How to use your embassy to find projects to invest?

Finding a business opportunity to invest in Africa is not complicated, especially in the following fields: infrastructure development, energy, construction and telecoms. If you have no leads, hereunder is a list and best practices to find your new investment opportunity relying on the services provided by your national embassy.

Embassies are not only institutions aiming at providing administrative services for their expatriates, they are also mandated to develop commercial relationships with their host country.
In the past few years, the development of European, American and other Western diplomatic representations have increased across the continent.

In every major economic African country such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya (just to name a few), you will always find diplomatic services in charge of supporting local trade development. In some cases, secondary-tier countries will be covered through a central diplomatic representation based on a major capital city serving all the sub-region they are assigned to.
Using the services of an embassy can be a lengthy process and sometimes frustrating. Nevertheless, they shall be your first entry point into a new market territory.

How to best utilize the services of your embassy to find projects for your investments?

Reach out to your embassy

The first step is to contact your embassy. You will be then contacted either by the appropriate local service of the embassy or the headquarter of the services in charge of foreign trade in your national country.
Contacting foreign embassies is a great source of information for many local African businesses and project owners and a way to find suitable business partners. Local business owners and diplomats will very often gravitate in the same circle and events. Therefore, it is worth it to make yourself known by the services of your embassy and potentially find your next partner.

Register for business listings

Most embassies maintain a registry of the companies willing to export their services locally. It is a great way to be known by the local market as this list might be shared with other local organisations (Foreign trade agencies for example) and might opened new market opportunities for you.
Embassies have many cooperation agreements with services of the host country in charge of welcoming foreign investors but also foreign trade representations. If your embassy is not able to perform certain services, it will rely on their network of partners to be able to support you. Services will very often come at a cost.

Hereunder is a list of useful links to find your local embassies in Africa:

Guide of Foreign embassies in Africa:
US Embassy:
British embassies:

Be informed of local conferences
Major local business conferences will be part of your embassy’s agenda. One simple thing to do is simply asking whether or not your embassy will bring foreign companies as part of its delegation to the event. If the conference is not providing any matchmaking services, your embassy will certainly be able to help.

Attend events organised by your embassy
If you have the opportunity, attend events and other networking opportunities organised both in the country you are targeting but also in your national country by the services in charge of foreign trade.


In general, view your embassy as the best place to find relevant information. They will know everything about the market you are targeting and will be able to guide you.

Top 5 countries to do business in Africa in 2018

Africa is a dynamic goldmine for whomever wants to invest in the continent. More than ever Africa is eager to rise up and back itself up, just like President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo said : “We want to build a Ghana beyond aid” and that bold statement is true beyond Ghana’s frontiers.

On this big land, there are countries that do not look at agriculture and tourism as providential for their economy, but rely also on innovation and technology. However trying to start a business from scratch in sub-saharan Africa can be tricky and full of barriers. We listed out the countries that will make it easy for you to kickstart a business or invest.

1. Mauritius (Ranked #49 on World Bank “Ease of doing business”)


Mauritius is by far the best country to do business in Africa. Mauritius ranked 49th in world bank’s  “ ease of doing business”.  It’s economy is based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial services. The country shifted its focus toward diversifying its economy. The government added many other important sectors such as information technology and renewable energy then proceeded to make several positive reforms which has enticed foreign investors to the country.


2. Rwanda (Ranked #56 on World Bank “Ease of doing business”)

Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economy in central Africa. By 2020 the government aims to transform Rwanda from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with a middle-income status, currently 17% of the country is  urbanised, but the plan is to reach 35%. The country is really safe and corruption is almost non existent. Business registration is so fast, it would make your head spin.


3. Botswana(Ranked #71 on World Bank “Ease of doing business”)

Botswana is a politically stable country that had held 11 elections since it’s independence in 1966. The country is ranked among the world’s least corrupt countries.

Botswana is a signatory to the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and other agreements that ensure maximum security for investors.Start-up procedures; have been streamlined to 47 days since 2008. Botswana has one of the fastest growing economy rates per capita in the world and  has had the largest success in the areas of diamond and precious metal mining,  

4. South Africa(Ranked #74 on World Bank “Ease of doing business” )


South Africa is Africa’s largest economy with a GDP of 354 billion US, it’s key industries are: tourism, auto manufacturing, information and communication technology development, and mining.

According to the World Bank report which ranks South Africa 74th, the state has reduced the time and the number of documents required to export and import through its ongoing customs modernization program which has reduced export times from 30 days in 2008 to 16 days now and import times from 35 to 23 days.

5. Kenya (Ranked #92 on World Bank “Ease of doing business”)


Kenya is turning its economy towards telecommunications,transportation and energy, Google  participated to that effort in putting 700 billion us dollars into the wind power and grid infrastructure project. Kenya made starting a business easier by removing stamp duty fees required for the nominal capital.

Honorable mention to Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia who were among this year’s top 10 improvers, based on reforms undertaken.

Time to revolutionise the way we promote Africa

Sonia Galat is the CEO of Africa Business Venture. Through this blog, she is describing how her desire to learn more about her African culture led her to the creation of an online platform to support trade development in Africa.

I was born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire but raised in France. As many executives people coming from the diaspora, I wanted to participate in the new Africa and believed that my two cultures will give me an edge.

