Successful networking and business deals between Sweden and Southern Africa

Regional trade and investment in ICT, agribusiness and green technology were the focus areas of the Nordic Southern Africa Business Summit gathering over 180 companies in Cape Town from Southern Africa and the Nordic countries and 50 in Gaborone Botswana a few days later. It was magic to see the Swedish and other Nordic companies network and initiate business deals with companies from South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Inspiring seminars were held in the area of ICT, green technology and agribusiness which gave an overview of the challenges and opportunities for doing business with the Nordic and Southern Africa countries.

Chamber Trade Sweden and the Cape Chamber of Commerce commissioned a special report for the occasion on how mobile solutions in ICT is delivering new business opportunities to all sectors. Peter Stein, Economist and author of this ICT report, gave an inspiring speech on how Africa is rising and holding ground while many other parts of the world are still in recession.

Erich Hugo, South African-Swedish ICT entrepreneur from ITG Digital, gave new insights on how ICT opens up new business models within all sectors. Nils Tunebjer from the BAS talked of the value chain reforming for both consumers and the retail sector.

Green technology was another key topic with inspiring speakers. Nils af Winklerfeldt, Grace Organics, commanded great attention with a product turning food waste into fertilizer. Jonas Röttorp, IVL, spoke on waste water management, Anders Lindén, Tellux, on solar energy and Adam Brännström, Eskilstuna Energy and Environment on municipal waste management.

An important part of the summit was the interactive break-out sessions with collaboration and new ideas on how to innovate and develop new business models.

The Trade mission to South Africa ended with an official dinner hosted by the Swedish Ambassador to South Africa, Anders Hagelberg.

The Swedish delegation went on to visit Botswana starting out with a visit to Botswana Innovation Hub, Science and Technology Park and some of their innovative start ups at the First Steps Venture Centre.  Issues of collaboration with the hub were especially interesting for Jonas Klevhag from the corresponding hub Teknopol in Skåne, who was part of the Swedish delegation. Lund University has had a successful partnership with the Botswana Hub for several years through Sten Stenbeck, who has been based in Gaborone.

One of the most successful business matchmaking companies in the Swedish delegation was Okapi Finance International in Västerås that is led by Gisele Mwepu. Okapi offers financial solutions to previously unbanked consumers, with a market which is far larger than just Africa. Okapi found many interesting start-ups in the area of ICT at the Innovation Hub.

The trip was finalised by an Industrial Development roundtable discussion together with Botswana’s Chamber of Commerce bringing important issues to the table for the development and diversification of Botwana’s economy with a very heated dialogue between the private sector and representatives from Botswana’s government. Charlotte Kalin and Malin Dacke from Chamber Trade Sweden, Bronwen Kausch, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Maria Machailo-Ellis, Botswana Chamber of Commerce were more than satisfied with the South African Tour which is part of the final activities within the chamber partnership agreements supported by the Swedish government and Sida.