation of the topic and her precise transitions.