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Africa: Discovering New Markets

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A meeting of presidents: L-R: Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, The Corporate Council on Africa; H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2009

Many American business leaders are unaware of the potential Africa holds to expand their businesses and increase profitability,” according to a report published in April, 2015 by the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). Perception, critical to business decisions, is one of the biggest barriers to doing business in Africa successfully.

When American business owners think about global trade and international investment, chances are that Africa is the furthest market from their minds. However, a little digging into the potential of African markets immediately reveals some impressive statistics, including the fact that six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. African consumers spend $860 billion on goods and services and U.S. corporations such as General Electric and Walmart are rapidly expanding.

It is also true though that Africa is a challenging market with 54 different countries, eight regional economic communities and over one billion consumers. There are real risks, especially for businesses that are not prepared for the business environment they are entering. For small and medium sized businesses, there is even more reason to be wary, as most business owners cannot afford to make a mistake on a bad investment. However, if you are an entrepreneur considering investing in Africa, or a decision maker at a company interested in expanding to several African countries, the Corporate Council on Africa’s (CCA) U.S.-Africa Business Summit is a great conference to get your feet wet and dive in to the African market.

Widely regarded as the essential conference for companies interested in doing business in Africa, CCA’s 10th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit will be hosted on February 1-4, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. More than 1,000 attendees from every region in Africa, the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, investing and doing business in agriculture, finance, health, technology, infrastructure, security, retail, real-estate, power and energy will be in one place, at one time to do business, but also to tell the real story about investing in Africa.

Without a doubt, the best reason for business leaders to attend the U.S.-Africa Business Summit is that it presents an unparalleled networking opportunity for attendees, including the opportunity to meet with African Heads-of-State, high-level government representatives from U.S. agencies and African ministries, as well as CEOs and other company decision-makers. Attendees will jump start their business relationships across the continent through business-to-business meetings and business-to-government meetings at the conference.

A meeting of presidents: L-R: Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, The Corporate Council on Africa; H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2009
A meeting of presidents: L-R: Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, The Corporate Council on Africa; H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2009

However, the CCA Summit also provides insight into the challenges and opportunities in African business today, which will be invaluable to SME businesses and entrepreneurs. The Summit will feature panels covering everything from understanding U.S. agencies’ procurement processes and the opportunities for companies interested in President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, to appreciating the value of regional economic communities and how technology has changed the way business is done in Africa. Speakers, who are experts in their fields and currently do business on the continent, will have frank, open discussions about their successes and the challenges they face. The conference also features special country-specific ‘Doing Business in Africa’ sessions which delve even deeper into the market and business cultures in specific countries such as Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The Corporate Council on Africa is a membership-based business organization established in 1993 to promote business and investment between the United States and the nations of Africa. Over the last 22 years, CCA has established itself as the premier American organization devoted to U.S.-Africa business. There has been even more interest in Africa lately as the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative is finally breaking into previously held notions about the continent.

In 2015, more than at any other time, Africa has been discussed as the last emerging market and the largest emerging market. CCA has gone beyond these clichés and frequently cited statistics to showcase investment-friendly and stable environments, and has made strides to unpack African policy agendas and regulatory frameworks that make great investments possible. The U.S.-Africa Business Summits have been some of the best examples of the Corporate Council on Africa’s work. Additionally, on the heels of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in August 2014, the organization has carried the baton highlighting the depth and breadth of U.S. investment in Africa. CCA has expanded its efforts to bring companies to Africa leading three successful trade missions to Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2015. Furthermore, 25 percent of the council’s membership is headquartered in eight African countries and 16 percent of CCA staff are on the ground, in different regions of the continent.

The U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2016 will be a distinctly different conference. According to CCA President and CEO, Stephen Hayes “this will be the best and most comprehensive opportunity for American businesses to understand the diverse markets of Africa and create the relationships necessary to do business on the continent.” The Summit in Addis Ababa will be the first CCA Summit in Africa since 2007. This Summit will feature leading American and African corporations looking for new deals and initiatives, as well as hundreds of smaller innovative companies and businesses.

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Plenary on doing business differently at the 2013 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Chicago featuring CCA members including Chevron, Freeport McMoRan, General Electric and Procter and Gamble.

There will also be several new features unique to the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Summit including site visits to manufacturing facilities around Addis Ababa and a dedicated business-to-business networking center. CCA is also strategically partnering with the African Union (AU) and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, which is also the fastest growing economy in Africa. In Addis Ababa, home of the African Union and growing international business hub, companies will enjoy the ideal setting for building new partnerships and expanding business.

On the global stage, the United States is behind when it comes to investing and doing business on the continent. At CCA’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit, your company has the best opportunity to get ahead in Africa.
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The Corporate Council on Africa’s 10th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit will be hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 1-4, 2016. To attend the Summit and for more information, please visit www.summit.africacncl.org or e-mail summit@africacncl.org.

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