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Slide of the month (SOTM) October. Construction sector performance in South Africa

South Africa’s construction sector is one of the largest in Africa and currently worth about 15 billion USD while contributing 4% to the country’s GDP. Unfortunately, it has been in recession since 2017. The overall growth rate in the past decade has been relatively low at only 2.47%.

A struggling economy and a 12% reduction in spending on infrastructure by the government have negatively affected the sector, and even in the current year 2019, some players report that business is shrinking further.

africon completed a local research project in this sector, which was aimed at achieving a detailled market understanding as well as identifying suitable business partners in South Africa for our client.

Despite the current situation, a short to medium term upturn is likely as there are still many planned projects. Additionally, the government has recently established a 27.5 billion USD infrastructure fund and targets infrastructure spending of 59 billion USD over the next 3 years.

Slide of the month (SOTM) September. Consumer goods distributors in Ethiopia

The impressive growth of Ethiopia over the past decade has put the country on the map in the consumer goods business. In this project, africon identified and recommended potential distribution partners for the client locally. After meeting approximately 20 consumer goods distributors, africon rated and ranked the firms according to key performance indicators previously agreed upon with our client.

Even though East Africa Holding did not make it to the shortlist of the most interesting potential partners, africon was impressed by the company’s strong local networks and standing in the market. Its focus on own manufactured goods provide a strong asset in times of Ethiopia’s forex crisis – even though it (at least presently) reduces the company’s priority on imported foreign brands.

If you would like to know more about consumer goods and FCMG in Ethiopia or other parts in Africa, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Slide of the month (SOTM) August. Real estate projects in South Africa

The real estate industry in South Africa has been growing steadily in the last few years. Looking at the industry’s three main segments, i.e. residential, commercial, and additions/alterations, it is apparent that South Africa´s residential developments have increased the most in value, at a growth rate of 11.37% between 2015 and 2018. Similarly, additions and alterations have increased at a growth rate of 7.92% in the same period. The growth in these two segments can be accredited to the country’s growing urban population.

Although commercial projects are the second largest in South Africa’s real estate industry, there has been a decline between 2017 and 2018. Commercial projects increased in value from 1.15 billion USD in 2015 to 1.8 billion USD in 2017 and declined to 1.3 billion USD in the year 2018, making this the slowest growing segment in the last few years. The main reason for this decline is the current economic performance of the country which is currently quite low after recovering from a recession in the year 2017.

For more questions and comments, do not hesitate to contact us.

Slide of the month (SOTM) July. Africa’s top imports in 2018

There are numerous business opportunities and potentials that exist in Africa which companies can take advantage of. With our sole focus on the continent, we have looked into the African markets to see what sort of products are mostly imported in each market. For the past year 2018 we were able to come up with the following findings.

Over the last five years, Africa has been recording trade deficits. Data trends show that imports to and exports from Africa started increasing in 2017 after a decline in 2015. China, France, USA, Germany, and India have remained Africa’s top export partners over these years.

In 2018, Africa’s total imports were worth approximately 549 billion USD. The largest imported product (using the 4-digit category) was petroleum and mineral oils which was valued at approximately 60 billion USD – that is 11% of Africa’s total imports in that year.

The other top products imported by Africa are: Motor cars for persons (worth 17 billion USD), medicaments (worth 11.4 billion USD), telephone sets (worth 11.2 billion USD), wheat (worth 10.6 billion USD), motor vehicles for the transport of goods (worth 6.3 billion USD), rice (worth 6.3 billion USD), and parts & accessories for motor vehicles (worth 6.1 billion USD).

The largest importers on the continent are: South Africa (imports worth 93 billion USD i.e. 17% of Africa’s total imports), Egypt (imports worth 81 billion USD i.e. 14.8% of Africa’s total imports), Morocco (imports worth 51 billion USD i.e. 9.3% of Africa’s total imports), Algeria (imports worth 47 billion USD i.e. 8.6% of Africa’s total imports), Nigeria (imports worth 36 billion USD i.e. 6.6% of Africa’s total imports), Tunisia (imports worth 20 billion USD i.e. 3.7% of Africa’s total imports), Kenya (imports worth 16 billion USD i.e. 2.9% of Africa’s total imports) and Ghana (imports worth 12 billion USD i.e. 2.2% of Africa’s total imports).

