The European and African continent share next to history also economic ties, trade and investment opportunities and common objectives. Overall, currently, there are 40 trade agreements in force between African states and third countries. In 2017, the EU was Africa’s largest investor with FDI worth €222 billion. As a result of the close geographical proximity, in particular, the North African region has become a large trading partner of the EU. To find out more about trade and investment between the two continents, read this article.
The African continent offers a wealth of opportunities across different sectors for German and European investors as well as entrepreneurs to finance projects and ventures or establish branches of their companies in African countries. In order to foster these business relationships and facilitate networking possibilities, European and German business associations connect politicians, investors, and business people from both continents. The following list takes a closer look at their engagement, events and initiatives.
African Business Associations in Germany
- The German-African Business Association (Afrika Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft – AV) has been supporting companies in their economic engagement on the African continent for over 85 years. The AV currently has over 550 members across all industries, from start-ups to established companies, institutions and private individuals and has offices in Hamburg and Berlin. The association promotes exchange between German and African representatives from the business and political field. AV hosts regular cross-industry business conferences and country-specific panel talks. Some prominent events are the German-African Energy Forum, German-South African Business Forum and the Africa Day der European Investment Bank (EIB). The chairman is Prof. Dr. Stefan Liebing, the owner and managing director of Conjuncta GmbH. The Vice Chairwoman is Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa since July 2014. In order to connect the next generation of entrepreneurs and managers in Germany and on the African continent, the German-African Business Association has launched the initiative “Indeed Africa!” which is a young business network connecting the European and African continent. The network aims to enhance relationships between political and corporate sectors through relevant networking opportunities and events. A special focus of AV is on entrepreneurship in Africa.
- The Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI) was established in 1996 and is supported in partnership by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA) and the Africa Association of German Business (AV). The initiative focuses on promoting business-friendly framework conditions for German businesses in the Sub-Saharan region. SAFRI aims to influence the Africa policy of the German government to benefit German companies doing business in this geographical area. Additionally, they want to strengthen the perception of Africa as a continent of numerous opportunities for the German economy and promote dialogue between German and African businesses and political figures.
- The Strategic Partnership Digital Africa brings together companies and development cooperation organizations to advance Africa’s economic development through digital innovations. It was initiated in 2015 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Overall, the German government thereby aims to digitalise Africa, ensure sustainable investment and find profitable business opportunities for German companies looking to invest in Africa. This initiative further supports Africa in achieving the global sustainability goals through innovative technology. More than 230 companies are already actively participating in this strategic partnership network. Some of them are large German corporations such as Volkswagen, Siemens or BASF as well as small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups. The most important fields are education, energy, health, agriculture, green technology and mobility. Currently, 30 projects are already in place with 20 more in the pipeline. Some prominent examples are mobile climate insurance, digital tax returns or digitalising supply chains in the agricultural sector.
- The Africa Business Network was established by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in 2019 and offers consulting services for small and middle-size global companies which are looking to invest in the Africa continent. The federal ministry thereby promotes entrepreneurship and helps create job opportunities for African talent. As a result, sustainable economic development is generated. The network is further integrated into other agency programs such as Germany Trade and Invest, foreign chambers of commerce as well as other export initiatives of the German government. Besides, the network access to market research resources and relevant business contacts in Africa. Overall, the Africa Business Network is part of Germany’s strategy to increase its investment in Africa through initiatives such as the Development Investment Fund for Africa implemented on 30 October 2018 by Germany’s chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.
- The German-African Association, located in Heidelberg, focuses on cultural exchange and the relationship between Africa and Germany. This is done through projects in three different segments. The first one is an initiative for renewable energies and installations (IFEEA) consisting of voluntary school projects in Germany to finance renewable energy sources for African communities. The second segment is cultural activities like music concerts, film viewings, exhibitions, seminars and excursions. The last segment initiative tackles medical care for the people of Africa. Nevertheless, the association also promotes business in Africa through a variety of networking event formats.
African Business Associations in Europe
- The European Business Council for Africa (EBCAM) was founded in 1973 and is based in Brussels, Belgium. The council represents investors and operators in Africa as a non-profit organisation. Currently, its members consist of 4,000 European companies with interests on the African continent from different industries. The council attracts potential investors interested in financing projects in the African private sector. Their network includes the European Commission and Parliament as well as the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI). Moreover, they are actively involved in the EU/Africa Business Forum and the ESBC – EU/Southern Africa Business Council. Most importantly EBCAM publishes position papers covering issues related to EU-Africa trade, investment, regulation, politics and sector-specific content.
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