Francophonie Summit Offers Great Opportunities For African Businesses

Ylias Akbaraly, Chairman of the Sipromad Group and Madagascar’s business mogul, says this year’s summit will enhance intra-Africa trade and partnerships. 


ANTANANARIVO: Hundreds of delegates from over 80 countries including Heads of State, government ministers, policy makers, and businessmen are in Madagascar this week to participate in the16th Francophonie Summit taking place in Antananarivo.  This year’s theme is “Shared growth and responsible development: conditions for stability around the world and within La Francophonie”. 

The leading businessman from Madagascar and the fifth richest man in Francophnie Africa Ylias Akbaraly, Chairman, Sipromad Group has welcomed the Summit calling it as “an ideal platform for Madagascar to position itself as the potential Tiger of the Indian Ocean and a huge opportunity for African businesses to strike new partnerships.” 

 “This is a big opportunity for businessmen in Madagascar because there are many delegations coming, heads of state with very important businessmen. For example Morocco will come with his Highness King Mohamed VI and he will be accompanied by almost 35 businessmen. So I think it’s going to be a big opportunity for the country.” Madagascar has huge potential explains Akbaraly. “Madagascar can be the Tiger of the Indian Ocean; the reason is very simple first, our location (right in between Asia and Africa). Second, we are the biggest country in the Indian Ocean and third, our population. We have a young population which is well educated.”

However, he adds that to unlock this potential, “the government should look into simplifying regulations, making it easier for entrepreneurs and foreign businessmen to come, to settle, and to start a business. I will say that the investors too should offer the best education and training to the young generation.”

In Madagascar Sipromad Group, the largest privately owned company has invested in sectors including power, aviation, realty and industry. The company has businesses in over six African countries and is in the process of expanding into four more.  Africa is where the future lies, stresses Akbaraly. “Africa is the market where I see our future growth. As we are in Africa, the logical way for the development is in Africa.  The IMF forecasts that Africa will be the second-fastest growing region in the world between 2016 and 2020 with annual growth of 4.3%. 

With the fastest growing middle class in the world, it is reported that African consumers will contribute to over $400 billion in consumption growth in the next 10 years. These numbers are encouraging and tell a story of African success.” Akbaraly, who took over the reins of Sipromad in 1989 with a staff of 20 and a turnover of USD 20,000, has turned the company into a multimillion dollar conglomerate today with over 3,000 staff, a turnover of over USD 150 million. They have offices in Paris, Dubai and Mauritius and expanding.

“We now have operations in Zimbabwe, and Ghana, we have already signed a contract in Gabon and we are applying for a tender in Ivory Coast and another one in Benin. The next negotiation that we are going to start will be in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Nigeria. So this is today’s strategy and the vision of our group.” With Africa rising and Madagascar having an opportunity to showcase its potential, the week-long Francophonie Summit already looks very promising!

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