The third and final webinar in our AfCFTA series in partnership with the UK Department for International Trade, explored the challenges and opportunities presented by the Continental Free Trade Agreement was a resounding success. Our impressive panel, made up of Commissioner for Trade & Industry, African Union Commission, Albert Muchanga; HM Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE; Head of Research, Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank, Razia Khan; Founder of AB & David Law, David Ofosu-Dorte; and Head of Grains & Oil Seed Trade at Export Trading Group, Giles Lewis, brought all their experience and expertise to the table making for a fruitful discussion. 

Watch the footage here.

AfCFTA is a $450bn opportunity: The World Bank estimates that the successful implementation of the AfCFTA has the potential to add 450bn USD to Africa’s GDP over the next 10 years. As other nations look increasingly inwards, this is an opportunity for Africa to lead the global trade agenda.

1. Post-crisis recovery: The AfCFTA will play an important role in accelerating economic growth in the longer term and offsetting some of the economic headwinds resulting from the Covid-19 crisis, preventing permanent scarring such as widespread business closures and job losses. Governments and businesses should seize the opportunity to recover in a greener, more sustainable way.

2. Significant progress already made on standardisation and rules of origin: intent to have a ‘Made in Africa’ initiative recognised across the continent in short term future.

3. Infrastructure is key to successful trade: The African infrastructure gap (estimated at between $130 and $170bn per year) is a significant impediment to intra-African trade. Investment in infrastructure and transport linkages is much needed to support the trade framework.

4. Opportunities: Construction (to bridge the infrastructure gap), food / agribusiness, textiles and healthcare opportunities made real by AfCFTA

5. Challenges: SMEs preparedness: More work needs to be done to prepare and encourage SMEs. Surveys show that only 45% of African SMEs are ready to take advantage of the AfCFTA. In order for business of all sizes to reap the benefits of the free trade agreement, clarity, consistency and transparency are essential, as well as collaboration between both public and private sectors. The work of organisations like Invest in Africa will be vital here.

6. AfCFTA creates Economies of Scale that makes Africa a more attractive investment destination: Historically, investor appetite into Africa has been low, due in large part to market size as well as tariff and non-tariff barriers. The free trade area represents an incentive for the private sector to get involved in Africa by creating economies of scale and inspiring private capital flow. AfCFTA can turn the scale ‘on paper’ into a reality and make the opportunity worthwhile for larger investors.

7. Be patient, be persistent, be positive: The last year has shown that when we pull together we can achieve remarkable things (vaccines that used to take 10 years, ready in one year)- AfCFTA won’t be perfect from 2021 but the foundations have already been created, the political will is there, now it is up to the private and public sector to collaborate and support one another to ensure the single greatest global trade opportunity succeeds.

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Sustainability is now an imperative, but what does it actually mean and how will it impact business and policy in Africa post COVID?

Three seismic shifts have occurred over the last year bringing the ‘social contract’ between society, governments and businesses into light: the climate emergency, Covid-19, and Black Lives Matter. These three elements have come together to push sustainability to the top of the agenda for governments, individuals, and businesses alike.

Simultaneously, investors in Africa are increasingly looking for businesses with long-term strategies that have a direct, positive impact on communities and the environment. In short, the discussion around sustainability has dramatically broadened in recent months so that it is now an entry level requirement when it comes to doing business.

Leading the ESG conversation

Sustainability and ESG go hand-in-hand, and many of Africa’s investment community are laser-focused on it. Alongside the ‘E’ of environment, are the social and governance practices of African companies. These three pillars cannot be considered separately. When measured and reported, ESG builds a picture of a company’s ethics, values, leadership and behaviours for the benefit of its trading partners and other stakeholders. The investor community looks at ESG as part of its due diligence and through the historical demands of development finance, African companies have traditionally led, not lagged in this regard.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, much has been made of ESG as an indicator that ethical business is more desirable and ultimately more competitive. The pandemic has highlighted all aspects of ESG as critical, for example, businesses with more localised supply chains, lower carbon footprints and high levels of social responsibility and governance (including diversity, leadership, succession and strong business continuity plans), are much more likely to survive the pandemic and emerge resilient.

Sustainability leapfrogging

Africa has earned a reputation as the leapfrog continent when it comes to tech innovation. Could the same level of leapfrogging be possible when it comes to sustainability?

