Vast majority of UK businesses see growing opportunity in Africa but potential not being realised; new report

11 April 2012

Barclays - 2 April 2012

Africa is a region of opportunity for UK businesses and British goods and services have an excellent reputation across the continent, but the potential of the region is far from being realised by British companies according to the a new Trade with Africa report, published today by Barclays.

The research, which includes a survey of 250 UK companies currently exporting to Africa, found that the vast majority (92%) of these companies believe there is opportunity for UK businesses in Africa today, including around a third (29%) that believe there is ‘huge opportunity’.

Supporting this positive sentiment, two thirds of the businesses surveyed believe this opportunity will grow in the next five years, and a similar number believe they will increase the amount they export to Africa.

When asked what provides the biggest opportunity for UK businesses in Africa, the reputation of British goods and services was cited most, followed by growing infrastructure spending across Africa and an expanding middle class.

However, when compared with other developing regions, Africa is still viewed as having the least potential at present, with Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America all ranked above Africa by survey respondents.

Kah Chye Tan, Global Head of Trade and Working Capital, said that while the findings appeared broadly positive, he strongly believes the potential for UK producers in Africa was still being significantly underestimated.

“For many exporters Africa is the final frontier, and the vast and diverse nature of the continent and its people can make the trading with Africa seem simply too much of a challenge. However, the infrastructure across many of Africa’s largest economies is improving rapidly, and I encourage all UK businesses to view Africa as a fast growing new market to be explored.”

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