On March 7, WTC San Diego in partnership with Tendy LLC hosted a roundtable event which facilitated proactive conversations between business executives from San Diego’s innovation economy and representatives from the Consulates General of Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zambia. Discussions centered around opportunities and innovations within the healthcare, energy, infrastructure, mobility, and tourism sectors, as well as ways in which each region could grow and improve upon their economic development strategies. This event, a first of its kind here in SD, is a follow-up to a similar event organized by Tendy LLC in New York City, during UN General Assembly Week, with the goal of demystifying what it means to do business in various African countries, educating businesses and organizations on the opportunities present and growing in these nations, and facilitating a venue through which partnerships and deal flow can be established. Takeda Research, the premiere biotech-like research center for the Japan-based pharmaceutical company, hosted this event which drew attendees from local companies and organizations such as Cleantech San Diego, the City of San Diego, UC San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, FoxFury Lighting Solutions, PKL Services, IPS Group Inc, and Viasat.
In the healthcare and medical roundtable Zambia’s Honorary Consul, Robert Sichinga, noted that countries are seeking committed, long-term international partnerships. In the past, large companies have come in, conducted their study, helped a limited number of individuals from the hosting country, and departed. The hope is that in the future, these companies look for more long-lasting, sustainable, relationships to truly increase the availability and efficiency of modern medicine on the continent, while also allowing for knowledge transfer, training, and education of local populations, as well as potential job increases.
According to the Ethiopian investment agency, foreign direct investment is booming in the East African country. This is primarily a result of its increased focus on manufacturing and agriculture. As trade frameworks such as AGOA emerge and receive resounding support from African nations, countries are realizing a renewed energy and focus on inter-African trade as well as increasing their partnerships with other trading blocks to boost investments in agriculture, agri-processing, transportation infrastructure, and renewable energy.
Like anywhere else, life in Africa is not without challenges. In 2014, the World Bank estimated that nearly 600 million people were without electricity. Access to clean water and medical care also remains an issue. However, with challenges come great opportunities for innovation, change, and collaboration. The CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions, Mario Cugini, provided the delegates with a demonstration of how products such as its scene lights—high intensity, highly functioning LED lights which could greatly aid hospitals and operating rooms and other critical infrastructure whose efficacy is reduced by unreliable power supplies. The potential for such lighting applications is endless in sectors such as wildlife management, first responder/emergency operations, healthcare, infrastructure and construction. IPS Group, the leader in smart meter technology and implementation, was also on hand for a joint conversation with Viasat around how investments in solar energy, wireless infrastructure, and banking solutions are all imperative to taking their technology abroad.
For more information on how you can tap into business opportunities within the African continent, please contact Lucas Coleman at the World Trade Center San Diego.
The image above is from the roundtable. Pictured Back L to R: John Reeves (Viasat), Robert Sichinga (HonConZambia), Oscar Adley (PKL), Berthran Ugeh (Tendy LLC), Cem Hacioglu (West African LNG Group), David Pasquini (UK Gov’t Office SD), Erik Caldwell (City of San Diego), Blake Erickson (unaffiliated); Middle: Hilda Mwangi (WTC San Diego at time of picture), Brian Webber (IPS Group Inc), Kimberly Robling (PKL Services), Valerie Achieng (UCSD MBA Student), Mario Cugini (FoxFury); Bottom: Shakira Motan (South African Consulate Chicago), Betelehem Abera Haile (Ethiopian Consulate Los Angeles), Muktar Mohammed Ware (Ethiopian Consulate Los Angeles), Patience Onyegbule (Kaiser), Runa Tarannum ( self employed consultant)