How to successfully enter the African Market: “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” launched

Africa is one of the world’s largest and most diverse continents: 54 countries, rich cultures, stunning landscapes, and hundreds of ethnic groups speaking a total of more than 2,100 languages. Africa is considered an emerging continent that offers businesses various opportunities to invest successfully. In order to help German small and medium sized enterprises (the “Mittelstand”) to enter the African markets, the BRS Institute at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS), africon GmbH, the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Enterprises (BVMW) and Nexia International released the “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” (SME Index Africa).

It was presented to the public on October 15, 2019 at the roadshow “Successful to Africa” ​​organised by BVMW in Korntal near Stuttgart and received a very positive response from the participants in the SME sector.

The “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” provides a rating for 34 African countries, which cover 96 percent of the continent’s economic output. Based on a variety of weighted criteria, the index summarizes the attractiveness of African countries in an overall rating specifically tailored to the needs of German SMEs. The ratings allow companies to estimate the attractiveness of business activity in the respective country.

The An-Institut of the H-BRS is not alone in its assessment that Germany is currently not among the frontrunners in terms of investment in Africa. “At the EU and UN, G8, G20 and many other international organizations and industrialized countries such as China and Japan, Africa has long been at the top of the agenda,” says Professor Dr Jürgen Bode. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has recognized the “unique opportunities” and the “great potential” and wrote in 2017: “About half of the 20 fastest growing economies are located there. By 2035, Africa will have the largest workforce worldwide. This is where the global markets, the customers and the employees of the future are growing.” The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has also been pursuing a focused “Africa strategy” since 2018. The “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” aims to support the German “Mittelstand” (SME sector) in its own quest to expand in Africa by raising awareness about opportunities, creating transparency at an early stage by providing a guideline for a structured approach to the African markets.

The “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” draws its information from 55 input factors consisting of specifically gathered primary data and existing secondary data sources. These are summarized in 16 “indicators” for SMEs, which in turn are condensed into three “key indicators”. These “key indicators” – “Scale and Scope of Opportunities”, “Getting into the Market” and “Navigating inside the Market” – give rise to a country rating that allows a mid-sized company a quick overview of each country’s business appeal. A special feature of the “Mittelstandsindex Afrika” is the evaluation of factors and indicators against the background of qualitative expert interviews with medium-sized companies, state institutions and chambers and associations.

The key indicators

Scale and Scope of Market Opportunities

Before a medium-sized company from Germany concretely examines a market entry in an African country, it has to find out whether the market offers the necessary demand for its products or services. The first key indicator “Scale and Scope of Market Opportunities” helps: It measures the size, growth rate and share of interesting market segments of B2B (industrial, agricultural, services) and B2C sectors, while keeping in mind the strengths and weaknesses of the German “Mittelstand”. In addition, this key indicator examines the potential of an African country to serve other countries in its vicinity as a hub. Overall, the company gets a very good first impression of the relative market opportunities that can be expected from each rated country.

Getting into the market

Once a company identifies a country with promising opportunities, it has to plan how it can actually enter the market. Many factors can make it more difficult or easier to do so. The second key indicator “Getting into the Market” measures the conditions in the respective African countries with regards to the question “what does a firm need to enter a market and how easy are these factors obtainable in the country?”. With this information, a business can gain a first comprehensive view of what to expect in terms of resource requirements and complexity when entering the respective market.

Navigating inside the market

After entering the market, it is crucial for success to prove yourself in the competition, to work efficiently and to expand. The third key indicator “Navigating inside the Market” showcases how easy or difficult it is to do exactly that: grow successfully in the market, taking the perspective of the “Mittelstand”. This key indicator thereby helps to better assess the situation on the ground.

At africon, we are convinced that this index can tremendously support German – and other – SMEs or the “Mittelstand” to reduce complexity in entering African markets.

To learn more about the index check here www.mittelstandsindex-afrika.de