Interview of Marc Zander

africon CEO Mr. Marc Zander Interview ” Investors Lack Information”

CT Executive Search Specializes in senior recruitment in the emerging markets, leveraging its proprietary research capacities in Moscow ad 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 lack information and relations in Africa.

The interview started by covering African countries with most demand and highest potential. Mr Zander outlined the most important factors that drive Foreign Direct Investment FDIs, and the African regions that promote those factors. The interview then covered how to best enter the African market. Mr Zander recommended to study 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
africon consulting

Automotive projects Conducted by africon

Over the past years, more and more automotive firms have shown increasing interest in Sub Sahara Africa. Even though OEMs like VW and Nissan have dominated the news with their announcement of establishing assembly plants in Africa, the largest immediate automotive business potential lies elsewhere: in the automotive aftermarket.

With more than 12 million vehicles on the road in Nigeria, more than 6 million in Ethiopia and almost 2 million in Kenya, more and more automotive parts are sold in Africa. The main challenge especially for global aftermarket leaders from Europe and Japan: the sector requires large amount of data to efficiently and effectively increase sales. With data availability in Africa being a major challenge, africon has successfully plugged this gap and supported aftermarket firms from around the world and in different product segments on their Africa strategy.  Amongst other points, we supported firms with market sizes, details on vehicles in operation, suitable import partners and even research on specific part numbers. For the upcoming years, africon has set an increased focus on the sector and expects more companies to follow current early movers to the continent.

africon consulting

africon carried out a successful market entry strategy in a new industry.

africon was contracted to carry out a suitable go-to market Africa strategy for a major international player in the two-way radio communication industry (LMR). The project covered 7 countries where a total of 184 interviews were conducted with relevant players in the industry. The results concluded from the analysis of all interviews and market data was clear; South Africa dwarfs its counterparts in terms of market size with at market of more than 30 mio Euro. Nigeria, Kenya and Angola on the other hand offer the greatest growth potential going forward. Quality was found to be the key determining criteria for consumers when purchasing two-way radios. This was due to fact that the main users of two-way radios use them in critical situations where quality cannot be compromised including law enforcement, private security, mining, oil and gas. Customers in these sectors are willing to pay a premium for the guarantee of a reliable products. These still hold a market share of more than 80% compared to cheap products from China. Another finding has been that local system partners are key to success where africon identified more than 30 locally in key markets

africon continuously active in training and education in the African context

Beside the longstanding partnership with the Hochschule Bonn Rhein Sieg, the engagement in the TVET initiative in Kenya and the permanent supervision of student’s thesis, africon continues its engagement in the field of training and education also in the city of its new headquarter Bremen.

In November 2018, Sonja Mattfeld was invited to speak in front of a class of international students at the Hochschule Bremen in the study program of Global Management. In her presentation she raised not only the awareness for the huge business potential in Africa and motivated the students to look for careers in that growing market, but also shared insights of research projects and taught some research and analysis techniques. The lecture was part of their business administration curriculum and will in close cooperation with the professor directly enable the students to apply their knowledge in their exams. 

africon is always happy to assist international students and universities, give lectures and support with mentoring of projects related to Africa. For any questions on this please do not hesitate to contact our HR development manager Lena Schwoerer

Marc Zander in Africa investment day

africon CEO was invited to moderate the African Investment Day in Erkrath

Marc-Peter Zander, CEO and Partner of africon GmbH has been invited to moderate the African Investment Day which was held on the 29th of November 2018 to discuss the opportunities and challenges for investment in Africa.

The platform of distinguished African speakers gave a platform to the audience to discuss the first-hand access to investment, find out more about upcoming chances and also things to observe when investing in Africa. Key learning from the discussion steered by Mr. Zander was that investment in Africa needs strong local information basis, involvement with all stakeholders in African countries and the readiness to be locally present. In addition, it was summarised that there are great chances for investors at this moment in time as countries like Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya offer great opportunities for European investors.

africon partnership

africon GmbH is named official foreign representative for the BVMW

Since October 2018 africon GmbH is the official foreign representative for the BVMW “Bundesverband der Mittelständischen Wirtschaft” (German Association for the SMEs) for the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. The BVMW has 18.000 direct company members in Germany and 700.000 indirect contacts within Germany. At the moment the BVMW is strengthening their presence in Africa together with the help of their foreign representatives and a new alliance they formed called the “Mittelstands Allianz für Afrika” (The SME Alliance for Africa).

The SME Alliance for Africa will cover all industrial sectors and will be supporting the German-African business network in order to form sustainable development of their effective economic cooperation. This Alliance has the target to act as a service provider for the German government and German companies in realising projects locally in Africa.
africon GmbH already ventured into first discussion with local African associations that are very interested in partnering with BVMW to form effective partnerships to connect their members with the members of BVMW.