In South Africa, the top three import categories excluding petroleum and mineral oils are: Motor cars, telephone sets, and medicaments. For Egypt, they are: Motor cars, wheat and meslin, and telephone sets. Nigeria’s other top imports are: Light-vessels fire-floats etc, wheat and meslin, and motor cars, while in Kenya, the other top imports are: Motor cars, medicaments, and flat iron.

africon CEO Marc-Peter Zander to speak at the mitafrika Business Forum

The “mitafrika Business Forum” will take place on 20.11.2019 in Nuremberg. mitafrika is an initiative of NIfA (Nürnberger Initiative für Afrika), which was called upon to do educational work so that the full potential of Africa can be exploited by German companies.

mitafrika would like

  • to contribute to strengthening the role of the African diaspora in Germany in order to position it as a bridge-builder for sustainable trade relations between Africa and Germany.
  • to bring German SMEs and African entrepreneurs together in the diaspora and promote a common approach to the African market.

The forum will be moderated by Mrs. Miranda OBEN (Founder and CEO of “The returnees Project“), Mr. Georg ESCHER (Editor/Foreign Policy commentator at Nürnberger Nachrichten and Expert on Africa) and Mr. Gilles Komi MAGLO (Entrepreneur of the African Diaspora).

africon GmbH partner & CEO Mr. Marc Zander will be speaking at the event. With more than 20 years of living, working and doing business experience with Africa in international organization such as the MAN Group and Wincor Nixdorf, Mr. Zander developed a strong understanding of this highly interesting market. His believe in the continent’s potential, the increasing interest of companies who are hesitating but willing to enter business relations with Africa as well as his entrepreneurial spirit led him to found africon as a startup company in 2010.

Mr. Zander will be sharing his knowledge on insights about strengthening the relationship between Germany and Africa.

Some of the questions that will be addressed are:

  • Why Africa?
  • How do we tap Africa’s potential efficiently?
  • Which business areas are particularly attractive for German companies?
  • What needs to be done to provide better access for German companies in Africa?

Learn more here

Slide of the month (SOTM) June. Plastic film imports in Nigeria

The growth of plastic film imports over the past ten years is a demonstration of the increased adoption of plastic film packaging in Nigeria. Along with the growth in usage of plastic films comes a vast variety of opportunities related products and services – from raw materials to mechanical engineering. 

Polyethylene (PE) film is by far the most popular plastic film material used in Nigeria due to its versatility and wide areas of application. 

If you would like to know more about the plastic film industry in Nigeria, how to access this market, or who the right local partners and  customers are, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Slide of the month (SOTM) May. The aftermarket for commercial vehicles in South Africa

Being Africa´s most developed country, the automotive aftermarket in South Africa presents itself with its unique profile, own challenges and opportunities: South Africa is one of the very few African countries with a relatively strong base of local automotive parts manufacturers. A vast variety of international brands have long set up shop, some established their own offices and warehouses. The local motor vehicle fleet of more than ten million is one of Africa´s biggest but has recently only grown very slowly. Together with a sluggish economy, the parts market has become relatively competitive with firms fighting hard for market shares.

The already existing volumes, together with a market that – in a global comparison – still has space for significant growth, open interesting opportunities for international firms.

Get in touch if you would like to know more about opportunities in Africa´s automotive aftermarkets!

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

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 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.

Slide of the month (SOTM) April. Ghana’s aluminium fabrication market

The overall market for aluminium profiles in Ghana is split into three price/quality segments: Firstly, premium profiles are used in large high rise and complex construction projects, which are shaping the skylines of Accra and other cities in Ghana. This segment represents around 19% of the total market volume and is served by so called “International Fabricators” and “Niche Fabricators”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Retail Fabricators” serve around 50% of the market demand with relatively lower price/quality profiles. These profiles are used in common housing construction and for smaller commercial buildings. In between these two segments is the medium price/quality segment, which represents around 31% of the market. Profiles in this segment are used in a variety of residential and commercial construction projects.

Overall, the aluminium profiles market in Ghana has a pyramid shape, with a large budget and a relatively smaller but still significant premium segment. As for other building materials, especially the premium segment holds interesting opportunities for firms from Europe and elsewhere.

If you would like to know more about how your market in Ghana looks, how to access this market, who the right local partners and the customers are, do not hesitate to get in touch.