The Netherlands African Business Council (NABC) has urged the Dutch government not to close any more embassies in Africa.
The NABC’s business services manager, Thijs Rutgers, made the appeal at Wittenborg University’s African Business-to-Business Event last week. Rutgers was the keynote speaker at the event. Other speakers included Rabobank’s Africa Desk manager, Peter Niekus, and Gonneke Campen, a representative of Young Africa, a non-profit organization doing skills training in Africa.
In the past two years Dutch embassies and consulates have closed in Eritrea (Asmara), Cameroon (Yaoundé), Benin (Cotonou), Zambia (Lusaka) and Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou).
“There are now 21 Dutch embassies in Africa and counting…” Rutgers said. According to him this does not compare favorably with other countries such as China (49 embassies in Africa), the US (49), France (47), Germany (43), the UK (37), Brazil (34), Japan (34), Turkey (33), Spain (38) and India (28).
“We have heard they (the government) are even considering closing the embassy in Senegal. We have to open embassies and support businesses and charities operating there,” Rutgers said. When asked by Wittenborg senior lecturer, Karin Pelle, about possible reasons behind the closures, Rutgers said he is not entirely sure, but it might have something to do with cutting costs.
Wittenborg University has continuously had a steady flow of students from Africa following its Bachelor of Administration and Master of Science degrees. Currently it hosts 45 students from 14 different African countries.
With the event the university hoped to spark awareness of the potential and possibilities the African market has to offer. It was attended by scores of African students, Dutch companies interested in doing business abroad, academics and representatives of charity organizations.
The purpose of the event was to highlight business opportunities in Africa, current economic trends and lucrative regions and sectors on the continent. It also sought to provide a networking platform for both established and prospective Dutch companies in Africa, the non-profit sector, training institutes and international students.
Niekus said Africa is one of the richest continents, citing South Africa which is the world’s largest platinum producer (75%), Nigeria who is ranked 11th when it comes to oil production and East Africa with its vast gas reserves.
According to Niekus the three top sectors for business opportunities are in Logistics, Food and Agriculture as well as Energy. He also said when Dutch-ambassadors was asked to list the top African countries to do business in the list included Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. He further emphasized that although challenges remain, there are far less conflict than 20 years ago.
Rutgers also criticized the Hogeschool of Amsterdam for banning students and staff to undertake any study or work related trips to Africa in the next two years citing the outbreak of viruses such as Ebola and political instability as the reasons behind the decision.
©Wittenborg University Press
by Anesca Smith