African Business Leaders Focus on Francophone Markets

Francophone African nations are becoming a priority for the continent’s top business leaders seeking markets that can withstand the global supply chain shocks created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war of Russia in Ukraine.

On a list of the 10 most attractive investment destinations on the continent, six are French-speaking countries, according to the Africa CEO Forumof the Deloitte audit firm’s 2022 survey.

Ivory Coast, which recently hosted the continent’s annual African CEO Forum, tops the list with the highest score, thanks to a favorable business environment, market access and scale.

“Market access/size and business environment are the two main criteria when choosing a location,” according to the survey.

Business environment was the top factor voted for by 27% of executives, while 22% said they were more interested in market access and scale for expanding their business.

Other key factors include country risk, infrastructure, taxation and regulation, and human resources.

Ivory Coast scored 31% on overall attractiveness, followed by two English-speaking countries — Ghana (29%) and Nigeria (28%) — in second and third place, respectively.

The other French-speaking countries—Senegal (26%), Rwanda (19%), Morocco (16%) and Togo (14%)—occupy fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth places.

Benin is tied with South Africa, one of Africa’s largest economies, for 10th place, with Benin’s position likely bolstered by an economic boom that has seen the East African country West almost double its economic growth, from 3.8% in 2020 to 7.2% in 2021.

East African countries, Kenya (23%) and Tanzania (15%) were ranked as the fifth and eighth most attractive markets on the continent.

Business leaders are changing operating models for every market, strengthening governance structures and other foundations for sustainable growth as their companies’ confidence in African markets rises above pre-pandemic levels.

“While some international companies are pulling out of the continent for strategic reasons, pan-African champions are growing and imposing their tailor-made business models for Africa,” said Emmanuel Gadret, Managing Partner of Deloitte Francophone Africa.

More than three-quarters (78%) of business leaders surveyed expressed positive feelings about the continent’s economic prospects.

Although a majority said they are feeling the heat of high sourcing costs and declining revenues due to the Ukraine crisis, 74% are looking to diversify their sourcing.

“Our confidence in the African economy is strong and we will continue to contribute to its sustainable growth through investment and innovation. Despite the challenges, we continue to grow our pan-African footprint with a target presence in 25 African countries by 2025,” said Vista Bank Group Chairman Simon Tiemtore.

Kilani Group Managing Director Sara Masmoudi said the Tunisian pharmaceutical company operating in Cameroon and Ivory Coast has started breaking its reliance on China for logistics and imports. She affirmed that the African continent is now a global player capable of shaping future partnerships with international players.

Pan-African Higher Education Network Honoris United Universities – with a presence in 10 countries – has developed a bespoke academic model designed to address Africa’s key education challenges. It relies on partnerships with public regulators and pan-African industries to meet dynamic employment needs in a globalized and rapidly changing world.

GoMyCode, an interactive and fun learning platform, is also building an African learning model to bridge the gap between standard training offered and accessible jobs. The startup is present in Tunisia, Algeria, France, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

“Cross-pollination between public regulators and the private sector is key to shaping student employability in Africa through accessible and affordable education,” said Honoris United Universities Group CEO Jonathan Louw.

Optorg Group, a vehicle and spare parts distribution company, has its sights set on sustained investment in countries with critical mass and diversified economies in North, East and West Africa, notwithstanding the risks.

“While we analyze risk through our African view, we consider pan-African governance, political stability and currency volatility as key decision factors,” said Laila Ait El Mkadem, Deputy Managing Director of Optorg Group.

Although access to project finance remains low on the continent, top business leaders are keen to use their own funds to grow their businesses. They consider bank financing and private equity funds as alternative financing options, according to the report. — bird story agency