africon CEO Marc-Peter Zander is the PARLA expert trainer of the month for Africa

africon CEO Marc-Peter Zander is an external PARLA expert on Africa’s cultural and economic sector and has decades of experience with the continent. If you have followed us for a long time, you may know that he has spoken on many occasions as a keynote speaker, panelist and moderator on culture in Africa. See more from our news section.

He has vast experience in market entry consulting, regional focus sub-Saharan Africa, Africa´s economy, banking IT, FMCG, steel and packaging.  He is also a member of the International Advisory Network for Africa and has been working on Africa since 2002.

Since 2016, Parla and africon work together in consulting international firms on their cultural understanding with the key regions of Nigeria and Kenya.

Get to know more about him as well as his speaking portfolio here .

Sub Saharan Africa Workshop @METEC 2019: Successful premiere

African and German firms discuss market potential in Africa

Key players from Africa and Germany exchanged ideas on how to do business in Africa at the METEC 2019 Sub Saharan Africa Workshop. This workshop focused on the challenges and opportunities of the African metallurgy market. Speakers from a variety of African and European countries and companies were invited to hold presentations and participate in panel discussions thus giving the international audience an excellent insight into the African markets. The METEC Sub Saharan Africa Workshop took place for the first time on June 26th, 2019 during the METEC trade fair in Dusseldorf, Germany. It was initiated and organized by africon GmbH in close cooperation with Messe Düsseldorf and “The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association” in Germany (VDMA) represented by Dr. Timo Würz, Managing Director of VDMA Metallurgy. More than 50 attendees participated in the high-level workshop.

The Event

The event was characterized by an open and lively exchange between all participants and panelists. Opinions were exchanged, similar and differing ones debated, and many conclusions drawn. Several key challenges not only to European firms, but to African nations and industries were identified.

The following recommendations arose:

  1. European firms should consider Africa as a market. Although often small and sometimes challenging, some African markets can be very profitable and provide huge long-term growth opportunities. Many Africans already appreciate European quality.
  2. International firms have to understand that Africa is a huge and diverse continent. Especially smaller firms will not be able to deal with all countries at once. Clear priority countries have to be defined early on.
  3. Skills are a critical bottleneck locally. Training and education for staff is a key to success. Organizations like the German VDMA are in a position to support here as well.
  4. Providing adequate aftersales service is key for EU machine suppliers to African customers. To achieve this at reasonable costs, teaming up with other suppliers or utilizing locally present external service providers can be beneficial. Creating service hubs in certain countries can be equally help. E.g. Kenya can be used as a hub for East Africa.
  5. German firms often have to show flexibility in their commercial terms and conditions, as well as showcase cultural understanding for the other involved parties.
  6. German firms – wherever possible – have to check on their pricing models as this is still a huge issue. In that context, modular/scalable solutions are often highly appreciated. Offering German solutions made in lower cost countries like India can be interesting entry level options as well.

“As africon, we were very pleased to see a lively event with valuable insights for both existing market players and new entrants. We hope the valuable contacts exchanged on the event will bear fruits in future”, summarizes Mr. Marc Zander CEO and Partner africon GmbH.

More Details about the Programme

Panel 1 addressed: Needs and expectations of German/international metals production, metals processing and metallurgical machinery sectors when looking into doing business in Africa (e.g. technology, education & training, competition, etc.)

The Panelists included Dr. Tim Nikolaou (Managing Director, Frech Group, Germany), Mr. Cedrick Lusaka (Area Sales and Project Manager – Africa, Maschinenfabrik Herkules GmbH & Co. KG, Germany), Mr. Solomon Mulugeta (Director, Ruhe Consult and General Manager, Ethiopian Association of Basic Metals and Engineering Industries), Dr. Norbert Völker (VDMA department of educational policy / Skilled workers for Africa Project Manager), Mr. Glen Dikgale (President, South African Institute of Foundrymen (SAIF), South Africa. The Panel was Moderated by Marc Zander (CEO & Partner, africon GmbH).

Panel 2 addressed: What the African markets offer to and need from German/international metallurgy, steel casting and metal companies willing to start business in Africa? (e.g. market potential, financing, local support)

The panelists included  Mr. Till Schreiter (Managing Director, ABP Induction Systems GmbH, Germany), Mr. Bobby Johnson (Sector Chairman, Kenya Association of Manufacturers KAM, Metal & Allied Sub Sector as well as Director, Steelmakers ltd, Kenya), Mr. Ime Ekrikpo (Director Steel & Non-Ferrous Metals Department, Ministry of Mines & Steel Development, Nigeria), Mr. Gupta Gagan Santosh (Chairman, Kamal Steel Group, Tanzania), Mr. Dieter Brandstätter (Managing Director, ANDRITZ Maerz GmbH, Germany ). The panel was moderated by Friedrich Wagner (VDMA department of foreign trade).

