African heads of state, prime ministers and ministers not only visit the Netherlands to meet their Dutch counterparts in parliament, but also increasingly combine these meetings with visits to innovative Dutch enterprises, so African delegations can witness Dutch expertise with their own eyes.
Economic prosperity and political stability dominate current discourse on business opportunities in Africa. African government officials come to the Netherlands to convey this message to foreign traders and inves - tors directly: African markets have unlimited business and investment opportunities in many different sectors. For example, during the Sierra Leone Business Dinner in The Hague in April 2014, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, depicted Sierra Leone as the country which, “over a decade ago was called a failed state, but which is now a hailed state attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign investment.” Hence, “there is no better time for seizing these oppor - tunities than now,” according to Koroma.
There has been a significant rise in African governmen - tal delegations that explicitly insist on meeting Dutch companies. Since Dutch enterprises are global front - runners in essential industries such as agriculture, in - frastructure, port development, energy and water, in - coming delegations are eager to meet these innovative companies. During their visits they embrace any new investor, no matter the scope of the investment.
In addition to the Sierra Leonean visit, NABC also wel - comed Matata Ponyo, prime minister of the Democrat - ic Republic of Congo in 2014. Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, Global Head of Government Affairs B2G of Philips, be - lieves that: “the visit of Matata Ponyo and his delega - tion was great and has opened new doors for Philips, as the government has a very ambitious healthcare programme that offers great opportunities.” The visit also enabled Alterra of Wageningen University to estab - lish close ties for the development of twenty agroparks across Congo.
Besides Dutch multinationals, small and medium en - terprises have a huge role to play as well. Small dairy and horticulture businesses, for example, possess the knowledge and technology their African counterparts are lacking. The visit to a small family-owned company, Tomato World, was exemplary, as the Congolese del - egation was impressed by the integrated climate and energy systems and the usage of environmental friendly bugs instead of pesticides to protect cultivation.
After many years of one-sided investment from the Netherlands in Africa, it seems that the economic de - velopment Africa has enjoyed has finally given its busi - nesses the opportunity to operate on an equal footing. They are ready to grab the opportunities available in the Netherlands, as a potential export market and as a gateway to Europe. NABC is proud that it has contribut - ed to establishing an environment that connects African delegations with Dutch businesses.