There are certainly those who think so. Reading a case study on ‘green’ cement research, I was struck by the words of Dr. Wolfram Schmidt of BAM international the leader of an initiative to investigate innovative concrete and new construction methods in Africa.

He notes “In Europe, there are numerous standards and regulations. These have many advantages, but also prevent innovations coming quickly to the market. Things are different in Africa, as the concrete industry is still relatively young. There I can sense a great enthusiasm for innovation: businesses try to bring new insights straight to construction areas. Their creativity is unbelievable. ……….. our colleagues in Africa could in future be using better and longer-lasting concretes than we are in Europe.”

Is this a clue to what Build Back Better will look like for Africa? By the end of the century, Africa will host 13 of the world’s top 20 megacities, including the top three. The role of construction in this future cannot be overplayed.

Africa’s NetZero Commitments

The climate emergency has magnified importance around the ‘E’ in ESG, both amongst the public and private sectors. Twelve African cities pledged to limit warming to 1.5 degrees at COP25, including Nairobi, Accra and Dakar. At the country level, representation was thinner, with only Ethiopia as part of the ‘Under 2’ Coalition.

Quietly momentum is building to realise the continent’s NetZero ambitions. While there remain too many African economies reliant on high carbon extractives, they are increasingly absorbing renewables into their energy mix. Encouraging signs of policy implementation has whet the appetite of financiers and encouraged a shift in funding priorities to renewable energy.

However, the investor community can only move the dial so far. For environmental progress to occur at the speed needed, more work is to be done on government policy changes and incentives. In short, until it becomes cheaper to use renewables than higher carbon emitting sources of energy, we will not see the ‘leapfrog’ progress needed. The first step is a coordinated approach between government policy, investor incentives, local needs and capabilities.

Equality at the heart of social and governance

While the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted systemic inequalities, it has also laid bare the distinct lack of black captains of industry. That rings true across the continent, where it’s difficult to point to a totem of African entrepreneurship beyond Aliko Dangote. The majority of large corporates are multi-national corporations (MNCs) or divisions of MNCs, meaning that profits are repatriated and more importantly, there is a lack of examples of genuine African success stories to inspire the next generation (by comparison, think of South Korea’s home grown MNCs, Kia, Samsung and LG).

Large, homegrown businesses create opportunities that cascade wealth, driving growth and development across generations. While these remain scarce, the racial wealth gap persists, failing to drive out external influence of foreign-owned entities and limiting capital directed to homegrown entrepreneurs, constraining their ability to scale up. This gap will continue to widen unless decisive action around access to growth finance and the cost of capital is taken.

To witness lasting progress across the continent, the young, well-qualified and aspirational workforce must be central to any development agenda. Home to the world’s youngest population, the future business landscape needs to be cast in their mould. One which suggests that younger people are more likely to work for businesses that put purpose before profit and have sustainability at the centre, rather than the periphery of its business model. Good leaders will recognise this opportunity and design their businesses accordingly, in turn demonstrating why leadership is so central to governance.

With Covid-19 turbocharging these trends and fundamental shifts in the ‘social contract’, Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog towards more sustainable business models attracting its share of the growing amount of impact investment capital available for businesses that are run with sustainability at their heart. What’s more, the sustainable development goals (SGDs) create a workable framework for the business community to sign up to and for government to prioritise in national development plans.  

In order for Africa to truly Build Back Better, we need a dramatically more coordinated approach across international investors, local businesses, DFIs, and policy makers that recognises the interrelated nature of ESG, sustainability actions and outcomes. I believe our role at Invest in Africa is vital in helping African businesses leapfrog progress towards the sustainable development goals. Collectively we have an important role to play in highlighting and coordinating the necessary changes, whilst also adding a sense of urgency, particularly to government policy and existing businesses operations.

No one organisation should be expected to achieve this alone, so I encourage others who feel they have something to contribute to share your solutions with us.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Accra, 17 November 2020 - Invest In Africa (IIA), an enterprise that accelerates the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, has been awarded Best Non-Profit Organisation by the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG), for the second year running. Now in its 31st installment, the CIMG Annual Marketing Performance Awards set the benchmark for high marketing standards in corporate Ghana.


