Event Recap: Growing Across the Border 2024

On June 24, Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) and Invest International hosted the seminar "Growing Across the Border 2024". The event was a resounding success, brimming with energy and enthusiasm from attendees and speakers alike. It provided a wealth of insights on critical topics such as the global economy, conflicts, climate change, and business opportunities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

4th of July 2024 Report

One of the breakout sessions during the seminar concerned “Doing Business in Africa”. The moderation was provided by Ms. Irene Visser (ADSB) and the panel composed of NABC’s Deputy Managing Director, Ms. Núria Vlonk-Cunha Soares, Mr. Frank Hoogers (Independent Energy), Mr. Jeroen Vlutters (DGGF/BuZa), and Mr. Edwin van Veenhuizen (Invest International).

Business Trends and Developments in Africa

Núria’s talk focused on three main points that underscored the immense potential and opportunities for Dutch companies in Africa.

She highlighted the significant economic transformation taking place in Africa. The continent is experiencing a burgeoning middle class, rapid urbanisation, and an increasing demand for energy. According to UN estimates, Africa’s population is expected to reach 3.9 billion by 2100, accounting for 40% of the global population. This demographic shift presents a vast market potential, with a growing middle class that could reach 1.1 billion by 2060. This population will drive demand for food, healthcare, renewable energy, education, and employment.

Urbanisation in Africa is occurring at an unprecedented rate, particularly along the west coast from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria. By 2050, this region alone is expected to house around 51 million people, growing to half a billion by 2100. Additionally, Africa boasts abundant renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy. Countries like South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Senegal are leading the way in operational solar farms, while green hydrogen is becoming increasingly important in the continent’s energy strategy.

Africa is also rich in critical minerals needed for the global energy transition, such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, and other rare earth metals. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, supplies 63% of the world’s cobalt, essential for smartphones and electric vehicles. Moreover, innovations in agritech and sustainable agricultural practices are transforming the agricultural sector, offering significant opportunities for growth and development.

Opportunities for Dutch Companies

Dutch companies are uniquely positioned to leverage these trends and contribute to Africa’s growth. Núria emphasised several areas where Dutch expertise can make a significant impact:

  • Technological Solutions: Dutch companies can introduce advanced technologies in precision agriculture, mechanisation, and AgriTech, fostering innovation and productivity.
  • Infrastructure Investments: Building storage facilities, processing plants, and transport networks can improve market access and reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Sustainability: Promoting sustainable agricultural practices and organic production aligns with both environmental goals and food safety standards.
  • Education and Capacity Building: Collaborating with local universities and training centers can enhance skills and knowledge transfer, boosting local capacities.
  • Market Development: Assisting African farmers in exporting their products and creating robust trade networks can open new business opportunities and enhance market access.
  • Digital Economy: With increasing internet penetration and mobile phone use, the digital economy in Africa is expanding rapidly, offering opportunities in fintech, e-commerce, and digital services.
  • Circular Economy: Embracing recycling, waste management, and creating value from waste products can lead to sustainable growth and new business models.
  • Market Expansion: Exploring the growing consumer market in Africa, which already surpasses Europe in population, offers substantial opportunities for Dutch companies.

Tips for Entrepreneurs

Núria concluded her presentation with valuable advice for entrepreneurs looking to enter the African market:

  • Collaboration: Expand your network and collaborate with diverse partners. NABC has 200 engaged members actively present on the African continent with extensive knowledge and experience..
  • Understanding Partners: Build strong relationships by understanding your business partners’ perspectives and needs.
  • Impact: Recognise the impact of business activities; from the macro-level down to the micro-level.

The “Growing Across the Border 2024” seminar highlighted the immense economic potential and opportunities for collaboration between Dutch and African businesses. The NABC is excited to continue facilitating these opportunities, fostering sustainable growth and mutual prosperity.