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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- German firms often have to show flexibility in their commercial terms and conditions, as well as showcase cultural understanding for the other involved parties.
- 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).
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