The business opportunities opening up in Africa offer new possibilities for Finnish companies. Finpro has compiled details on future phenomena in Africa for the use of Finnish companies, providing a new perspective on business on the continent. Opportunities are opening up for Finnish companies in areas as diverse as climate change and the global food crisis.
“The possibility of a solution to the global food crisis is not the first thing that comes to mind in connection with Africa. Nonetheless, 60 per cent of the world’s unused cultivable land is in Africa and the climate is conducive to farming,” states Seppo Keränen, Head of Finpro’s Region Africa.
The changing use of Africa’s natural resources and improvement of the efficiency of food production form part of Finpro’s Foresight phenomena and related business opportunities.
“The intention is not to predict the future but to help Finnish companies prepare for future opportunities and focus their work, putting them in the right place at the right time with the right offering. Of course, we also want to encourage companies to look at Africa in a new light and to find out about the opportunities on offer across the continent,” says Keränen.
“For Finnish expertise, the continent’s most interesting sectors are ICT, the mining industry, agriculture and forestry, as well as energy. Of course, we should not forget more basic services, such as clean water, health care and education,” continues Keränen.
At present, about 200 Finnish companies are exporting to Africa. In addition to Egypt and South Africa, which are the most important destinations for Finnish exports to Africa, Finpro’s trade centres also work with companies in Nigeria, Kenya and Tunisia. Finpro’s Africa project analyses the opportunities on offer on the continent, whilst consulting growth companies in Finland and in target countries.
Adapting to climate change
Finnish companies that have made their mark in Africa include Vaisala, a company specializing in weather observation equipment, and Sanako, a provider of language studios.
“Vaisala has been working with several meteorological institutes in African countries for decades. Weather observation equipment is used in many different solutions, from flood forecasting systems to weather observation stations for airports. These technologies help people to prepare for and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change,” says Kenneth Hörhammer, Vaisala’s Regional Market Manager.
Discussion of the prevention of climate change has partly overshadowed the discussion about adapting to changing climate conditions. For example, the development of agriculture is inextricably linked to the warming of the climate and patterns of extreme weather.
Learning new things
“The most important trends for us in Africa include the growing significance of young people and major investments in education. The key to success is communication, and several countries have realised the significance of language training in guaranteeing future prosperity. The increase in tourism also raises the need for language training,” says Kimmo Kärpijoki, Vice President responsible for Sanako’s project sales in Africa.
Sanako has sold language studios and language teaching programmes in several African countries. Africa’s rapid urbanization is an important factor in determining trends in education. By 2020, every second African is will live in a city.