‘Golden era of trade to Africa’

  • 10th March, 2020
  • 2 min reading

Last week started with a great round table meeting with HM Trade Commissioner to Africa, Emma Wade-Smith. The event was organised by Exemplas Trade Services on behalf of the Department for International (DIT) Trade East of England. It was great to have a discussion on the measures that the government is taking to support local businesses in their export plans. And I was honoured to be invited along with five other businesses in the region.

HM Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith, at the meeting with Bolaji Sofoluwe. Credit: John Brook

It was inspiring to see that Mrs Wade-Smith has a passion for Africa that in nearly 10 years of business, I have not yet seen. This filled me with extreme confidence and I know this is going to be the golden era of trade to Africa. I didn’t sense the imperious attitude towards the business opportunities on the continent and neither did I feel that this was an economic grab. As a result, I believed it was a genuine effort to build mutually beneficial relationships on the continent.

Healthcare and life science

This was followed by the Selling to Africa: Life Sciences and Healthcare event. Also run by the DIT, this event attracted businesses in the sector from across the East of England. It was fantastic to have a representative from DIT in Egypt, Salma Amin, present a pragmatic and detailed market entry approach to the delegates. Ayuk Foma Mafomekong, from DLRC Ltd, the regulatory consultants, also gave a great presentation on navigating the regulatory environment for medicines across the continent.

Bolaji with Salma Amin of the Department for International Trade in Egypt. Credit: DIT Egypt

This was the first time that I had heard about efforts to harmonise compliance across the continent – you learn something new every day! Above all my clients will be pleased to hear that this is progressing and that the target is 2021.

We also heard from Phil Jennings, from Santander, who gave an impressive presentation on the South African market and the bank’s large network of partners across the continent.

Finally, I gave a presentation on Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya – covering research and development, budget allocations and some opportunities available to businesses in those countries.


It’s safe to say that this was one of the most practical, detailed events I have been to in a while. Africa as a whole is hard to cover, but focusing on these specific countries, clarifying regulatory requirements and being open and honest about timelines, opportunities and challenges, was a refreshing experience. Well done to Marguerite and her team for organising this event.

So, the motto is, we progress. And, we keep calm and carry on.