I attended all kind of conferences, seminars, galas, conferences, workshops around the world… I wanted to learn everything and to know everyone involved in the promotion of the continent. I realised quickly after all those networking events that (i) I was not more knowledgeable; (ii) that Africa was more complex than I imagined and; (iii) that most of these meetings did not lead to anything but a nice exchange of business cards and general conversations about the state of Africa. Being a legal counsel, I wanted to learn how you make a business successful in Africa and why not more businesses were jumping on the opportunities offered on the continent.

Passionate traveller as I am, I bought a ticket to what I believe is the MECCA of international trade promotion: Singapore. Within two days, I was able to meet EVERYONE that matters and saw how Singapore was present both physically (in conferences and events) and online. The most extraordinary element was that Singapore is a product and is promoted as such. Clean and efficient communication.

With this knowledge, I travelled to Africa alone with just a backpack and a book note. I visited Kenya, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa. In each location, I tested the information I received from local authorities, the welcoming and ease of starting a business in these countries. After this trip, I came back to London and did the same exercise but this time online contacting more than 20 countries; checking their websites and their information. My conclusion was that as Africans we could do better!

We are living in an era of fast communication and quick access to relevant and practical information. If some African countries are more advanced than others, the general feeling is that modern ways of communicating are underused. Getting access to conferences and trade shows is a big investment for many African countries. Representations of African countries in international tradeshows not specifically targeting Africa is very low and sometimes nonexistent.

With Africa Business Venture, I wanted to fill this gap: offering a platform for companies (i) to connect with one another; (ii) provide useful resources to make business happen and; (iii) extending invitations to African countries to use the full power of internet solutions to reach thousands of companies for the fraction of the cost of a tradeshow.

With economies at risk due to low price commodities, I am happy to see that this understanding is now shared by many countries. I believe that modernising the way investment agencies promote Africa is essential and that we still have a long way to go.


Bridging the skills gap in Nigeria

Shortage of available skills is one of the most common obstacle to overcome for many companies doing business in Nigeria. The more technical your company is, the more crucial it will be to find the right talent.

 There is no need to introduce Nigeria anymore. Located in West Africa, Nigeria is the first market of the continent and often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”. Its 182 million inhabitants, including more than 35 million young people aged between 18 to 35 years old, make it the seventh most populated country in the world with one of the largest population of young people worldwide.

Despite not being as developed as in Europe or America, the school system offers remarkable programs to attract and form the best students around the country. The best schools in Nigeria include the Warri Business School, the University of Lagos and the Kaduna Business School.

More generally, Nigerian universities and schools offer programs and majors similar to those we are familiar with: MBA, executive programs, marketing, accounting, logistics, supply chain and so on.

You will find a lot of dynamism among young populations. A larger access to internet access has enable education to reach a higher number of students and foster conditions for development giving rise to many tech startups.


As a foreign investor, how should you organize your strategy to anticipate and overcome the lack of skills?

One of the answer is given by the example provided by large extraction companies such as Agip Oil Company; Total or Chevron. Being technology based companies, they require highly trained people with engineering background to work on oil exploration sites. They have adapted a strategy common to the oil sector: close partnerships with academic centers of excellence. Conscious of the difficulties and costs associated with bringing expatriates to work in Nigeria, those companies have developed scholarship programs with the aim of detecting and training local talents. With this strategy, oil companies are able to compensate the lack of skills available by attracting, training at an early stage young students and working closely with the best universities and schools in the country.

Another element to take into consideration is the fact that over 1, 5 million students applications are received each year by the different schools and universities, whereas these institutions, all combined, can only accept 600,000 students and are outnumbered due to capacity issues and lack of funding.

Due to the shortage of skills, the competition is high among companies to retain talents. Developing relationships and network with local business schools is a great way to recruit the skills that you need.

The diaspora is the second nest for skills for many companies. As an example, the Nigerian diaspora in America represents 3,25 million people, including 115,000 medical professionals, 175,000 IT professionals, 49,500 engineers. Why is the diaspora not the main source for recruitment of local talent? The answer is simple.  Members of the diaspora often cite lack of health system, the costs of living, lack of safety, corruption and political instability as reasons for not going back to Nigeria.

While this is and remains true, Nigeria’s situation is facing a steady economic growth (7% in average since 2005). Recent studies show that 70% of African graduates in the diaspora are now considering going back to Africa. For a company, relying on the diaspora is definitely a smart choice as many obstacles faced by foreign expatriates such as cultural differences and visa will be avoided.

As many other emerging markets, addressing the skill gap is of necessity at different levels for Nigeria from developing the country to social order. Nigeria has a lot of ambition for its development. Human capital is the first investment for any country to get out of poverty.

Companies and government have a major role to play in addressing the skills gap in the country.  Partnerships between private companies and universities shall be developed with the view of (i) increasing universities capacities; (ii) identifying talents early on; and (iii) offer training opportunities and scholarship programs.

Many recruitment companies targeting the diaspora are starting to appear. It is a good trend to support as they promote relocation to the candidate’s native country or country of origin. Last but not least, the Nigerian government should provide assistance in organizing the return of the diaspora, invest massively in education and infrastructures and eradicate corruption and violence.

There is still a lot to do for Nigeria to catch up with G20 countries; however, changes are around the corner and Nigeria should benefit from its already-qualified professionals.