On August 27, a conference has been organized by AFRICA HOUSE, at the Conference Room of the DBSA’s premises (Development Bank of Southern Africa) in Kyalami, Johannesburg, on “Doing Business in Francophone Sub-Saharan countries”.
Liz Whitehouse, the Managing Director of Africa House opened the proceedings. According to her, South Africa needs to improve its trade relationships with all French-speaking African countries. She highlighted the fact that there are 22 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region which use French as the official language which represent a really market niche. In other words that region represents a total market of about 300 million people. She continued by saying that according to the trade statistics, South Africa’s exports towards those countries are very low and mostly limited to a commercial relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Paul Runge, one of the director of Africa House, emphasized that only 11 percent of RSA’s total exports to the sub-Saharan region go to francophone markets. He attributed this small percentage to the lack of knowledge of francophone culture, local business practices, legal systems and technical specifications and standards.
Furthermore, Liz Whitehouse pointed out that South African companies have poor knowledge of the markets and opportunities of French-speaking African countries, and that they faced the inability to get in touch with real decision-makers, the difficulties in finding genuine business partners, the difficulties of the shipping logistics and the lack of access to project funding due to political interference.
And finally, Liz Whitehouse dispelled the myth that France controlled the lion’s share of the market in Francophone African countries. However, the good news is that, she said, in terms of the statistics held in 2017, France accounted only 9.1% of the world exports to those countries. In other words, France commercial activity is decreasing. On the contrary, China is leading the exports activity with 25% of the worldwide exportation, followed by India and Belgium. And South Africa ranks 9th.
Dida Seminari then intervened in order to encourage, to motivate South African companies to invest in DRC and that TIAfrica offers a range of services that assist foreigner investors to work comfortably in DRC while doing their core objectives. She cited the TIAfrica’s slogan “Focus on your business, Tiafrica does the rest.”
Dida Seminari is of Congolese origin. She is a lawyer and lives in South Africa where she represents the TIAFRICA Group as Development Manager. The headquarters of TIAfrica is based in Lubumbashi, in Haut-Katanga, the mining province (DRC), with offices in Kinshasa and Kolwezi and Bukavu.
Here is the full text of Dida Seminari’s speech.
Hello, my name is Dida Seminari, I am a lawyer by profession, I represent TIAFRICA Group which consists of a group of companies registered under the Congolese legislation and which are specialized in providing administrative and financial services that meet all the requirements of a company’s life.
Indeed, Hervé Ngoy Kalumba, the initiator and president of the Group, a lawyer by training, aware of the challenges faced by his clients, mostly foreign investors, decided to create a multidisciplinary structure (made up of lawyers, accountants, HR experts, tax specialists, etc.) to assist them by reducing the volume of administrative tasks and constraints inherent in the legal and regulatory environment specific to the DRC.
It is true that the business approach in our Congolese environment can be particularly stressful for those who are not used to it or experience it.
Thus, our Group offers the full range of services that facilitate the establishment and development of a company in order to meet the challenges faced by new investors in DRC, as we know and master the legal and regulatory texts.
Those difficulties range from the creation of a company; recruitment and management of human resources, obtaining visas and work cards, declaration of various taxes ; compliance with the requirements of the OHADA provisions and other local laws including the revised Mining Code, the Labor Code, Tax Code, the Law on Subcontracting, assistance in non-judicial fiscal and parafiscal litigation etc.
Just to illustrate our point, I will tell you about the common story of all our customers. Let me tell you about the case of one of our client who arrived 5 years ago with a subcontracting agreement for mining services. We helped him to create a local entity of which he was the sole shareholder at the beginning. We have recruited staff and to date we are managing his human resources.
This client has an average of 2000 agents, 80% of whom are employees of our Group entity and for the others we only provide payroll services with respect to HR (Labor Broker) services.
Indeed, we leave our customers the option to choose the formula that suits them. Either they employ their workers and we offer payroll, personnel management or we employ the workers on behalf of our clients for the duration of their project and we manage them. In addition to this personnel management service, we offer legal advice and recommendations.
And this is how our client complied with the new law of subcontracting by ceding the majority of his shares to a Congolese person in accordance with this new law while keeping control of his company. In addition to these services, we offer this client accounting and tax services.
As far as services in the field of accounting and taxation are concerned, one of TIAFRICA’s senior partners who is present in the room will be able to answer your questions.
We can believe that our contribution to the customer, is undoubtedly beneficial because it does not have to manage the hassle of the administrative requirements in a Congolese environment, allowed him to focus only on its main objective and thus to reach a turnover of at least $ 45 million. THANKS!