The award recognises IIA’s efforts – which focus on improving access to skills, finance and markets to improve business sustainability, competitiveness and efficiency – over the course of 2019. Most notably, this involved growing the access to finance pillar, of which Absa Ghana and the GCB Bank were major contributors; with IIA facilitating a total of USD2.1 million in debt financing to SMEs since 2017.


Another defining feature of IIA’s 2019 efforts involved help provided to build resilience of hundreds of SMEs, including 100 SMEs within AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi Mine’s business enclave. By leveraging its extensive network, IIA develops business linkages between SMEs and larger companies, like local and multinational corporations, enhancing opportunities, improving access to finance and creating greater revenue certainty by providing security of fixed contracts.


In supporting these businesses, IIA ensures a level of compatibility between suppliers and operational standards expected by multinational companies. These Ghanaian SMEs continue to leverage these insights and knowledge to expand their client base, reducing reliance on a single corporation, and its cyclical nature.


IIA’s work in fostering business resilience has been crucial to SMEs damaged by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of a two-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation launched in July 2020, IIA is currently delivering online coaching, masterclasses and peer-to-peer sessions, while offering a repository of practical guides, which has so far helped 1,250 businesses navigate this difficult period by building immediate and long-term resilience.


The programme with Mastercard Foundation will also provide Ghanaian SMEs with one-on-one consultancy support and better business linkages for 100 Ghanaian SMEs operating in the manufacturing, agriculture, extractives and ICT sectors, to bridge supply shortfalls. These SMEs will also be supported in establishing relationships with lenders and investors.


IIA won the same award in 2018, for widening commercial opportunities for multiple SMEs – enhanced by the African Development Bank (AfDB) funded training and in-company mentoring Business Linkage Programme (BLP).


Clarence Nartey, Invest In Africa’s Country Director for Ghana, commented on the award win, “To have our efforts acknowledged for a second consecutive year is testament to the commitment of our team to transform SMEs into sustainable ventures. SMEs are often reliant on a single industry and as business disruptions have displayed this year, that can be disastrous. This is why we continue to develop their business independence and it is humbling to be recognised for this work.”

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Invest in Africa has received a commitment of $1.69 million from the Mastercard Foundation’s Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program to help 8,000 micro, small and medium sized enterprises across Ghana, Senegal and Kenya. CNBC Africa spoke to IIA Kenya Country Director, Wangechi Muriuki on how they plan to spend that money and more. This interview first featured on CNBC Africa.

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Project Development of Sangomar Field workshop was co-organised with Woodside and SIA on march, 5, 2020 at Onomo Hotel with 170 local SMEs in attendance.


The objective of the workshop was to share with the participants the followings:

  • The project development of Sangomar field with its different phases
  • Woodside’s upcoming tenders
  • SIA Timeline of local content opportunities they seek to source locally depending on existing capabilities.
  • SIA tendering process requirements and supplier qualification
  • SIA Legal and compliance aspect of the scope of their work
  • IIA’s three flagship programmes ( Access to Market, training & Finance)


The workshop shed the light on the values that IIA can bring to the IOC’s and its tier1s and local companies from Senemeca’s testimonial which illustrated the work behind the scene IIA is currently doing to support local SMEs and the importance our supplier development programmes to reinforce local capabilities to meet the international standards through our training & certification partners whom we have signed up with and have agreed to apply a discounted rate for all our SMEs registered onto the platform and to prepare local companies to be competitive.


That being said, Woodside mentioned that a series of similar project briefing with its tier1s will take place and to expect another one in April with Halliburton and Baker Hughes ( dates TBC).

Pierre Emmanuel Boulanger from SIA urged the local companies (attendees) to have a chat with its Procurement Manager, Fabrication Manager and Engineering Manager to have a better grasp of their requirements and needs for their upcoming opportunities.


By and large, the event was a true success with a great number of attendance, precisely 170 companies attended and have left the conference with valuable information and have congratulated IIA for pulling this together and as a result of that my phone is ringing off the hook for meeting requests next week.


To conclude, we would like to thank our dear Founding Members for such visibility they are giving to IIA, the trust and seamless support bestowed on us and relentless commitment to making IIA a one stop shop for the Oil and Gas industry.

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Job title: Invest in Africa -IIA- (UK)- Account Executive  
The ideal candidate will be passionate about breaking into the African business and / or international
development space.