For any more info, do not hesitate to contact us.

Bertrand Mignot joins africon GmbH advisory board

africon GmbH prides itself in having a very experienced advisory board. The advisory board which has significant long-term Africa experience guides and advises africon GmbH in its current growth phase and contribute with ideas, contacts and local know how. We are very pleased to have another member to our board, Mr. Bertrand Mignot. Mr. Mignot was a Senior Consultant for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). He was formerly in management roles at Deutsche Bank, Renault Nissan Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, Rawbank. His main focus is on financial services, IT and health. He has a BSc Business and Engineering from University of Coventry and an MBA from Mannheim Business School. We look forward to having Mr. Betrand in our advisory board and strengthening the growth of africon.

africon and Wolk After Sales Experts join forces for Africa

We are proud to announce that africon GmbH and Wolk After Sales Experts are joining forces for Africa.

Both German consulting companies are leaders in their respective fields, namely global automotive after sales industry and Sub-Saharan Africa business environment. Together Wolk and africon will be able to provide clients with comprehensive information and consulting support across the continent.

Since the beginning of its operations in 1994 Wolk After Sales Experts has grown into a consulting powerhouse well known to both vehicle manufacturers and independent aftermarket operators. Thanks to carefully built network of partners across Europe, Wolk monitors automotive markets in 35 countries – from Portugal to Russia and from Norway to Turkey.

In one world economy our clients need support not only in Europe, but on the other markets as well. Our cooperation with africon will allow us to include data from Sub-Saharan Africa into our AFTER SALES ACCESS aftermarket business intelligence tool. This will be a major asset for any automotive company aiming at creating or improving its distribution network in Africa” explains Zoran Nikolic, Managing Director at Wolk After Sales Experts.

africon GmbH, established in Germany in 2011, currently has offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. The company employs a team consisting of 7 nationalities speaking more than 10 local languages while running a network of more than 50 consultants in the African region. Over the past 5 years africon conducted more than 20 automotive projects in Africa.

The African automotive markets have been growing with more than 6% over the past years and offer great chances for global operating companies. After various independent aftermarket projects in Africa, africon could obtain significant data and know-how on African markets like Nigeria and Kenya which we are happy to offer to the excellent network of Wolk After Sales Experts” states Marc-Peter Zander, CEO & Partner at africon GmbH. Mr. Zander will be also a keynote speaker during upcoming Aftermarket Forum 2019: Going global! It is a top-level automotive industry event taking place on April 17th in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and organized by Wolk After Sales Experts. This year’s edition will focus on market snapshots of different regions of the world and Sub-Saharan Africa will be covered by the representative of africon.

In day-to-day business operations Wolk After Sales Experts and africon together will provide clients with exclusive market research, market intelligence and consulting projects in African countries.

africon presents on “Independent Aftermarket” in Frankfurt

Over the past 4 years africon has been supporting IAM (Independent After Markets) automotive clients for their Africa growth strategy with research and data. A clear focus has been on the markets Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya where africon supported clients in the business fields of filters, spark plugs and engine parts to grow their business.

Within a forum organised by the company Wolk After Sales Experts, Marc Zander, CEO & Partner at africon presented the chances in Africa for IAM companies and recommended the following key points to observe with a market entry into Africa: Increasing know how on the African market to understand the market value chain; increasing sales efforts to be closer to clients and partners; selection of key distributors who also serve the informal markets.

“Over the past 5 years Africa has been growing with more than 6%. This offers great chances for automotive companies in the IAM sector”, concludes Marc Zander.

africon presence in agrofood & plastprintpack Ethiopia

According to Jean Wandimi, africon Kenya, the international trade fair “agrofood & plastprintpack Ethiopia” was again very successful. africon Kenya is already active in the East African agricultural sector. Our experts therefore visited the fair in Addis Ababa, which this year took place in May for the third time. The fair unites the two topics Agriculture and PPP (Plastics, Printing, Packaging). The focus is on the agricultural sector. Main topic of this year’s fair was food safety and recycling. Many presentations and panel discussions focused on topics such as reducing food waste and waste, increasing agricultural productivity through innovation, but also highlights such as financing for SMEs were presented.

The africon Kenya team draws a positive balance after the visit: a well-attended fair with interesting and insightful events that offered many opportunities for professional exchange, with a positive outlook on the future development of the East African agricultural sector.

