Workshop 4: Intra-Regional Entrepreneurship and Trade

GES 2015 in Nairobi
Workshop 4:  Intra-Regional Entrepreneurship and Trade
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Number of participants – 25

Moderator – Solomon Asamwa – Vice President Africa Development Bank


•    There is minimal trade between African countries
•    Moving personnel and talent across Africa countries is a challenge as it is not supported by most countries
•    It is more difficult for an African to work in another African country than for expatriates from other continents
•    There are immense infrastructural challenges—most of the rail transport system was set up during colonial times for extractive reasons
•    There is excessive focus on foreign direct investment (FDI) than encouraging domestic investment by the locals in African countries
•    Huge resources are required to maintain or improve Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP)
•    Corruption remains a big problem in Africa
•    Unreliable policies and neglect- the case of all customs operations closing down in Nigeria during Christmas without prior warning to businesses
•    High cost of shipping
•    Lack of intra-regional infrastructure
•    Lack of African shipping lines
•    High-cost of transferring money between countries
•     Sovereignty is sometimes an impediment to trade
•    Lack of patenting African innovations – case of MPESA not being able to benefit from other companies/ countries that utilize the innovation
•    Stereotyping – case of Nigerians being considered con-people
•    Visa issuance across African countries is problematic—case of an American getting visa at Kenyan airport yet other Africans have to secure it in advance

•    The Global Business Angel Network offers a huge opportunity for start-up businesses
•    Intra-regional trade creates internal markets
•    African countries need to make it easy to move goods and services across borders
•    In 2050, majority of the world’s young people will be in Africa
•    African countries needs to consider promoting FDI but also look at local and regional investors  as an opportunity
•    Partnerships with all parts of the society is required to achieve progress in Africa
•    Electricity requirements across African borders will continue to grow
•    Small businesses are the backbone for growth
•    Banks are averse to start-up businesses. Start-ups need Angel investors to demonstrate the business opportunity
•    Mentorship and networking  hand-holding are a big plus under the Angel financing package
•    The new Africa Angel network is a huge opportunity for Africa
•    National business Angel networks are important in attracting investment from abroad
•    Large corporations to  train small companies  especially in mining
•    Improve infrastructure
•    Increase flights across African countries
•    The European E-zone may be a good opportunity to set up an African A-zone
•    Improve internet connectivity

Outcomes or conclusions
•    Do we need 54 steel plants in Africa? Maybe not, but we need open borders for trade to happen across countries
•    Large corporations need to work with small businesses---Riontinto (sp) works with small local organizations to provide earth moving services in their mining operations
•    Encourage intra-Africa labor movement 
•    Improve communication between African countries than focus on the west and east
•    “Invention” was important in the 60s’ but today “Innovation” is critical
•    The world requires entrepreneurs to bring ideas to the market. 
•    There are many thinkers but very few take the ideas to the next level
•    Governments need to collaborate with Angels in order to get a bigger return on their seed money investments into small businesses
•    Angels are good for Africa too, and intra-regional Angel networks are important
•    Resolved to undertake “Ease of Doing Business” assessment for regional countries. During the discussion a US entrepreneur offered to donate a team of IT designers to support in the analysis
•    Africans need to invest in their own entrepreneurial projects
•    Focus on educating the west about Africa—tell the good story; talk to the positive