Rapid economic growth, increasing political stability and a young, well-educated and growing middle class are some of the factors lining up to make Africa one of the brightest stars in the constellation of emerging markets.
Africa was home to three of the world’s’ ten fastest growing economies in 2016 – (Ivory Coat: 8.8%, Tanzania: 6.9% and Senegal: 6.6%) – and its growth potential has and continues to generate a huge buzz worldwide. It is this promising outlook that Africa Innovates 2017! wants to capitalize on in order to foster and pivot a new business and trade partnership with the Nordic region.
While the continent has experienced a decade of strong growth, social and economic challenges persist – from job creation for its young population to energy, public infrastructure, and access to healthcare, education and clean water. However, innovation is inspiring millions across the continent as it demonstrates the resourcefulness with which Africans are finding “local solutions to local problems.” This has proven that Africa’s challenges are opportunities that present the continent with the best chance to leapfrog its development and diversify its economy.
It is this innovative and enterprising spirit that the inaugural African-Nordic Business Conference, a business initiative of the Finnish based, Springboard Afro-Nordic Business Platform, wants to tap into. Positioned as the leading forum in the Nordic region for informed and engaged debate on doing business in Africa; it provides an opportunity to identify and develop partnerships, and investor and market opportunities for organizations from the Nordic countries.
Innovation does not happen in isolation and Nordic countries have some of the most productive businesses and organizations in the world – they are consistently identified as being some of the best equipped to compete in the global economy with enormous strengths in innovation and knowledge transfer. Crucially, what makes them unique in being able to support the development of opportunities in Africa is an ability to build on their traditional drivers for growth – development of shared values, entrepreneurship, regional integration, infrastructure development, and public-private partnerships.
“In the current economic environment, we feel that it is especially important to contribute to entrepreneurship and growth by exploring new business partnerships and opportunities in an area where we have some expertise. Growth in Africa has outperformed the global average and we believe Nordic know-how can tap into and further develop that momentum,” says Nigerian-born Kingsley Ify, co-founder and CEO of Springboard African Nordic Business Platform.
Current forecasts put private equity growth in Africa at 8% in 2018 and predict that total investment potential will reach 50 billion USD by 2020. Collective GDP on the continent now stands at USD 2 trillion, and consumer spending is expected to be USD 1 trillion USS by 2020. This is supported by a population of young people aged 15-24, now estimated at 200 million (12 million of whom will have tertiary education by 2030) and a labor force reaching 1.1 billion by 2040. Moreover, the continent boasted 29 billionaires in 2014, while the number of households with discretionary income will rise to 128 million by 2020.
Targeted at African and Nordic companies interested in identifying and utilizing the emerging opportunities and developing fruitful partnerships in Africa, the business and innovation focus sectors include: Education, ICT, Energy, Clean-tech, Healthcare, Entrepreneurship and Infrastructure.
While offering an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded professionals from Africa to facilitate business development, it will focus on the strategies integral to building sustainable businesses on the continent.
“The conference aims to help individuals and organizations looking to start or expand business in Africa and to understand the latest African market trends. It will also provide the knowledge, insights and contacts needed to navigate this potential-rich region,” says co-founder and Head of Operations, Suvi Kingsley.