The CIAN 2019 African Forum in review

Organised by the Moniteur du Commerce International (MOCI) and the Conseil Français des investisseurs en Afrique (CIAN) in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Paris Ile-de-France following the release of the 2019 CIAN Report, the latest edition of the African Forum took place on the 8th February in Paris. On the agenda the presentation of the 2018 exclusive study results plus panel discussions and workshops in addition to B2B meetings.

Bringing together 1300 members, CIAN is an important and influential network backed by the government through the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Paris Ile-de-France. This year’s forum focused on technological and organisational changes and innovations which allow us to better understand the emerging African economies.

With regards to development problems and challenges, the findings are the same regardless of the sector (from banking and finance, trade and distribution to healthcare and agriculture): uncertainty, governance, fiscal imbalance and distortion of competition. And the issues are also clearly defined: funding, digital innovation, facilities, regional integration and making best use of natural resources.

Africa remains a land of opportunity with the advantage of transparency and data sharing. Countries across Africa are turning to new technologies, in particular using test phases via start-ups.  The growth of a middle-class population and a favourable age structure have both contributed to these developments.

Following a Business Climate survey carried out by CIAN amongst businesses based in Africa in reference to international suppliers (Total, OBS, Alstom, Huawei, Dangote etc), we can also note the following facts:    

  • France has lost its position as leading European supplier on the African continent in favour of Germany and is now in 7th place in the ranking of countries which are perceived as beneficial within Africa, far behind China (who are in 1st place, Turkey, the USA and Germany)
  • In the ranking of the Top Ten valued international companies, Orange holds the 2nd place, Total holds the 6th place, Renault holds the 8th place and SogeaSatcom
  • France is not present in the agricultural sector and only plays a small role in the insurance, health and renewable energy sectors
  • Attempts to increase market penetration in East Africa continue to be very difficult

To address these challenges, various ideas were discussed by the forum participants:

  • Increase awareness amongst French businesses in order to assist each other with the African market
  • Accentuate digitalisation and digital transformation in order to support key markets including agriculture, energy and finance
  • Anticipate the advantages of the future free-trade zone to be officially launched in 2019
  • Increase imports from Africa
  • Change development models and adopt a Bottom-Up approach. Build at a local level and not the reverse, following the example of Total who have transformed their service-stations into a logistics distribution network or OBS who through their new African subsidiary, offer users accessible services with a basic model smartphone available for 20USD which provides internet access to farmers in order to track the weather

Active on the African continent for over 30 years, Sonema continues to commit to and provide support for its customers and partners in the field, meeting their requirements whilst remaining committed to a structured sustainable development approach.

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