Our takeaways from JETRO’s Africa Investment Forum 2019
West Africa Area Manager
Last week, Optimetriks was invited to speak during the 2019 edition of the Africa Investment Forum of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) . JETRO is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. The event took place at the Maison de la culture japonaise in Paris with the aim of promoting partnerships in Africa between French and Japanese companies.
The forum attracted around 200 participants. Among the speakers, several high officials from dynamic African countries presented overviews of the latest investment opportunities while Optimetriks and two other companies shared their testimonies on their ongoing innovative projects in Africa.
Countries luring Japanese investment in Africa
One by one, speakers from authorities and investment agencies defended the case for investing in their countries and presednted the main growth sectors. Nine African countries were showcased : Egypt, Ethiopia, Jenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania.
Dr. Moses Ikiara, Managing Director, Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest)
Mr. Yunus Hoosen, Head, Invest South Africa, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
While Mouizz El Alami, Head of Investment Department of AMDIE, emphasised Morocco’s already large footprint in the rest of Africa, NIPC’s Executive Secretary Yewande Sadiku presented Nigeria as the economic powerhouse of the Sub Saharan Africa with its large population, GDP, and wealth of natural resources. Mohamed Youssef, First Undersecretary of GAFI underlined Egypt’s position as a gateway to Africa & Middle East.
Regardless of the specificities of each country, the same key messages were given :
Growth and market dynamism :
It is now well established that Africa boasts the fastest growing economies. The high growth potential of the local market is at the top of JETRO’s ranking of the reasons to setting up business bases in Africa. Thus, every country presented its own growth indicators. For instance, Ethiopian Investment Commission’s Deputy Commissioner, reminded how Ethiopia had a double digit economic growth during the past 14 years. They all insisted on the large range of sectors where there is a need for public but also private investments.
Achievements in terms of infrastructure :
the countries attending this forum were indeed among the most developed ones in Africa. This aspect was brought to the fore with Ethiopian Airlines cargo network, the Suez Canal or even South Africa modern seaports and all the infrastructures enabling inflows of foreign investments. The general purpose was to overcome Africa perceived barriers to investment.
Pro-business political reforms for a more business friendly environment :
, EY highlighted how African countries needed to create a more business friendly environment for it was a impediment for investment for over 70% of the respondents. During the forum, the majority of the speakers focused on the political reforms and public plans to attract investors. It was essentially tax incentive measures (VAT exemptions for some of the plant , machinery and equipment in Kenya for example) and simplified procedures to settle and create a new business.
France, a gateway for Japenese investments in Africa
JETRO’s Africa Investment Forum was held for the first time in Paris with the participation of Business France, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France (CCIJF), and Chamber of commerce and industry of Paris region (CCIP).
In this trilateral cooperation, France was portrayed as a portal to Africa for Japanese businesses. The purchase of CFAO by Toyota Tsusho Corporation in 2012 already showed Japan’s willingness to increase its presence in Africa. Since then, the number of Japanese companies doing business in Africa went from 192 to 392 in 2018.
Alongside Japanese innovative company Sucrecupe Technologies, two French companies were chosen to present their projects in Africa : Dassault Systems and Optimetriks.
Loïc Ballester, COO of Optimetriks
“Thanks to Kenya’s position as the leading economic power in the region, and the political will of attracting investments we have observed over the recent years, the country has emerged as a world business hub and a digital platform for big companies and startups.”
Although, the forum aimed to present all the business opportunities in every sector, digital innovation was the common feature which stood out of the three testimonies. Christian Nardin, Senior Vice President at Dassault Systems gave a detailed presentation on their Software designing activities and the potential they see in the African market, and our COO Loic Ballester presented how Optimetriks helps the FMCG companies to overcome their distribution challenges with digital tools.
Among the three companies, Optimetriks differentiates itself by being 100% focused on Africa. Our presence at this forum was the occasion to confirm to Japanese and French investors that Africa is the place to invest and create business in 2019.
More information on Africa investment environment :
Morocco : www.mcinet.gov.ma ; www.amdie.gov.ma
Ivory Coast : www.cepici.ci ; www.225invest.ci
Egypt : www.gafi.org.eg
South Africa : www.investsa.gov.za
Kenya : www.invest.go.ke
Nigeria : www.nipc.gov.ng ; www.theiguides.org/nigeria
Mozambique : www.apiex.co.mz