XCOM Africa was recently invited to participate as one of a few selected panelists at the 15th Africa Business Conference, organized by the Harvard Business School in Boston, MA. The conference aimed to showcase those who continue to shape and influence the African story through business and enterprises, and to create an environment for like-minded individuals to meet, exchange ideas and spur one another on to action. The event was attended by over 1.300 visitors from all around the world.
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.
African economies and businesses demonstrate an immense potential. Especially, Nigeria is a vantage point to develop and determine quality in services and consumer products and has become a hub of the African economy. With steady growth of more than 5 % is Nigeria one of the strongest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Financial Times says: “Africa´s growth would still be there even if the continent held neither a barrel of oil nor ounce of gold.”
Although there are many problems in the way of handling agricultural products and production, for example in harvesting, transporting, packing and drying, the right investment in every part of infrastructure and distribution would ensure improvement of the whole environment.
Nigeria has got huge stock of natural resources and because of that the country plays a major role in the African agricultural sector. These include 68 million hectares of arable land, fresh water sources covering 12 million hectares; 960 kilometers of coastline and an ecological diversity which enable the country to produce a wide variety of crops and livestock, forestry and fishery products. Accordingly agriculture plays an enormous role in the Nigerian economy and composes 31.99% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Because of that the Ministry of Agriculture predicts that by 2015, 20 million tons of food will be added to the supply chain. This positive development could generate 3.5 million jobs within the next couple of years and would require improved processes to secure the delivery to remote areas. Right now the food sector in African countries like Nigeria still has to struggle with specific problems: „Goods are stored poorly, packaged inappropriately, processed too late or unsatisfactorily transported,“ Marc Zander, CEO of XCOM Africa explains. His firm provides business consulting to companies that are interested in doing business in Africa. Western knowledge is especially valuable in the fight against food loss, states Zander. „Western companies can offer concrete support even with relatively small solutions.“
One of the essential elements that can reduce the food losses in the areas of fishing and harvesting is to use appropriate packaging solutions. These solutions would allow transportation of goods to remote areas where delivery takes more than 48 hours to reach. Moreover, with lack of power and infrastructure the right packaging would ensure safety and quality of food resulting in better pricing due to full supply of the agricultural products. This is where the industry can support the positive development to create a certain level of standard, to improve the delivery situation and of course to optimize logistical processes.
The way of creating chances for the development in Nigeria drives SAVE FOOD together with XCOM Africa and it is aimed at identifying potential solutions by the industry for the improvement of the Nigerian agricultural market and its logistics chains.
XCOM Africa GmbH is a new supporting member of the SAVE FOOD initiative and as a result is backing the fight against worldwide food waste. The focal point of cooperation is the African continent.
In many countries of the world people have to starve because the food has perished before it reaches the consumer. In Africa, too, considerable food losses in the value chain are an issue that has to be taken seriously. In joining the SAVE FOOD initiative XCOM Africa would like to place the focus on this message and develop solutions with all partners.
“In a study we have established that today Nigeria is already the largest consumer market in Africa”, says Marc-Peter Zander CEO, XCOM Africa GmbH. The population of Nigeria will increase to 326 million people by 2050. The demand for food will be correspondingly high. “Today as many as 87% of Nigerians still obtain their food from so-called informal markets. As African countries frequently suffer from not having the necessary means or know-how to protect fresh food from perishing, packaging solutions could be used to improve food handling in these countries. As XCOM Africa, one of our aims is to bring German companies and their solutions to Africa. This approach will enable food in Africa to be protected from perishing in future”, Zander said. Read more here !
signotec and XCOM Africa announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership. From now on XCOM Africa is the distribution partner for the Nigerian market.
Nigeria is one of the biggest markets in Africa. About the years it has already shown that it grows above average in the sector of banks, telecommunication and services. signotec hopes to enter the African market .
Die Firma Haller Nutzfahrzeuge hat sich für XCOM Africa als Partner für den Markteintritt in Afrika entschieden. Ziel der Firma Haller Nutzfahrzeuge ist es vor allem im Bereich LKW und LKW Ersatzteile den Markt von Afrika zu erschliessen.