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ASEACC is represented at INSEAD Africa Club's Asia-Africa Business Panel

On 13 June 2024, The INSEAD Africa Club and Professor Claudia Zeisberger hosted an insightful panel discussion titled "How Asian Businesses Can Grow on the African Continent," featuring a diverse array of perspectives on the strategic opportunities and challenges for Asian businesses expanding into Africa. Our Advisory Board Chairman Paulo Gomes represented ASEACC and spoke during the discussion, offering insights into Africa's investment climate and policy landscape, among other topics.

Other Speaker Backgrounds:

  • Dominique Lecossois: With extensive experience in retail strategy and at INSEAD, Dominique Lecossois has expertise in understanding consumer behavior and adapting retail models to diverse market conditions.

  • Devashish Chaubey: As the head of Olam's rice, special grains and seeds, Devashish Chaubey brings deep knowledge of agricultural supply chains in West Africa and Southeast Asia. His work focuses on enhancing agricultural productivity while ensuring sustainability.

  • Manyika Kangai: Manyika Kangai, Managing Director of Muvambi Investments, is a seasoned advisor on China-Africa trade relations. His insights are crucial for understanding the strategic partnerships driving economic integration between Asia and Africa.

  • Joshua Yau: Joshua Yau is a COO and fintech expert with a strong background in digital payments and financial inclusion strategies across Africa. His work highlights the transformative potential of technology in driving economic empowerment.

 

Key Insights:

  • Retail Potential: Dominique Lecossois drew parallels from his experience in retail in Asia, highlighting significant investment opportunities in Africa's retail sector. He emphasised the importance of simplifying objectives and adapting strategies to meet local market dynamics, particularly in industries reliant on intensive human resources.

  • Agricultural Potential: Devashish Chaubey provided insights into the agriculture landscape in Africa, noting its immense potential despite challenges like low productivity and climate vulnerability. He explained Olam's efforts in mechanising farming and improving agricultural practices to boost productivity and support local economies.

  • China-Africa Trade: Manyika Kangai discussed the success of Chinese investment in Africa in sectors like telecommunications and infrastructure, outlining the factors that contributed to Huawei's successful expansion into Africa. He also highlighted the significance of trade agreements like AGOA and COMESA in facilitating market access and stimulating economic growth.

  • Fintech Innovations: Joshua Yau highlighted the transformative impact of fintech in Africa, with advancements in digital payments and financial inclusion driving economic empowerment. He underscored the crucial role of technology in fostering entrepreneurship and economic development across the continent. Paulo Gomes similarly talked about the importance of adapting financial instruments to support farmers and other workers.

  • Investment Climate and Policy: Paulo Gomes discussed the readiness of private capital to invest in Africa, noting the importance of identifying investable companies that align with strategic growth sectors. At the same time, Manyika Kangai posited that PE/VC funds may not be the right capital to inject at this point - instead, Africa should tap on its young people as its greatest resource, restructuring policy so the youth can become successful entrepreneurs.

  • Regional Cooperation: Paulo Gomes emphasised that African countries should better cooperate with one another to attract investors, while segmenting the Asian market instead of viewing it as a monolith. Manyika Kangai further stressed the importance of finding Africa's centres of development that can lead the charge in certain key issues. 

The panelists' diverse perspectives underscored the potential synergies between Asia and Africa, advocating for strategic partnerships and policy innovations to unlock Africa's vast economic potential. Their insights provide a nuanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges in Asia-Africa relations, paving the way for collaborative efforts towards sustainable development and inclusive growth across both continents.

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