Business in Southern African markets
An impossible market with many challenges and only little returns if any? Not quite right! The Southern African Development Community (SADC) area offers various business opportunities for growing Central Baltic companies working in the maritime cluster. And these markets do also offer returns to persistent and optimistic SMEs.
The gross domestic product (GDP) growth in SADC countries, consisting of an area of 300 million consumers, is predicted to be 2,2% annually. Especially technologies improving port efficiency as well as cleantech and automation solutions are in high demand, in addition to vocational training and overall capacity building of human resources in ports. Circular economy innovations are of importance when creating environmentally sustainable ports and when preventing environmental problems persistent in many SADC countries today. The competition in many SADC countries is still low and many member countries are eager to cooperate with potential European partners. Maritime cluster SMEs from Central Baltic area may be those responding to the need in the future.
When it comes to business, Namibia is geographically in a focal position. For example, the ongoing expansion project of the port of Walvis Bay enables it to open routes to South Africa, Mozambique and Angola as well as to landlocked Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The port receives approximately 3000 calls each year and handles about 5 million tonnes of cargo annually. The port industry in the country requires efficient technologies.
The Central Baltic Interreg funded project SME Aisle (2018-2021) aims at supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the themes of maritime and logistics, renewable energy, automation, shipbuilding and ICT. Support is provided in SME export activities to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) using Namibia as a stable entry-point. The project team consist of experts from various fields such as maritime, technology, business and social sciences from Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. The lead partner Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) has over six years of experience in cooperating with the wide array of stakeholders in Namibia.
The key focus of the project is on practical activities: these
activities include business trips to target markets, such as to Namibia, South
Africa, and Zambia, seminars, workshops and studies of the business
environment. The project also aims at breaking persistent belief of an “impossible
business environment” through personalized coaching of the potential companies.
Of course, the SADC market requires patience and commitment as well as reliable
local business partners. However, even during its first year, the project has
provided some initial success stories.
One of the most significant activities in the project was the business trip to Namibia and South Africa in Fall 2018. During the trip, altogether 15 SMEs visited the market environment and local business opportunities. In addition, the project team represented the companies in South Africa. The highlight of the three weeks trip was the Doing business through SME Aisle seminar, which collected a wide variety of key actors in Namibia all the way from start-up companies to the ministry level actors and business support organizations. Altogether the team and the companies met over 150 stakeholders. More about the trip: https://www.samk.fi/en/uutiset/the-growing-southern-african-market-offers-opportunities-for-central-baltic-smes/
The next business trip will be organized in April 2019
and is open to Central Baltic area operating companies.
Project SME Aisle
Funding: EU: Interreg Central Baltic Program
Duration: March 2018 – August 2021
Total budget: 1 731 850,31 EUR
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences SAMK (Finland)
Prizztech Oy (Finland)
Tallinn University of Technology / Estonian Maritime Academy (Estonia)
Association of Mechanical Engineering and Metalworking Industries of Latvia (Latvia)
Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Latvia)
Satakunta Chamber of Commerce (Finland)
Swedish Wind Power Association (Sweden)
Text by: Nina Savela, project researcher, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK)
Pictures: Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Jeffrey Salahub & Heikki Koivisto