If you have any questions, please contact Jean Wandimi, africon Kenya.

africon GmbH won their first tender with GIZ

africon GmbH won their first tender with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) – The official German association for international cooperation. africon was then invited to organize the program of a Tunisian delegation visiting Germany from 24-26th April of this year.

During their time in Germany the Tunisian companies met with German companies of the food & beverage sector to create valuable and fruitful contacts in order to create long lasting partnerships for the purpose of entering Sub Saharan African markets with joint forces.

The delegation trip was part of the 4-year GIZ project PEMA (Promotion des exportations créatrice d’emploi dans des nouveaux marchés africains), which aims at supporting export activities to Sub Sahara Africa and to further job creation in SSA. The Tunisian delegation consisted of 7 food processing companies and visited Germany for 2 days.

The core piece of the delegation’s trip was a B2B Workshop at the Congress Center Düsseldorf on Thursday, 25 April 2019. During this event the German and Tunisian companies received very good insights into the Tunisian as well as Sub Saharan African markets of food & beverage processing through overview presentations given by africon GmbH and Deloitte Tunisia (the local Tunisian partner of GIZ). 

After these introductory presentations the participants exchanged ideas & interests in individual discussions while sharing coffee and lunch.

All participants (Tunisian & German) said that the B2B event, including the presentations, was very satisfying and useful.

During their first day, on 24. April 2019 the Tunisian delegates received the opportunity to visit one of the largest German non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers “Sinalco” (Deutsche Sinalco GmbH Markengetränke & Co. KG).

During this site visit a presentation about the history of Sinalco was given and Sinalco presented their production facilities to the delegation. This gave the Tunisian company representatives the opportunity to experience one of the largest German beverage manufacturers “in action”.

GIZ Delegation

In case you missed the B2B event but are interested in learning more about the Tunisian companies, please don’t hesitate to contact us or Mr. Fabian Schuster.

africon presence at agrofood event in Lagos, Nigeria

The agrofood event took place alongside the plastprintpack event from the 26th to 28th of March, 2019, featuring over 120 exhibitors from 24 countries. Africon was part of the 2,094 visitors in attendance, and was well represented by our Nigerian team.

Asides the display of new technologies and products by exhibitors, the event included a very insightful 3-day conference, where industry experts shared their knowledge and foresight about different topics relating to the food and beverage processing, plastics and packaging business in Nigeria.

According to africon representatives, it was such an interesting and insightful event, and they had great  interactions with many exhibitors and visitors .

africon publishes African steel insights on the ITA Journal.

Last October and in the International Tube Association 3rd journal edition, africon published an article about the Steel industry in East Africa. The article started by portraying the image of Africa that is perceived by the rest of the world. Many countries in the continent have started to change their image from a crisis centre to a potential emerging market. The macro economic factors strongly indicate positive changes that will lead the continent to be the next emerging market. The growing young population together with economic growth on the continent lead to a growing labour force and cities which lead to a significant increase in middle class. Furthermore, the continent is pushing towards manufacturing and automation as this sector remains as the continent weakest link. Also, constant rise in foreign direct investment over the past decades is further boosting the economy not only in financial terms but as well in terms of knowledge, expertise and technology.  Industries of almost all kind will experience a rapid growth due to this economic boom, however the African market is still very diverse as the continent host 54 countries.

East Africa currently distinguish itself by economical growth and political stability in the region and the least dependent on commodities such as gold or oil. The region was projected to capture the highest regional economic growth over the past year in Africa. The article went in depth to analyse those macro-economic factors and focused on the drivers of steel industry that promote economic growth in Africa and especially in East Africa

Overall, Africa does host enormous opportunities for firms from around the world. With its diversity and complicity however comes the need to evaluate closely where they are and how to make use of the it.

To access the full article, please use the link below:
The East African Steel Industry

africon CEO Mr. Marc Zander – Interview ” Investors lack info”

CT Executive Search Specializes in senior recruitment in the emerging markets, leveraging its proprietary research capacities in Moscow at a network of partners in Asia, Africa and Eurasian Economic Union. CT Executive interviewed africon GmbH CEO and Partner Mr. Zander last October to share insights about investors information and relations in Africa.

The interview started by covering African countries with most financial demand and highest potential. Mr Zander outlined the most important factors that drive Foreign Direct Investment FDIs, and  emphasised on the African regions that promote those factors. The interview then covered how to best enter the African market. Mr Zander recommended a detailed study of the market in order to enter with best fit African Market Entry strategy.

For the full interview please use the link below to gain more insights about investors lack of information in Africa: Interview https://www.ct-executive.de/download-file?file_id=472&file_code=de37e6d523