This entry level role is for someone who is looking to build their knowledge and understanding of
working in African investment and /or development sector. Although defined by primarily important but
routine, supporting tasks the role also has great scope for someone with initiative, proactivity and a
desire to over deliver to develop it into a larger role. For example, with direct project accountability and
oversight of the marketing function.

Job purpose  
To provide important operational support to the team of project managers and senior management in
the London office of Invest in Africa. This includes being on top of all the detail of day to day reporting
and back office functions as well as coordinating with colleagues in regional (Africa) offices to ensure
efficient ways of working across all programmes and systems. The role will also require oversight for the
day to day relationship with IIAs marketing agency, including the production of presentations, case
studies and some social media / website activity.
 Duties and responsibilities  

1. Liaise with IIAs African offices/colleagues to ensure coordinated approach across IIAs key programmes
2. Produce regular reports, case studies, impact summaries for use in IIAs presentations and marketing
3. Liaise with all IIAs third party providers and suppliers to ensure all contracts competitive and up to date
4. Manage all ‘back office’ functions (Salesforce, Project Place, travel, insurance, some aspects of finance)
5. Manage relationships with marketing agency to see work is produced on brief, on time and on budget
6. Support the UK team with materials and research
7. Run and manage all IIA UK related events (approx. 3 p.a) 
8. Including the planning yearly calendar of events, guest lists, venue, media etc. 
9. Oversee content management, master contacts database and in time upkeep of the official IIA website 
10. Create and edit some marketing materials including brochures and videos
11. Create and send out the company's quarterly newsletter 
12. Manage IIA’s social media accounts through frequent posts, online promotion  

Qualifications / Experience
•    Degree level graduate, or equivalent 
•    3+ years of business experience preferable 
•    Strong written and verbal communication skills 
•    Strong organisational skills 
•    Able to work to tight deadlines on more than one task at a time (ie multitask under pressure) 
• Must have a natural tendency to take the initiative on work with a proactive mindset 

All applicants must have eligibility to work in the UK and be available to work in London as of April / May

Please send CV and short covering letter to 

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June 11, 2019, Accra: Invest in Africa (IIA), a not for profit organisation committed to creating prospering African economies, has been contracted by AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) Limited (AGAG), to enhance capacities of 100 Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Obuasi particularly, and Ghana generally. 

Under this programme IIA would provide free business advisory support to selected businesses. The Initiative is fully funded by AGAG under its Enterprise Development and Capacity Building Programme (EDCBP). AGAG’s Obuasi Mine was re-opened early this year after a four-year period of being under care and maintenance. The re-opening of the mine has been welcomed by members of the Obuasi community with excitement due to the prospects that it holds for the local economy. It is estimated that over 2000 new jobs will be created and a boost in business activities within the town is also expected to improve the livelihoods of community members.

The EDCBP forms part of AGA`s comprehensive local content strategy that ensures that to the extent possible, suppliers and other production inputs are sourced locally.  Under the programme, IIA is expected to deploy strategies aimed at building sustainable Ghanaian owned companies, which can contribute meaningfully to job creation, socio-economic growth, and in the long term, capable of being competitive in the broader market.  IIA is therefore required to equip these Ghanaian SME businesses with entrepreneurial, technical and managerial skills, improve their capacity to be competitive locally, build a solid foundation for them to compete at a higher level, prepare them to be investment ready, facilitate access to finance and business linkages for the SMEs that enables them to become  financially independent.

The Managing Director of AGAG, Mr. Eric Asubonteng, said impacting communities where AGA operates positively is in line with the company’s values.

Commenting on the contract, Mr. Clarence Nartey, Country Director of IIA expressed delight about the opportunity to work with AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine to boost the local economy of the town. “This is a real community level programme and we are excited about the impact it will have on not just the beneficiary companies but the indirect employment opportunities that would be created for the residents as well.”

He noted that it is an opportunity to develop SMEs to fit into AGAG’s supply chain and for the SME’s to be more competitive. “We intend to open up our African Partner Pool (APP) platform to the beneficiaries and help facilitate additional business for them. Those with the required capacity to do business with the about 12 multinational organisations on the APP will be given that opportunity”, Mr. Nartey stated.

The contract, which starts from August this year, will be for an initial one year but with potential for an extension. Shortlisting of beneficiary SMEs, who will be drawn from AGA’s supplier list, is currently under way.  END.

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