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Project name:

Doing business in Africa – The role of the private sector for Africa’s development – participation in projects under the Horizon Europe’s Africa Initiative and/or direct cooperation with companies

Status: Idea
Creation date: 17-09-2021

Project objectives:

A research team of a German University of Applied Sciences is specialised in evidence-based research paving the way for the European private sector, especially SMEs, to successfully enter African markets, while having a positive impact on local development too. Since 2011, the research team examines all facets of private sector’s activities in Africa in a comprehensive approach, with focus on Sub-Saharan African countries.

The team would like to join consortia in the Horizon Europe’s Africa Initiative (37 topics: and/or under a research cooperation agreement with companies, in particular innovative SMEs.

Possible contribution could be:

- Uncovering business opportunities and operational approaches for African markets that simultaneously have the potential to foster Africa’s wealth development.
- Analysis of obstacles to market access and success factors for market entry and operational activities.
- Identifying or creating new profitable business models that can have an environmental and/or social impact (“double” respective “triple bottom-line”), for example in addressing the bottom of the pyramid (BoP, lowest income segments of a population), and empowering people with high-quality products and services that may improve their living standard and stimulate economic growth of African countries. A core research question therefore is: How could the European private sector profitably address the bottom of the pyramid?
- Developing specific go-to-market approaches across the whole value chain including production, logistics, marketing, sales, as well as individual business model elements such as revenue models, partner selection and cooperation.
- Accompanying set-up and roll-out of pilots with implementable business approaches.
- Exploring how new technologies, like IoT, AI and robotics, can increase operational efficiencies in doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa, following the latest developments marked by technological leap-frogging, including mobile money and sharing models in agriculture and logistics. Research questions include: Which significance do new technologies exercise on the way of doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa? How can new technologies shape and improve business models? Which element(s) of a business model could benefit from new technologies?

- Focus on real business issues, using state of the art scientific knowledge and methods to come up with innovative, implementable results/concepts suitable for pilot projects.
- Widespread network across Germany and Africa, with 300+ European and African companies with activities across Sub-Saharan Africa and across various sectors (e.g. mining, agriculture, energy, different manufacturing industries). In addition, extensive contacts exist to academia in Europe and Africa, national and international chambers of commerce, various government institutions, African embassies, Think Tanks and research institutions. The university is regularly invited by business associations, political institutions, and companies to give presentations or to consult on Doing Business in Africa.

Advantages & innovations

The University’s research has various scientific, economic and social impacts as formulated by the EC in Horizon Europe. They use mixed methods to create high-quality knowledge that can be directly applied. They conduct expert interviews with representatives from the private sector, particularly SMEs and other business representatives. They complement this method by generating primary data via surveys, where suitable. They follow a dedicated business perspective and are ready to contribute to the business case side of new technical approaches and solutions, by investigating possible usage and benefits of innovations, including reduced costs or a more reliable distribution, economic growth and jobs creation, and further implementable social and economic impact. They are dedicated to developing pilot business models that can be adapted and applied by different actors of the private sector. Applying a comprehensive approach to business operations and understanding success factors for doing business in Africa are keys for Africa’s development with a higher engagement of the private sector and companies as vehicles of employment, education, income and hence livings standards. Thus, investigating business activities in Africa includes looking at its social impact. With regard to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) research: There is a large market but each consumer has limited revenue and is entangled in the vicious circle of poverty. By investigating the opportunities of customized business models for the BoP segment and implementing them, one can empower people to improve their living standard. A novel aspect of this topic is to better understand consumer behaviour and conditions as a basis for the analysis of a successful business approach to the BoP market. To obtain data on consumer behaviour, they plan to conduct a survey with a business partner with access to the segment. Based on these insights a business approach suitable for the BoP can be developed.

Stage of development

Already on the market

Partner sought

- Type of partner sought (such as industry, academy, research organisation): Businesses/companies incl. SMEs, universities and other research institutions - Specific area of activity of the partner (example: manufacturer/distributor/user/disposal of plastic packages etc:) The University of Applied Sciences is highly interested in companies across all industries except services that aim at reaching out to Sub-Saharan African markets or are already present. In addition, research institutions and universities that work in the field of international management, economics, etc. and focus – perhaps amongst other regions – on Africa are sought partners. - Tasks to be performed by the partner sought: They are looking for partners who will take the lead in Horizon Europe projects and fulfil the role of managing and administering the project. They are interested in collaborating with other universities and research institutions that provide the technical expertise on products and solutions while their contribution is to develop business models for the European and/or African private sector particularly SMEs doing business in Sub-Saharan African markets.


Source/ contact: Enterprise Europe Network (


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