Top African conferences to attend in 2018

For entrepreneurs, conferences are the ultimate platform for networking. You can meet so many people who might share the same interest as you. And who knows, you might even get amazing business ideas for your venture in Africa.

This is how you build your tribe.

And if you are thinking of exploring the African market then here’s a list of top African business conferences that you shouldn’t miss in 2018:

  1. Blockchain Africa Conference 2018, Johannesburg

The blockchain technology is changing the way organisations do business and the way information is exchanged. More and more organisations and start-ups are now exploring this technology to revolutionise their transaction operators and trying out new ways of transactions. And the fourth annual Blockchain Africa Conference is an event that no entrepreneur should miss. This event is going to be held in Johannesburg in March. It is attended by CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, and financial service professionals from all over the globe.

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  1. Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), Washington D.C

This is a biennial business conference held in June 2018. The aim of this conference is to promote international trade between Africa and other Asian, EU, Caribbean, and the Americas. It also fosters FDI opportunities in Africa and is a platform for businesses who want to venture into African nations. The conference is attended by high-profile delegates from more than 70 countries, including government officials from African and other nations. Many international investors and project developers also eye this conference as a doorway to the African market. The event will be organised in Washington, D.C.

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  1. Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit, Kenya

This event brings together the key decision-maker, stakeholders, regional governments, UN agencies, and agricultural experts. This is a platform for discussing and exchanging ideas on sustainable agricultural practices and discovering agricultural innovations. Connect with the top agricultural professionals from all across the globe.

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  1. HBS Africa Business Conference 2018, Boston

This would be the 20th edition of HBS Africa Business Conference and will be mainly focusing on the business opportunities in Africa and the development that’s undergoing throughout the continent. This is a platform for a global exchange of dialogue between the African nations and the rest of the world and for initiating discussions on the scope of Africa as a potential hub for investment.

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  1. Africa Energy Forum, Mauritius

This forum is a platform for the meeting of key players from in infrastructure, energy, and power sectors. This event attracts policy makers, regulators, fund managers, consultants from all over the world.

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  1. Africa CEO Forum

This international event brings together investors, leaders, journalists, and policymakers from over 70 countries in the world. This is one of the biggest annual meetings of the African private sector. This event is attended by over 1200 delegates and is alternately held in Africa and Geneva. In 2018, the event will be held in Abidjan in West Africa. This is a unique platform that’s dedicated to the business leaders to engage in thought-provoking discussions, providing excellent networking opportunities. If you are someone who is looking forward to promoting your business in Africa and want to learn the best business practices, this is a conference that you must attend.

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How to enter African markets with confidence?

With a host of expanding economies and ongoing development projects in Africa, investing in this continent is a tempting idea and it is more enticing if your business is doing pretty well in your local or regional market. When it comes to breaking into a new market, especially Africa, a look-before-you-leap approach works best.

If you have some ambitions to go international and expand your business in Africa, in this blog post, we are sharing the secrets of entering new and emerging markets with confidence.

  1. Select the right country

With 54 countries, deciding which country to select for an export project is a daunting task. Nevertheless, here are some ideas to help you structure your project:

  • What is exactly your product?

Depending on the level of sophistication of your product, you may want to classify the potential markets according to the level of maturity of the customer markets and its size.

  • Look regionally

Because the size of the African markets is relatively small, adopt a regional approach for your export products. Africa is divided into several trade regions:

  3. East African Community
  6. IGAD
  7. SADC
  8. UMA

These regional blocs aim to reduce barriers entries for products and align trade policies. When exporting your product or services, take into consideration the region of export of your product and take benefits of the regional agreements to reach neighbouring countries.

  • The Language

Do not under-estimate the language and cultural barriers. You should look at your internal resources from a language perspective to determine where you would like to start. You might need the services of a translator to help you with your admin papers. It is likely that your embassy in the country offer such a service or is able to recommend the services of a good translator.

  1. Test before you roll out

The idea is to sell directly to the market where you are trying to enter. For instance, if you are targeting a country in Africa, then you can get your product into the stores in that country and then see how things go. You can get a reliable local distributor or agent as they have more contacts than you. Be realistic with your objectives. This is an opportunity to develop your network as said earlier potential customer markets are smaller than in Western countries.

  1. Find distributors

The easiest way to reach success is to develop partnerships and joint ventures with local distributors. They know the markets and know how to position your brand. Invest in developing your network and provide marketing, operational support to your distributor.

There are several resources you can use to find a local distributor for your products:

Ways to Cap is a market place connecting prospective buyers and sellers in Africa;

Alibaba, the popular website is undeniably a source to find potential buyers for your products.

  1. Travel locally

The best way to know a country is by visiting that place. And if you are travelling to Africa for the first time, you may:

  • Contact the embassy
  • Contact the Foreign Trade Chamber of Commerce in your country. They support businesses both in your country and in Africa.
  • Enrol on a trade mission organised by your government and other trade organisations.
  • Attend business conference in the continent (for building networks).
  1. Seek Help

When venturing into Africa, know that you will never be short of support. Look at business platforms such as Africa Business Venture or other facilitation services platform.

You will need the following support if you are serious about your export venture:

  • A local business developer to help you establish a local network a strong footing
  • A lawyer to help you deal with tax and regulatory issues related your business
  • Market researcher for verifying your assumptions

No matter the country in the world you want to export your products or services, exporting is a huge investments for companies. Seeking support can be costly but our experience show that companies with the highest return are companies that did not rush their export project but instead took their time to fully understand the realities of the local markets.