Without a doubt capacity is key. While many who are preparing to invest in Africa, focus their efforts to identify and mitigate against perceived human resource, institutional and legal gaps in Africa, Ms. Rumbi Mugwagwa challenged investors to first look at themselves. Investors including diaspora, often rush headlong into operations, without taking the time to develop a sound understanding of the business environment.
It is often said that business is Africa is relationship-based, and as such is dependent on investors developing a strong network of relationship with government, suppliers, professionals and communities themselves. All too often the assumption is that local regulatory and legal frameworks are weak or non-existent and on this basis, they may opt to ignore them. On finding their projects tied up in legal wrangles, many are surprised to find out that Canadian Embassies abroad have little scope to intervene on business contracts governed by the national law which may differ widely from Canadian norms. Participants echoed the value in seeking out local legal and business expertise to ensure that contracts, shareholder agreements, and prospectuses are structured for various contingencies. Alison Roadburg who has been part of a start-up technology incubator iSpace in Accra Ghana, contrasted the Canadian Business environment in that “Canada is transaction based, whereas Africa is relationship based. You can’t expect that business is done by a single phone call alone”.
Sunir Chandaria spoke of the valuable contribution that the Export Development Corporation and Canada Commercial Corporation play in facilitating international trade, and he pointed out that these projects need not necessarily be huge international projects. With the unfolding developments surrounding Brexit, Paul Tamale echoed the need for a concerted effort by Canadians especially those in the Diaspora to play their part in unleashing the opportunities in Africa.
Njeri Rionge President and CEO of NRBC inc. (Networks Research and Business Capital) and the convenor of the meeting concluded the session by highlighting the opportunities that members of the Africa Expert Forum have to share knowledge, gain expertise and build networks that add real value to their investment strategies. She invited members to attend the next Africa Expert Forum which will take place at the end of July at Cadillac House. The next Toronto Event will take place Thursday, August 25 at 7:00 am at the Verity Club.
If you were not able to attend, recorded segments from the Africa Expert Forum will appear on Jefferson Sackay Reports on the recently launched Afro Global which can be seen in Canada on Rogers channel 708 and Bell channel 2472 at 12:00 and 7:00 pm. The full programme will be aired on the same channels this Saturday, June 2 at 9pm. Links to the full programme will be available following transmission through the various Africa Expert Forum social platforms.