Doing Business in East-Africa: FoodTechAfrica is transforming the aquaculture sector
A consortium of 13 Dutch and Eastern-African companies under the name of ‘FoodTechAfrica’ is transforming the aquaculture sector in the East-Africa region through their innovative approach. By developing the entire value chain, from the fish feed and the fish production system to the training of local partners and fish farmers, they aspire to advance the local agro sector and increase the production of sustainable and healthy farmed fish. After successfully starting in Kenya in 2013, they are now looking to expand further in the region.
During his latest visit to Dar es Salaam, we had the opportunity to talk about the challenges and opportunities in doing business in East-Africa with Menno Morenc, project manager FoodTechAfrica with Larive International.
Which opportunities do you identify for investing in East-Africa?
Investment in animal protein production offers significant opportunities in the light of a rapidly growing population and rising income in the region. These two dynamics generate a growing demand for animal protein. In particular, fish production (aquaculture) may fill this gap. It can be grown on land and is an efficient form of livestock, needing a limited amount of feed to grow.
How important are local partners for doing business in East-Africa?
Very important. We do not work without local partners, as they know how the local economy works much better than we ever will. For example on how the market works, how to arrange land and inputs, how to hire personnel and so forth. Local partners have a local network which is indispensable for setting up a business.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered while doing business in East-Africa?
It is challenging to recruit technical personnel with practical experience. There are universities offering theoretical training courses, but these students need to be trained extensively during internships and after graduating.
As well, dependable and affordable electricity supply is an issue all over East Africa.
Which cultural differences have you encountered while doing business in this region?
Communication in Kenya and Uganda is much easier as people have a good schooling in the English language.
How has the Embassy been able to assist you in your business in East-Africa?
The Embassy has been very helpful in organizing a visit program to the Embassy in Tanzania in December 2017. We had four consecutive meetings which were all relevant and thoroughly planned. In particular, we would like to thank Theresia Mcha, Tim de Kruiff and Ingrid Korving for their support.
Between the countries in the region, do you see differences in doing business and the business climate?
Yes, they are all very different. Kenya is perhaps the most open to international business of the four we have been doing business in (Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda) but the other three are making vast efforts to improve the business climate and are definitely improving.
Which partners and institutions have been instrumental so far in doing business in East-Africa?
First and foremost the Embassies in the four countries. Throughout the years, we have been welcomed warmly by all embassies and received great support.
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