It seems “The SME Alliance for Africa” as well as the local business associations are bot eager to present Africa as a continent full of potential business opportunities and business partners. And africon is more than happy to be the matchmaking party in between and let our broad African network come into play.

write your thesis with us

Write Your Thesis With africon

As a company and employer, we know of the importance of well trained, educated and skilled staff. Since our mission is “Bridging potentials”, we clearly see our own obligation in not only asking for such qualities in our own staff members but also to help build them up in the employees of tomorrow.

Therefore, we offer German and international Bachelor and Master students the opportunity to write their final thesis with us.

Our support:

  • Discuss your thesis topic of choice and sharpen it if needed
  • Assist with contact to local companies, associations, institutions etc. in Sub Sahara Africa
  • Feedback discussions
  • Act as an examiner and grade your thesis if requested by your university

What we ask of you:

  • Approach us with a clear first thesis idea
  • Drive your research, analysis and writing process independently
  • A one-page summary of your final thesis of which we are allowed to use the content

Business in Africa 2.0 – IHK Saarland

After the success of the first event, IHK Saarland has invited africon GmbH for the 2nd time to the topic Africa. This time the theme of the event was “Business in Africa 2.0” to which companies from Saarland were invited.

Mr. Zander, Partner and CEO of africon GmbH was invited as a speaker and presented concrete opportunities in Africa and recommendations for German SMEs on market entry of Africa Strategy. In the later exchange with the participants questions were discussed how to find the right partner in Africa, which countries have the greatest potential and how should a medium-sized company plan its Africa Strategy.

BRS Market Attractivness Index

The signing ceremony of the Market Attractiveness Index for SME’s

The BRS Market Attractiveness Index is intended to help companies select attractive African markets for potential market entries and raises awareness for the African continent. The index will support companies in the early stages of their market entry decision with profound knowledge and helps them plan the next steps of their market entry.

The index uses the combined knowledge of the following parties who officially signed the co-operation document:

  • BRS Institute of International Studies – representing the academic research
  • africon GmbH – representing the local market knowledge in Africa as well as the consulting expertise with having supported more than 60 clients on their way to Africa
  • BVMW, the Federal Association of SMEs in Germany, – representing the interests and expectations from German SMEs
  • Ebner Stolz – representing tax and accountancy research

The BMAISA (BRS Market Attractiveness Index SME Africa) will fill the market gap between consultancies and publicly available information. It provides more customized market information, as companies become more involved in a market entry.

Prior to the signing ceremony, the World Café workshop was held in collaboration with the four parties signing the contract during the event to give the opportunity to participants to discuss the important issues for the development of a German SME specific index and how such an index can support companies in ways that are currently not available.
The workshop provided insights on the following questions:

  • What are key skills and resource constrains faced by SMEs when entering the African Markets?
  • What are key advantages of SMEs compared to larger firms
  • Which aspects of market environments in African countries are particularly important for a successful market entry

The index through its unique features will offer SMEs a perfect start to plan a successful market entry to Africa.

africon consulting

Successful conducted projects on the plastic sector in East and West Africa

In the past months africon conducted two market assessment projects and one very successful business trip to Kenya for major international players of the plastic packaging sector.

Promising future market in Nigeria

The two market assessment projects had Nigeria as their focus market and more than 100 interviews were conducted with all relevant players of the plastic packaging sector locally.
The results concluded from the analysis of all interviews and market data in Nigeria is very clear: the plastic (packaging) sector in Nigeria is very vivid and growing at a high pace. Nevertheless, the Nigerian market is highly cost conscious. Competition is set on pricing strategy: the cheaper the product, the more sales a company makes. Most manufacturers still shy away from cost increases even marginally. The majority of consumers do not care much about quality as they do have an open eye for the cost.

At the same time the future is certain to come with changes. The upper middle class is expanding and there’s a growing awareness on quality products among Nigerian consumers generally.Any high quality / high price level company entering the Nigerian market will need a targeted product awareness campaign to help realize the market potential for their products. Both end users and converters need some form of education on the use of the products.

Modest expectations in Kenya

For Kenya, which has only a quarter of the population that Nigeria has and which’s BIP is 5 times smaller, the picture looks a bit different. The local production of BOPP film is for example not meeting its expectation in terms of capacity as it stands at around 30,0000 tons per year in Nigeria. Also, the import of machinery to manufacture plastic film stands at $ 87m in Nigeria but only at $ 38m in Kenya. But with the growing food manufacturing sector in both countries it is expected for the plastic packaging industry to grow as well. Since importing ready-made plastic film comes definitely more costly at one point than local production.

For any questions regarding this project please feel free to contact our practice leader Ms Lena Schwoerer.