Africa CEO Forum – A Reaction

The Fifth edition of the Africa CEO Forum took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on the 20-21st of March, 2017. There was much debate before the event about the forum’s location—after all—why hold a gathering of Africa’s CEO’s, an event fully focused on Africa, outside of the continent?  Yet, after a long debate, both the organizers and the participants agreed that the long-term socioeconomic development of Africa cannot happen without Europe.

Likewise, Europe’s future is linked to Africa’s. The two continents’ fates are intertwined. As such, Geneva, an international center for business and one of Europe’s most important cities, hosted several hundred African CEOs, businessmen, and businesswomen. The two-day event saw a multitude of meetings take place, thousands of business cards exchanged, countless new connections made, even more raised champagne glasses, and surely the birth of many new business initiatives.

Despite the drop in commodity prices, Africa’s future is bright. Growth in non-oil exporting countries was noteworthy and was fuelled by investments in infrastructure, efficiencies in public expenditure, and FDI. At the end of 2016, 21 African countries posted growth rates of 4% and above. Impressively, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, and Senegal, all grew at a rate of 6-8%. 2017 is set to see even higher growth rates with the rebounding of commodity prices-particularly oil. Nigeria, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea are among the world’s largest oil producers and stand to benefit the most.

The private sector is expected to play a leading role in socioeconomic development of the continent. To encourage investors, efforts are being made to improve the overall ease of doing business in African countries, and facilitate the inflow of FDI. Interestingly, Africa accounted for over 30% of the regulatory reforms globally in 2015. In 2016, Africa attracted ca. $57 billion in foreign investment. The trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2017, either. These figures could be further boosted by addressing some of Africa’s most evident challenges- universal access to power, reliable and maintained infrastructure, water and sanitation. Governments must ensure that these basic, but crucial elements, are in place. Finally, an expansion of regional trade-intra CEMAC, for example- can serve as an added catalyst for growth.

It is undeniable that while Africa faces numerous challenges in its growth, it also presents an unparalleled opportunity for growth. With a population that will be the same size as China’s by 2050, rapid urbanization, the expansion of a middle class, ever increasing internet penetration rates, and a booming youth, the continent’s growth will contribute immensely to global figures. Equatorial Guinea’s GDP has grown, on average, 14.32 percent year-on-year from 1986 to 2015 (http://bit.ly/2a0CWeH). These growth figures are in part attributable to the country’s exports of hydrocarbons. Proceeds from the export of oil and gas have been, and continue to be, strategically invested in projects that will facilitate the growth of other economic sectors. In fact, the government’s Horizon 2020 program identifies certain projects for co-investment with international partners, possibly with you! The country’s leadership has earmarked about $1 billion in funds to help international investors get started.

Yet, despite of all the exciting news originating from EG, it remains a relatively little known African country. Its politics can be difficult to grasp; the bureaucracy can seem intimidating; and the opportunities may not be immediately apparent. White Storm Capital is a Malabo-based company, with offices in Houston, Texas. Its dedicated team of experts specialize in helping businesses and investors succeed. Its wide range of solutions—including accounting, taxes, payroll, human resources, and many others—can help you establish a presence in EG, simplify your business there, and grow! To find out more about what White Storm Capital can do for you, please do not hesitate to speak with one of our Growth Partner Associates.

Written By: Robert Romaniuk | White Storm Capital