Sunday, October 14, 2018

INSEAD Africa Business Conference 2018 - Harnessing Africa's Potential: From Ideas to Action

Participants during networking cocktails at the INSEAD Africa Business Conference 2018
Nigeria does not generate enough electricity to power the country around the clock and providing your own power is expensive, so many retailers cannot refrigerate products overnight. As a result, dairy products such as yoghurts cycle between chilled and warm states repeatedly before they are sold. This sometimes causes yoghurts to go bad, as I often found out to my horror as a child.

So, what do you do when you’re Danone and you’re looking to sell your yoghurts in Cameroon? You have to reformulate it. You can’t just sell the same formulations that work in France. You have to design something specifically for your target market in Africa.

Many people who have not done business in Africa underestimate the size of the continent. The tastes and preferences of consumers in Morocco are so different from that of consumers in Nigeria that they might as well be from different continents.

Despite the complexity, Africa offers an exciting opportunity for global businesses. Its 1.2 billion people hold plenty of promise and potential, and while lots of work is still required to build out the infrastructure, talent, and policy required to fulfill Africa’s potential – it remains the last great frontier for business on our planet.

Working with my colleagues on the leadership team of the Africa Club at INSEAD, I was privileged to help organize the INSEAD Africa Business Conference 2018 in Paris on October 10 to contribute to the discussion on the challenges and opportunities for business in Africa. The conference was organized around three panels: Consumer Goods (Moyosola Okoye - Danone, Seun Balogun - P&G, Paul Langlois-Meurinne - Optimetriks), Digital & Entrepreneurship (Etop Ikpe - Cars45, Tope Ogunsemo - Krystal Digital, Tinashe Ruzane - Uber), and Finance (Cathia Lawson-Hall - Societe Generale, Olivier Frendo - Goldman Sachs, Souleymane Ba - Helios Investment Partners). There were 150 people in attendance, with many opportunities to network during and after the conference.

Organizing the conference also turned out to be an exercise in organizational behavior, strategy, marketing, and pricing – a fitting exercise for business school students. I am very proud to have helped deliver this conference, and I look forward to supporting future editions as an alumnus.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll speak at one in future.

The Consumer Goods Panel. The moderator was Camille Du-Lac from Jeune Afrique

Mrs. Marjan Beijer and Mr. Mike Rice from Olam, our Corporate Sponsors

The Digital and Entrepreneurship Panel. The moderator was Elizabeth Howard from Lelapa, a finch startup in Paris.

The Finance Panel. The moderator was Nicholas Norbrook, Managing Editor of The Africa Report.

The amazing leadership team of the Africa Club at INSEAD.
From right: Camilla Steward, Koye-Ladele M., Fatoumata Sy, Michael Mensah, Natalie Paret, Shad Kiratu, and Mary-Ann Onuegbu.

The Africa Club Leadership with the speakers and moderator from our Finance Panel.

The welcome address by Mr. Patrice Fonlladosa, Chairman and CEO of Veolia Africa and Middle East

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