West Africa Nations
West Africa nations are racing ahead of their Central African counterparts in deepening economic integration and slashing red tape to open up regional business opportunities, a private equity fund manager said.
Patrice Backer, chief operating officer for Advanced Finance and Investment Group (AFIG), said his $72 million fund was invested in finance, mining and agricultural services in the small but rapidly growing economies along Africa's Atlantic Coast.
Backer said he was seeing changes in the perception in Francophone Africa that private equity was an "Anglo-Saxon" business but more understanding was needed of how the industry could fund firms keen to grow but starved of credit by banks.
AFIG has committed its fund to seven investments ranging from a mining services company in Mauritania and banking in Chad, Liberia and Rwanda, to a Senegalese bus-maker and an agriculture firm serving cocoa growers in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
While Francophone nations in West and Central Africa share currencies and a common business law, West Africa had made more progress in freeing up movement of people and goods, he said.
Ghana is considered to be one of the most stable, peaceful and democratic countries in Africa. With steady governance and economic development, Ghana is something of a leading light in the African continent.
Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world at the moment. Growth is forecast at 7.9 percent. That’s almost three times as fast as UK, US and other leading European economies.
We’re helping Scottish companies break into the Ghanian market and other countries across the continent.
In the last two years we've supported 23 Scottish companies on successful trade missions to Ghana, including oil and gas services company Intervention Rentals.
Other Scottish companies already established locally in the energy sector include Weir Minerals, MSIS, Dominion, Enermech and Global Energy. However, significant prospects extend beyond oil and gas for Scottish companies.
- Infrastructure construction projects
- Information technology
- Food and drink
Mackay Smith, SDI’s Paris-based Regional Manager for Benelux, Southern Europe and Africa is a strong believer in Africa’s huge potential.
“Although the continent is vast with 54 countries”, says Mackay “we're currently focusing on the 10 countries where we think there are most opportunities for Scottish companies. And ones we can help them get a foothold in.”
“There’s a perception that it’s difficult to do business in Africa – our experience shows that’s not the case. When talking to Scottish companies there we find them to be very upbeat, very positive about the market and looking to do more business there.”
“Since Scotland has world-class expertise in the oil and gas industry, it makes sense for Scottish companies to target what is now the West African centre of operations for many players in that sector.”