TRADE: Wesgro Seminar On Trade Opportunities
Recent Western Cape Business News
Businesses must move quickly to grab business opportunities in rapid growth markets in Africa before the existing window of opportunity narrows and they get crowded out by overseas competition.
This is the view of Nils Flaatten, CEO of the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro). Flaatten was speaking at the Wesgro “Eye on Africa: Economic Outlook, Trends and Opportunities” seminar, held at Wesgro yesterday.
Keynote speaker Michael Lalor, leader of Ernst & Young’s (E&Y) Africa Business Center, in Cape Town, was joined by Wesgro economist and African trade specialist Julius Okiror and Charl Rudman, Managing Member of Blue Africa Trading, a Western Cape-based trade and marketing company that specialises in African markets.
“Many African economies are looking at growth rates of 7% plus, while Europe is facing zero to 2% over the next few years. As I see it we have a three to five year window of opportunity to grab the best business opportunities now presenting itself in Africa, before the rest of the world catches on. We will face competition not only from the usual suspects like China, India, and France, but also from the likes of Brazil and Argentina,” Flaatten said.
“The point is that the longer you take as a business to form an Africa strategy, the more competition there will be to face,” Flaatten said.
Flaatten said Wesgro was "eager about business opportunities on the African continent” and was leading a number of trade missions to countries in Africa to open up trade channels for local businesses. Wesgro will lead trade missions for local companies across various sectors to Ghana and Cote d’Ivore before the end of March and a number of African trade missions are planned for later in 2012.
Flaatten said Wesgro had a team of experts who were available to help local business people with trade information and contacts, and encouraged prospective exporters to join its Export Development Programme, which is presented in three phases, from basic to advanced.
Wesgro’s recently upgraded website is also set up as a trade portal where buyers and sellers can register and speak to one another. Even big multinationals used it to look for business opportunities.
“We need to push our goods, services and capital into Africa. About 74% of South Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa comes from the Western Cape, mainly in the form of business infrastructure, but there is a lot more scope for FDI into Africa from the Western Cape, and South Africa,” Flaatten said.
Lalor said E&Y, a global firm with many offices across Africa, has identified 25 “rapid growth markets” around the world. Four of the 25 were in Africa: South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.
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