Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, November 23, 2012

Forum for Africa's business leaders

Donald Kaberuka, President of 
The African Development Bank
20-21 November. Geneva. Forum for Africa's business leaders held by Groupe Jeune Afrique in partnership with the AfDB. 560 delegates from 32 countries, including more than 300 leaders of major private African enterprises. Approximately 100 investors and financiers, among the most influential in Africa, as well dignitaries from Africa and the rest of the world, attended the event.

Nine thematic conferences, offered ready-made toolkits for CEOs on the latest management trends: international development strategy, access to capital, regional integration, public-private sector dialogue, an in-depth explanation of the legal environment, as well as skills management.

Though the private sector is growing fast, government remains a much more preponderant force. Though it is perhaps not as onerous as the permit system of India's 'Licence Raj,' there are many regulatory hurdles and opportunities for shakedowns. SIFCA in Côte d'Ivoire employs 28,000 workers in the agribusiness sector. CEO Jean-Louis Billon makes his complaints clear: "We are overtaxed, we put up with poor infrastructure and then we have to be competitive on price in the global market!"

Patricia Ithau, managing director of L'Oreal East Africa, says: "Increasingly as industries you have to start lobbying the government to improve efficiency." For a consumer goods company like L'Oreal, trademark protection is a critical issue. "Africa is full of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur's idea is 'I see a gap, I fill it,' even if that gap is not necessarily legal," says Ithau. She says that governments need to create punitive laws and enforce them.

Kenya's beauty industry is estimated to be worth more than 13 billion Ksh, but the sector remains less focused on. ABN's Ken Karuri spoke to Patricia Ithau, MD L'Oreal East Africa on what prompted the company's entry into the EA Market.

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