Sub-Saharan Africa Workshop at METEC 2019

African and German delegates discuss market potential in Africa.

The METEC Sub-Saharan Africa Workshop took place for the first time on June 26th, 2019 during the METEC/GMTN trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. Key players from Africa and Germany exchanged ideas on how to do business in Africa. The workshop focused on the challenges and opportunities of the African metallurgy market.

Speakers from a variety of African and European countries and companies were invited to hold presentations and participate in panel discussions thus giving the international audience an excellent insight into the African markets. The workshop took place for the first time on June 26th, 2019 during the METEC trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was initiated and organised by africon GmbH in close cooperation with Messe Düsseldorf and The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association in Germany (VDMA) represented by Dr. Timo Würz, Managing Director of VDMA Metallurgy. More than 50 attendees participated in the high-level workshop.

The event was characterised by an open and lively exchange between all participants and panellists. Opinions were exchanged, similar and differing ones debated, and many conclusions drawn. Several key challenges not only to European firms, but to African nations and industries were identified.

The following recommendations arose:

1. European firms should consider Africa as a market. Although often small and sometimes
challenging, some African markets can be very profitable and provide huge long-term growth
opportunities. Many Africans already appreciate European quality
2. International firms have to understand that Africa is a huge and diverse continent. Especially
smaller firms will not be able to deal with all countries at once. Clear priority countries have to
be defined early on
3. Skills are a critical bottleneck. Training and education for staff is a key to success.
Organisations like the German VDMA are in a position to support here as well
4. Providing adequate aftersales service is key for EU machine suppliers to African customers. To
achieve this at reasonable costs, teaming up with other suppliers or utilising locally present external service providers can be beneficial. Creating service hubs in certain countries can be equally helpful. For example, Kenya can be used as a hub for East Africa
5. German firms often have to show flexibility in their commercial terms and conditions, as well as showcase cultural understanding for the other involved parties
6. German firms wherever possible have to check on their pricing models as this is still a huge issue. In that context, modular/scalable solutions are often highly appreciated. Offering German solutions made in lower cost countries like India can be interesting entry level options as well

African delegates that attended the workshop were from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa.

Eds Comment: As I said in the August 2019 issue of Castings SA the belief that South Africa is the only country on the African continent that the rest of the world focuses on must be dismissed. The honeymoon period for South Africa is over. The Government, from the State President down, needs to take note. What is happening in our country at the moment with regard to our fellow Africans is very disappointing (an understatement). The rest of the world has lost patience and has begun exploring other countries in Africa to invest in. This workshop is just one of many examples.