Norwegian-African Business Summit 2013
The Norwegian-African Business Summit 2013, NABA’s annual flag ship event, was held on Friday November 1st 2013 in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
330 guests attended, including Norwegian business leaders, African ambassadors, and business representatives from Europe and Africa. The attendees were present to learn more about the opportunities offered in African markets, how barriers to entry to African markets can be broken down, and not least to make new connections.
Ambassador Zondo (front, middle) together with African counterparts and business representatives.
The conference was opened by Mr. Børge Brende, Norway’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs. Having recently taken office, the Summit became the first arena for the Minister to share the government’s views on the future of Norwegian-African relations;
“I prefer to say that the 21st century is Africa’s century. Africa has great potential. Africa should develop this potential. We should not be euphoric, we should be realistic. But there are great opportunities that Africa should capitalize on.
If Africa succeeds in enhancing private sector and foreign direct investments, it will also succeed in eradicating poverty. There is a clear correlation between private investments, a strong private sector and good governance, and later, inclusive, sustainable growth that creates jobs for the young population of Africa.”
The Foreign Minister also pointed towards Africa’s potential for a ‘green revolution’:
“Africa has major opportunities for a “green revolution”. 60 % of the world’s non-cultivated, arable land is now in Africa. With a world population that will increase from 7 billion to 9 billion in 20–30 years means that we have to increase food production. Africa can undergo a green revolution with the right tools. But this will depend on the private sector”.
During his keynote interview with Ms. Zeinab Badawi of the BBC, Mr. Arif Naqvi, CEO of the successful Abraaj Group, reminded the audience that the African continent cannot be painted with one brush. It is an ‘ultra-local continent’, where local knowledge and understanding is key to successful investments.
The importance of partnerships was raised during the final part of the plenary session, in a panel debate moderated by Mr. Jonathan Ledgard of the Economist. Panelists were challenged to give advice on how to develop productive partnerships in an African context, leading to fruitful discussions on who makes an ideal partner, how contextual differences between African countries influence partnerships, public-private partnerships, and the future of partnerships in Africa.
Following lunch the conference broke into parallel sessions focused on particular barriers to doing business and how these can be dealt with in practice. How to link capital to the right investment opportunities was discussed at length by a panel of distinguished investors from Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Practical advice on how to ‘navigate new waters’ – dealing with political risk, corruption, security, due diligence and local content requirements, was offered by experts within these fields. The popular speed dating session in the afternoon offered a great networking arena. Ambassador Zondo alongside more than 20 ambassadors/embassy representatives were present to discuss opportunities in their respective African countries with potential business partners. This year also offered speed dates with experts on political risk, corruption, legal issues, and not least Norwegian financing schemes available for businesses interested in going to Africa.
SA Embassy Oslo, Norway