Doing Business in Sub-Saharan Africa
June 3, 2019
Candice Appiakorang, Public Affairs Specialist in our Office of Public Affairs, recently caught up with Tamarind Murrietta, ITA’s Senior Commercial Officer at U.S. Embassy Maputo in Mozambique to discuss how her and the team help U.S. companies access the burgeoning commercial opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Keep reading to find out how ITA promotes greater economic engagement in this important region.
Tammy, I appreciate you taking the time to shed some light on the Sub-Saharan African business environment. First, what are the main opportunities for U.S. firms in the region?
Thank you, Candice, for the opportunity to tell you about all the great work we’re doing here in Mozambique and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This region is home to nearly a billion people, abundant national resources, several growing economies, and is taking steps towards creating a single market via the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The United States currently maintains roughly $40 billion in trade with these countries and we aim to increase that figure. It is an exciting time to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa and U.S. companies are well-placed to tap into opportunities in an array of sectors, including energy, healthcare, infrastructure, and ICT.
You’ve mentioned the opportunities, but what are some of the challenges?
While each market is different, there are a few common barriers companies encounter in the region, including a lack of transparency and predictability in regulations and government procurements, cumbersome decision-making, corruption, low access to credit, and weak infrastructure.
What resources do you have to assist companies in the market?
We maintain a vast network of commercial diplomats and trade specialists across the continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we have offices in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and the African Development Bank in the Ivory Coast. In other countries in which we do not have a local presence, we work closely with the U.S. State Department to assist companies in those countries via a “partnership post” arrangement.
Utilizing this network, we offer a wide range of services for companies looking to enter any of the markets in the region. We can help in every phase of the exporting process, from providing market intelligence to identifying potential foreign buyers or distributors. Working with our Advocacy Center, we can promote a firm’s bid for government tenders and once a company is in the market, we can assist in removing any trade barriers they face. This is just a brief snapshot of what we can do for our U.S. company clients.
That is an impressive array of services you can provide companies interested in this region. What events do you have coming up that can better acquaint U.S. firms with these aforementioned opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa?
We have a lot of exciting programs in the pipeline and we just supported U.S. company participation in Africa Utility Week events (May 12-14) in Cape Town, South Africa, and the USA Trade Fair in Nigeria (May 21-23). Right now, we are focusing much of our efforts on collaborating with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) on the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, which will take place June 18-21 here in Maputo, Mozambique. This event will bring together a host of high-level government and private sector officials from the United States and across the continent. We are also organizing a Discover Global Markets (DGM) event in Houston, Texas, from September 30-October 2, that will highlight the energy and infrastructure sectors in the Middle East and Africa. There, attendees will uncover new exporting opportunities, learn from seasoned exporters, and connect with hundreds of networking contacts.
Wow, you have a lot going on. Thanks so much, Tammy, for speaking with me. If a business is interested in learning more, where would you suggest they go?
If you are interested in participating in the U.S.-Africa Business Summit:
If you are interested in the Discover Global Markets “Powering & Building the Middle East & Africa” event: https://live.eventtia.com/en/middleeastafrica/Home/
For market information and contacts at our respective offices in Sub-Saharan Africa:
South Africa: https://2016.export.gov/southafrica/
African Development Bank: https://2016.export.gov/afdb/