February 2014.- In 2012 Catalan exports to Africa amounted to €900 million, and ACCIÓ, aiming to increase the presence of Catalan firms on the African continent, has put Plan Africa into effect, working in collaboration with different sector representatives. As part of a three-year-plan, the idea is to have 1000 Catalan firms interested in building trade relationships with this continent.
In the words of Pere Torres, Secretary for Business Competitiveness, “We need to be there because the future holds a tremendous amount of economic opportunities and ensuring that you are there right from the start represents a competitive advantage”.
Some of the factors that make Africa an emerging business market and that have put the continent on the radar as a “New business Mecca” are as follows:
- Almost 1000 million inhabitants, with half under the age of 24.
- A middle class demographic of 400 million people in search of products and services.
- 7 of the continents economies are amongst the top ten growth economies of the world.
- An emerging and heterogeneous market relatively underexplored and that can give very high returns.
- Spectacular growth of Catalan exports in the region.
All these factors define Africa as an obvious area of opportunities where increasingly more Catalan companies are operating, encouraged by the huge population and by the fact that many countries are only 4 or 5 hours ways by plane and are often within the same time-zone.
Catalan Exports to Africa
In 2012 Catalan exports to Africa amounted to €900 million. Sub-Saharan Catalan exports grew 202% between 2002 and 2012, and 89% between 2009 and 2012. So far, the principal sectors showing an interest in the African continent have been food & drink, chemical, building and infrastructures, industrial and consumer goods, etc.
Initially, Plan Africa main efforts are aimed at increasing local support through the ACCIÓ office in South Africa along with the creation of an antenna network that can assist companies in parts of the continent out of reach of the local offices.
Each antenna is actually a carefully selected person who offers full support to companies with made to measure services aimed at boosting sales and deployment into the continent’s markets. They will perform local market research, search for clients, schedule new business activities as well as organising trade missions and helping in the setting up of companies and staff selection.
Efforts are also being made to boost collaboration between public bodies (institutions, national and international organisations) and private bodies (PIMEC, FEMAC, Tarragona Chamber of Commerce, companies…).
Sub-Saharan Africa Club
To boost business and respond to companies’ questions regarding exporting to the continent, ACCIÓ has set up an agenda of professional sessions and has created the Sub-Saharan Africa Club, a workgroup composed of companies with experience and interest in expanding their African operations. This club aims to:
- Create a common area for experiences and knowhow.
- Establish lessons and best practices from real business cases.
- Encourage collaboration between internationalised Catalan companies in Africa.
- Promote new ideas, actions and activities aimed at expanding the Club’s companies in Africa.
- Create synergies between Catalan companies and from companies from other countries present in Africa with experience in multilateral procurement/funds, opportunity identification, setting up of consortiums, partner search, etc.
All firms wishing to join the group need to have proven experience in one or more African countries (through distributors and final clients, sales or productive deployment).
Participation in this club offers:
- Annual meetings to exchange experiences on specific subjects and problems in Africa in the form of round tables. These will have the presence of experts specialised in for example payments, international operations, etc.
- Subscription to a newsletter on business opportunities in Africa.
- Advantageous conditions to use the services of ACCIÓ Johannesburg, ACCIÓ Accra, Washington and Brussels.