Trade between African countries needs to happen faster and be more cost-effective, as opportunities grow and businesses mature.

“Africa is the most resource rich continent on the planet, yet the economies of Europe and the United States are still much bigger. We believe that the key to growing Africa’s economy is to remove the barriers to doing efficient business,” says Michelle Olckers, managing partner at Mazars Cape Town, Therefore companies operating in Africa need to have a clear understanding of the how to do business in the countries where they want to trade. This requires establishing the right local relationships and finding the right players to facilitate business.

“Businesses have to be aware of the fact that they need to partner with organisations who understand the culture of the country that they are in, know how to facilitate trade and investment and who can put them in contact with the right contacts and clients.

“One of the challenges that we have seen so far is a growing reluctance among companies in the rest of Africa to bring their business into South Africa because of the strict controls that we have around issues like BEE. Many international companies are uncertain about whether they will actually be able to operate here. We therefore need to assist the African business sector to overcome these hurdles, and ensure that this is no reason to avoid investing here,” she says.

In addition, access to finance has so far been one of the biggest stumbling blocks for SMEs and small companies looking to build relationships in other countries.

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