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CIBA, Business France promote investment potential of France, citing South African examples

22nd May 2023

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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South African consultancy Cebisile Investment and Advisory (CIBA) in 2022 opened an office in Reims, France, and sees much potential for this to bolster its future growth and development, as well as assist the company in progressing its destination 2025 strategy.

This was alluded to by MD Sean Ammon, speaking during a joint press conference with national agency Business France, held in Johannesburg, on May 22.

Business France supports the international development of the French economy and is responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.

CIBA, formed in 2014, assists clients to transform their businesses through consulting and cognitive automation solutions, Ammon explained.

He said that investing in France formed part of the company’s aim to expand from its pan-African reach, with the country providing an ideal port for CIBA to access continental Europe, and a good base to set up its headquarters for the region.

Ammon added that considerable investment had been made in the European Union in terms of digital programmes, artificial intelligence and process optimisation, besides others, with France being a hub for this, and that this was aligned to CIBA’s industry of operation.

“We believe that we have a lot of value to add to French industries. We can help them to become more efficient,” he acclaimed.

Ammon emphasised that companies that want to invest in France should do their due diligence on the region and ensure they have a business case for this. This should include visiting the country and finding the correct location, that aligns with the company’s culture.

He also highlighted the need to form partnerships, noting that CIBA was looking to partner with large French organisations, European tech companies and startups, to leverage solutions and skillsets for positive growth – rather than working in isolation.

“We’re looking at engaging within the financial services sector, with a specialisation in banking – because that's where a lot of our skillsets sit, [as well as in] telco, automotive, manufacturing and mining – as part of our three-year plan to 2050.”

Ammon outlined that year one of the plan entailed recruiting the first layer of its organisational structures, which included putting together all of its digital marketing and content.

This is now in the execution phase.

Next year, CIBA is aiming to grow and bring on more people, having already engaged with the University of Reims to explore how to cross-pollinate with the talent it has from a graduate perspective, as well as leveraging some of its research skills.

Year three will entail CIBA having a full contingent and it will be aiming to expand further outside of French boundaries.

French Embassy in South Africa Chargé d’Affaires Arnaud Roux outlined findings from the EY 2022 Europe Attractiveness Survey, which measures and compares real and perceived attractiveness of the main European countries.

He said this showed that, for the fourth consecutive year, France ranked first in Europe in 2022 with 1 259 investment projects (+3%), ahead of the UK with 929 projects recorded (-6%) and Germany with 832 projects (-1%).

Roux highlighted that France and South Africa were major trading partners, with more than 400 French companies in the country, with about 60 000 employees, making them “an important employer for South African citizens”.

Lecoq also mentioned that last year, French companies pledged about R50-billion worth of investments in South Africa, showcasing “real commitment from French companies and the government”.

Meanwhile, Business France Invest Africa Hub head Stéphane Lecoq outlined findings from the Business France '2022 Foreign Direct Investment in France' report, which focused on specific highlights in terms of origins, sectors of activity and preferred regional locations within France.

Africa accounted for almost 4% of the overall foreign direct investment (FDI) projects into France in 2022 (60 projects and a total of 1 370 jobs).

Lecoq said while this was modest, the continent’s share is gradually growing (from 3% in 2021). Moreover, he said this new activity began only in 2015, therefore, it is encouraging that Africa’s reach in the region is already being seen in less than a decade.

Eight countries contributed to this performance, namely, Tunisia (22 projects and 267 jobs), Morocco (12 projects and 682 jobs), Côte d’Ivoire (six projects), Algeria (six projects), Madagascar (five projects), South Africa (four projects), Senegal (four projects) and Nigeria (two projects).

Lecoq highlighted that since 2015, Business France had worked with close to 30 South African companies, successfully facilitating their investment into France.

He noted that building on CIBA’s 2022 investment, Business France expects at least three to four positive investment decisions this year.

Moreover, Lecoq explained that projects from South African companies originate mainly from the Johannesburg-Pretoria corridor and the Cape Town-Stellenbosch corridor, with a few also coming from Durban.

He noted that inward investment by South African companies typically focused on the Paris and neighbouring region; however, there were a few companies investing in the south of France.

Broadly, four regions in France host the majority of FDI from Africa. The South of France/Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur heads the ranking with 16 projects, followed by the Paris region and Eastern France (14 projects each) and Northern France (eight projects).

The information technology/digital sector leads the number of projects by sector of activity (21 projects and close to 300 jobs).

Lecoq also highlighted that research and development (R&D) activities account for 15 FDI projects originating from Africa with over 150 jobs related and an almost even split between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Lecoq encouraged South African companies looking to expand their European business to use France as a base, noting that the country was central in the European market; and the language barrier was not a business barrier, which was showcased by the many US and South African companies investing.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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