East Africa : The local economy and its opportunities

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Introduction :

East Africa is one of the most dynamic regions on the African continent. Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi have been experiencing unprecedented development over the past decade, with unparalleled speed of growth and a strong desire to modernize, creating tremendous business opportunities in a wide range of sectors.

Regional market overview.

The East African Community (EAC) has been a regional leader for several years with a very high integration rate, offering a large market spread over several countries. Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are fast-growing economies with GDP growth of 5% in 2019 and an estimated average of 3% for 2021, a remarkable figure given the negative impact of the pandemic on the year 2020.

In terms of demographics, East Africa represents a market of approximately 350 million consumers, a figure that is growing.

Each of the countries in the East African region has remarkable economic qualities that make them ideal locations for the export of French SMEs. Kenya and Tanzania are classified as middle-income countries. Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia have a high rate of urbanization, with plans for their respective capitals to become megacities within a few years. Ethiopia's economy is ranked among the most dynamic in the world and the country is becoming increasingly important in the region. Burundi, finally, being a member of both ECA and CEMAC, allows potential investors an opening to several African economic regions and thus an ever greater impact on the African market.

Trade opportunities in East Africa.

On a regional scale, East Africa presents many business opportunities in agriculture. It is a particularly demanding economy given the rapid population growth and lack of technical resources in this sector. In addition to a great need, the countries of the East African Community have huge agricultural areas to exploit, representing 1.6 times the size of the European Union. Similarly, the region is going through an unprecedented water crisis and therefore welcomes foreign investments providing solutions in water and sanitation.

On another note, the modernization dynamic undertaken by EAC member states makes the digital, transport, infrastructure and new technology sectors highly sought after. Indeed, East Africa has the ambition to become a key hub in Africa in terms of innovation. As for business opportunities at the national level, they are many and varied.

In Kenya, energy storage systems, real estate, cosmetics, agricultural processing, and health care, specifically medical equipment, are the most promising sectors.

Ethiopia has similar needs: it welcomes exports in the sectors of raw materials processing into foodstuffs (slaughterhouse, seed factory), hospital equipment, transport infrastructure and private companies in the renewable energy sector, especially for solar and hydroelectric projects. Finally, some foodstuffs also find their way into Ethiopia's export opportunities.

In Uganda, the main emerging sector is technology. As the country is in a dynamic process of modernization, the needs are immense. Electrocardiographs, ultrasound imaging equipment, laboratory equipment, echocardiography equipment, fiber optic accessories, data transmission equipment and switching and routing companies are all welcome in the country. Other promising sectors are agriculture and more precisely crop storage techniques, electricity and finally transport infrastructure.

Similarly, Rwanda has the same desire for development and is therefore open to exports offering innovative products and services: renewable energies for off-grid electricity (solar, wind), the recovery of treated water, irrigation and input technologies. The country is particularly sensitive to innovations in cyberspace, such as last-mile Internet connection, mobile financial services, cybersecurity, development of mobile applications and online payment solutions, etc.

In Tanzania, the two major emerging sectors are digital and infrastructure. Digital has demand in the digital health sector, namely the development of mobile health applications and the dematerialization of medical records; and in mobile telephony and Internet access. For infrastructure, it is transport (road, sea and air) and tourism, i.e. hotel and commercial complexes, airports, etc. There are also commercial opportunities in the textile and food processing industries.

Finally, Burundi has a wide variety of interesting sectors for the export of French SMEs. These include energy, mining, financial services, agriculture, transport infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing, health and real estate.


How to export to East Africa.

African development propose un accompagnement complet, de la formulation du projet à la commercialisation effective des biens et/ou services dans les marchés africains. Cela permet aux entreprises intéressées d’être au fait des règles de l’export en Afrique et de bénéficier d’un bon réseau garantissant le succès du projet.