Interview Guy Gweth “Before the AfCFTA, investors were already approaching Africa, in sub-regional blocks”
Founder of the African Center for Economic Intelligence and Intelligence (CAVIE), present in 38 countries and particularly in Africa, Guy Gweth trains in the subtleties of African markets and provides companies and investors with “on-the-ground” surveys. In this interview, he assesses the attractiveness of the African continent in a context of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, but also the entry into activity of the AfCFTA.
Interview by DBM
Guy Gweth, you’re presented as the economic intelligence specialist in Africa. An expertise you put at the service of the continent, through the African Center for Economic Intelligence and Intelligence (CAVIE). Tell us a bit more about this structure and its activities?
The CAVIE embodies the eyes and the ears, the sword and the shield, economic actors eager to be ultra competitive in African markets, wrought by the harshness of competition, corruption, red tape and judicial insecurity, among others. As such, CAVIE is the privileged interlocutor of companies wishing to protect their heritage, to conquer foreign markets and to influence public decision-making. It is the benchmark pan-African institution in training and certification in business intelligence and intelligence in Africa. As I speak to you, the Center is represented in 38 countries.
Since its creation, CAVIE has offered conferences and specialized training, the creation of turnkey monitoring units, the establishment of economic intelligence systems adapted to States, companies, NGOs and major schools on the continent. In doing so, the Center promotes good business intelligence and intelligence practices in Africa and their implications for the region’s competitiveness. At their request, CAVIE also assists States in defining their economic diplomacy, particularly in the creation of country brands. It also helps African companies to develop a corporate diplomacy enabling them to concretely assert their identity, increase their competitiveness and effectively defend their interests with the public authorities and elected officials.
Since January 1, 2021, you are also the representative of the Federation of German SMEs (BVMW) in Benin, Cameroon, Togo and Gabon. What is your mission?
My mission is, on the one hand, to restore its leadership to “Made in Germany” in Africa and on the other hand to increase the presence of African economic operators in Germany. Carried out according to German values of rigor and performance, this work is backed by solid partnerships to be forged between players who have been the subject of in-depth investigations and have a fair knowledge of the target markets.
This is the place to remember that BVMW, the largest German federal association of SMEs, which I represent, was founded 45 years ago. It brings together over 900,000 members through the Mittelstand Alliance, 300 local representatives across Germany, 60 offices worldwide and over 2,000 regional events per year. In addition to lobbying, the BVMW offers a qualified networking platform.
I accepted to represent the German Mittelstand in Africa because it brings with it the efficiency of short decision-making circuits and rapid decision-making processes in a fast-paced environment. Because German SMEs have a capacity for resilience and foresight, such that they have everything to become champions in African markets in the next 10 to 20 years. Because they are long-term, their rooting in the regions where they are established can only make a lasting contribution to the long-awaited emergence of Africa.
You thus participate in making African markets more accessible and in demystifying the risks. What is the trend, in this context of the Covid-19 crisis, but also the entry into activity of the AfCFTA. Are international investors already positioning themselves on this continental market?
We are more than crossing our fingers. We are taking action to ensure that the advent of the AfCFTA spurs a movement of unprecedented scale for investment in Africa. This requires in particular our ability to methodically distinguish between perceived risks and real risks because most international investors have understood that Africa is the new frontier of global growth and they need insurance to come to the markets. tropical. We have a duty to be transparent and generate solutions to constraints.
It is interesting to note that before the advent of AfCFTA, some foreign investors had already started to dream and approach African markets from the perspective of sub-regional blocs. For example, when we accompanied them to Cameroon, they projected themselves in Central Africa. Ditto for Nigeria, where they had all of West Africa in the background. Some therefore thought of the AfCFTA, before its entry into force, and all legal signals show that this dynamic will accelerate thanks to the new bridges opened since January 1, 2021.
This is telling you that it is our imperative responsibility to work to make Africa the primary beneficiary of its own market, other than through good wishes … And it is not won! Because there are still nationalist, even populist resurgences, a corrupt bureaucracy at border and customs posts, pernicious forms of protectionism to be dealt with here and there. It will be a long process, with a lot of work to be done to transform mentalities, so that Africans agree to win together and united, in the long term, in Africa and on international markets.
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