A DIVERSE CONTINENT WITH VARIED OPPORTUNITIES
Africa holds myriad opportunities for experienced exporters. The continent is home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, yet not a single African country ranks among Wisconsin’s top 30 export destinations. (The highest-ranking in 2020 was South Africa at #32, importing $100 million worth of Wisconsin goods.) Many African countries have sizable populations (with megacities such as Lagos, with 15 million people, and Cairo, with 10 million people), and the middle class is growing across the continent. Within two years, the continent is expected to be home to more than 100 cities with more than 1 million people each, and the total population will surpass 1.4 billion. Although factors such as language barrier, cultural differences and logistical considerations can pose challenges when exporting to African markets, promising opportunities exist for companies that can transcend these barriers.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is organizing a virtual Global Trade Venture to markets throughout Africa from Dec. 6-17, 2021, to help Wisconsin companies connect with export partners. Though necessitated by the pandemic, the virtual format poses a unique opportunity for WEDC to search across a wide range of markets to find the best-matched potential partners for participating companies. Wisconsin’s trade representatives are located in 13 African countries and can facilitate in many more, giving this virtual trade venture a much broader scope than a typical in-person trade venture, which focuses on one or two markets.
Although the larger markets will be a primary focus during the “matchmaking” conducted for each participating company, potential partners may be located in any market served by Wisconsin’s African trade representative: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, St. Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe. Not every country in Africa is a good target market for every exporter; with the broad scope of this virtual trade venture, Wisconsin’s trade offices in Africa can help exporters connect with prospects in markets that might otherwise be overlooked.
To adapt to the pandemic, WEDC converted its Global Trade Ventures into a virtual format that consists of online meetings between Wisconsin companies and potential customers, distributors and other prospective partners in international markets. After learning about your company and products, WEDC’s in-country trade representatives will bring potential partners and distributors to you. All participants need to do is show up ready to make their pitch and ask questions to determine if the potential partner is a good fit.
Because of the time difference, meetings will be held over the span of a two-week period, at times that are the morning in Wisconsin and the afternoon in African markets. Companies in the following sectors are especially encouraged to participate:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Consulting (particularly business process outsourcing)
- Education (particularly technical and vocational education and training)
- Energy/power solutions
- Health care, medical devices and consumables, and related training
- Information technology and related management consulting
- Mining equipment and technology
- Water technology and security