© Reuters. GATTAZ SEES AFRICA AS AN el DORADO FOR FRENCH COMPANIES
by Richard Lough
PARIS (Reuters) – The president of Medef, Pierre Gattaz, who has just returned from Kenya where he travelled with representatives of some sixty French companies, sees Africa as an el dorado for investments, including large groups.
“I think that the opportunities are huge”, he said on Thursday to Reuters by telephone, following the word order of Emmanuel Macron. “They will spend one billion people to two billion by 2050. Nothing that this figure should make us aware of the issues.”
The French groups have according to him been awarded a dozen contracts to invest in the agro-food, health, housing and energy in Kenya, and authorities say that they will bring 10 billion dollars of investment.
Pierre Gattaz has refused to disclose the names of companies that have won contracts, but he cited the groups of BTP Vinci (PA:SGEF), waste and water supply Veolia (PA:LIFE), oil, Total (PA:TOTF), electrical equipment Schneider Electric (PA:SCHN), and Dassault Systems as being likely to provide solutions to the needs of the country.
He stressed that France was “quite an expert in the infrastructure, be it transport, highways, trains, and maritime equipment”.
“We are the first large delegation to Europe to be on the spot” after the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta, said Pierre Gattaz. “They have elected a president for five years, which is visionary and pro-business, and in addition rayon economically over 130 millions of Africans.”
THE OBSTACLES AFRICAN
A French official in the delegation said that the figure of $ 10 billion included investments by local companies but it is a significant amount for France, in Africa, where it has historically been less present than in the west of the continent.
“What we’re trying to make, it is a win-win partnership sustainable in the long term that is there to create local employment. It is quite important for France, which was fairly well-known for decades in West Africa, and least known in East Africa.”
Emmanuel Macron also intends to change this state of things. During a trip to West Africa in November, he has promised to build partnerships with the continent.
He made a stop in anglophone Ghana to mark for his willingness to go beyond the pré carré francophone.
“With the arrival of Emmanuel Macron to power, the French companies have found the taste of the conquest and innovation,” said Pierre Gattaz.
The development of european investment remains a challenge in Africa, where corruption and bureaucracy remain the main obstacles and where the fall in the price of raw materials has led to a slowdown in growth.
In Kenya, the sale of new cars has slowed sharply in the last year, at the time of PSA (PA:PEUP) began to assemble two models.
(Edited by Yves Clarisse)