Country Branding and Legal Framework, Topics of Debate…

Marco has worked across the African continent with numerous European institutions, companies, governments and delegations to discuss investment projects aimed at supporting the development of economies.

“If Europe is not united, Africa is not: the levels of development and needs are very different, we have to choose where to invest specifically” he explained.

Didier Lagae, CEO of Marco – PHOTO/ATLAYAR

For Didier Lagae, “the country brand is ephemeral, you can’t build it and leave it alone; you have to take care of it day by day.”

The Communications Director gave the example of Morocco: “a brand is made up of two factors: on the one hand, business, attracting investment and talent, because we need someone to do the job, and if we don’t have someone, we have to bring them in; on the other hand, tourism, which is usually the first approach to a given country.”

“Africa is not a country, it has a large population, economies with the highest economic and population growth and a growing middle class, as we can see in Morocco. Climate change is an opportunity for Africa to invest in renewable energy and the agri-food industry,” he said.

Didier Lagae, CEO of Marco – PHOTO/ATLAYAR

According to Lagae, “this is a fantastic moment for Spain because there is a strong anti-French sentiment in French-speaking Africa; sub-Saharan Africa has political issues that we will not go into; and Spain is neutral, which is a real opportunity to leverage the Spanish brand in Africa, just like China does.”

The sectors with the most opportunities are: tourism, infrastructure, construction, textiles and fashion, and renewable energy. “Twenty years ago, Spain’s motto was ‘Good, nice, cheap’, but we are no longer there. We added value, we offer reliable and serious businesses, no longer cheap, but with accessible excellence,” he concluded.

Legal framework for investment

Another roundtable, dedicated to the legal framework for investments, was moderated by Abdou Souleye Diop, Managing Partner of Mazars, and also included Mariétou Coulibaly, Director of the Regional Consular Chamber of UEMOA, and Anne-Sophie Firion, Arbitrator at the Court of Common Plenipotentiary and Arbitration of OHADA.

Anne-Sophie Firion, Arbitrator of the OHADA Court of Common Pleas and Arbitration – PHOTO/SEND

Firion explained that “This organization, the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa, is made up of 17 sub-Saharan African countries and has had a common legal framework for over 30 years. It was founded in 1993 with 14 members; it currently has 17 and will grow as it negotiates with Burundi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

For Firion, “the organization has very positive aspects: its main mission is to harmonize trade law throughout the territory, adapting it to the needs of the countries. They have uniform laws that apply in all member countries. OHADA streamlines disputes between companies or between companies and states, promoting arbitration and mediation to quickly resolve disputes.

Mariétou Coulibaly, Director of the UEMOA Regional Consular Chamber – PHOTO/SEND

For his part, Mariétou Coulibaly explained his organization and spoke about the potential of African youth in WAEMU countries. In terms of development, WAEMU has analytical and consultative bodies that analyze the situation and make appropriate decisions.

As Coulibaly explained, “every year, documentation is sent to the private sector because we have a mandate that changes from country to country, and the private sector gives us feedback on the problems they see, which allows us to reflect together and come up with proposals and guidelines.”

According to the head of UEMOA, “we also have an informal part, we cooperate with different authorities, we talk about economic activity and crises. Sometimes they listen to us, sometimes they don’t, but it is our duty to do it. The private sector expresses approval for the directives that UEMOA adopts.”