News & Updates

Japan-Africa Business Forum, official side event of TICAD7:Twenty pre-eminent business leaders to share their experience doing business in Africa

Aug 06, 2019

Insight into building a successful business in the African market

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) will host the Japan-Africa Business Forum (venue: Queen’s Grand Ballroom, Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu) on August 29, 2019. This is an official side event of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) to be held in Yokohama, August 28-30, 2019.

The event will feature a line-up of 20 business executives from Japanese, African and other international companies with operations in Africa. Speakers include Mr. Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s foremost investors and philanthropists, and Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, which has an extensive network spanning over 100 cities (including 60 African cities). The forum will focus on “African Innovation & Start-ups” and “Multilateral Business Partnership.”

With attention increasing on Africa as an exciting new growth market, competition is intensifying as companies from developing countries come to the forefront of business. Against this background, our speakers will explore new areas and approaches to doing business in Africa, offering insight and encouragement to help Japanese companies expand successfully in this market.

In addition, a special session, “Japanese SME Showcase,” will be held on August 30 (venue: PACIFICO Yokohama, Exhibition Hall B; 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm). This session focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are looking to develop their business in Africa by leveraging products and technologies that are unique to Japanese SMEs. Delegations from Africa searching for specific technologies yet to be introduced to their countries are welcome to attend.

Registration for the Business Forum (including the special session) is from July 29 via the JETRO website. Anyone with an interest in African business is invited to attend.

JETRO Website "Japan-Africa Business Forum & EXPO"

Outline of Japan-Africa Business Forum

  1. Date: August 29, 2019 (Thursday) 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  2. Venue: Queen’s Grand Ballroom, Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu (B2)
  3. Organized by: JETRO
  4. Co-organized by: Japan Business Council for Africa
  5. Supported by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan

Overview of sessions

Thematic Session I: African Innovation & Start-ups
Although Africa offers huge commercial opportunity, it tends to be perceived as a difficult market to enter because of the limited availability of consumer data. However, many emerging start-ups are adapting the latest technology to their own markets to create new business models and are successfully accumulating valuable customer data via platforms such as payment systems. In this session, we explore industry trends and business models relating to leading African venture capital companies and start-ups and review the growth opportunities for Japanese companies and the potential for them to collaborate with local start-ups. We also discuss the track record and outlook for Japanese companies who have invested in African start-ups.
Thematic Session II: Multilateral Business Partnership
Although Japanese companies expanded actively across a range of sectors in Africa in the 1970s, many of them ended up pulling out of certain countries because of political uncertainty and the deteriorating economic climate. This resulted in a loss of the knowhow and expertise accumulated by them. European companies, on the other hand, particularly those from the UK and France, have actively looked to strengthen and expand their business bases across Africa through leveraging political and economic relationships which have been developed on a long-term view. Companies in developing economies such as China, India and Turkey, as well as in African nations such as South Africa and Morocco, are also aggressively expanding to take away a share from the European companies.
Against this background, we review how Japanese companies can successfully develop their business in Africa and consider collaboration with foreign companies as a route to growth. Our panel is made up of leading business executives from companies in six countries* with successful operations in Africa and looks at their approach to business and risk management in Africa. We also discuss the results and experiences of Japanese companies who have linked up with foreign partners in Africa.
* Cote d'Ivoire, Turkey, India, Britain, France and the United States.

Special Session: Japanese SME Showcase

  1. Date: August 30, 2019 (Friday) 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  2. Venue: PACIFICO Yokohama, Exhibition Hall B (Seminar Room B02)
  3. Organized by: JETRO

Africa is not just a specialty market for large corporations but is also a vibrant area of opportunity for SMEs looking to diversify revenues and maximize profit. Africa’s economic development and the growth of its local companies mean there is an increasing number of attractive partners available for Japanese SMEs. In addition, as African companies become increasingly interested in Japanese SMEs’ expert technological capabilities, new growth opportunities for Japanese SMEs are steadily appearing.
In this session we introduce eight SMEs with unique products and services looking to expand in the African market, with a focus on four key sectors: healthcare, agribusiness, infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies.

Industry and Business Development Support Division
(PIC: Mr. Takahashi, Ms. Yabunaka, Mr. Yamada)
Tel: 03-3582-5170