Research conducted by Walid Eladi, Egyptian National and Masters Student, University of Stirling.
After 2 years working with Scottish companies and learning of their ambitions for new global markets, Africa Scotland Business Network has observed that many companies have put Africa on their agenda for export or expansion opportunities. However, it is also evident, that Africa as a continent is still not clearly understood by Scottish business people.
The online research conducted and survey with 35 Scottish organizations revealed the following:
- Most Scottish organizations are willing to start new investment or grow the ongoing one with the African countries.
- Almost all the participants are trading internationally and around half of them are currently trading with Africa.
- Renewable energy sector is the most attractive industry for the Scottish private sectors.
- The trade volume between Scotland and Africa is still very limited and focused on certain countries with South Africa, Kenya and Ghana being the preferred markets.
- There are some wrong misconceptions about Africa in general, for example what languages are spoken and believing political corruption is rife across the entire continent.
- The majority of the survey sample have mixed feelings about working with Africa. They value it’s potential with untapped resources ie in the green economies, however, they also believe that the poverty and political corruption impacts foreign investment.
- Most of the interested parties facing challenges and looking to grab the opportunities around trading with Africa are SMMES. Larger companies surveyed are much more conservative.
- The main threats to working with Africa are in the political sphere and lack of open resources around risk management..
Scottish private sectors should maximize the opportunity to benefit from International trade conventions and agreements between the UK and African countries such as Kenya and Ghana. Whilst searching for new market opportunities, countries should also target a few countries instead of ‘Africa’ on the whole. Businesses should also be outsourcing and employing experts who are experienced with specific African countries to ensure the correct information and route to markets are made available to them.
Consequently, the survey participants believe the Scottish government should be doing more to help businesses overcome attitudes towards African political leadership and encourage businesses to seek opportunities in the rising African private sectors.