The Nordic-African Business Summit is the Nordic region’s leading business conference focused exclusively on African markets. More than 500 delegates from over 30 countries attended this year’s event, which had the theme of sustainable marine opportunities in Africa, particularly in the maritime and energy sectors. Approximately 90% of African imports and exports are carried by sea.
Here are Eivind Fjeldstad’s five tips for business success in Africa:
- Do your homework. Understand the market you plan to enter. Familiarise yourself with the business and general culture of the geographical region you plan to operate in.
- Africa is not one country. It is very important to be aware that Africa consists of 54 very different countries. The neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Rwanda provide a good example: whereas Rwanda is rising in World Bank rankings thanks to the authorities’ extensive efforts to improve the investment climate, Tanzanians have the saying, “You invest despite the government, not because of it”.
- Build a local network. Seek help in identifying the right local partner. Know who you need to talk to and who you should not talk to. In most cases, other Norwegian companies will have been there before you. Talk to them and learn from their experiences and mistakes. Norwegian businesses with existing operations in a country will have useful experiences and important lessons to share.
- Adopt a long-term perspective. At NABA, we believe that African markets should be included in the strategies of all Norwegian companies with international ambitions. Take a long-term view. African countries are not the place to “make a quick buck”. Be patient. When a company is used to a certain system, it may quickly become frustrating when things do not go as expected. Be flexible, and be prepared for things to take longer than planned.
- Be a responsible company. Norwegian companies should not leave health and safety standards behind at the airport. Norway has a good reputation in African countries, due not least to its long history as a development partner without a hidden agenda. An equally important factor, however, is the many Norwegian companies that run their local operations in Africa in an orderly and honest manner.