We research: Exports to Southern Africa

11.4.2022Nina SavelaWe research

There is a growing demand for the products and services of the maritime cluster in the markets of Southern Africa. In the future, Southern Africa will be the target of increasing investments. The market consists of an area of up to 300 million consumers. Located on the southern coast of the Atlantic, Namibia is categorized as a gateway to Southern Africa by sea and road.

Representatives of companies from the Central Baltic Region in a group photo representatives of Namport organization outdoors in Walvis Bay. Two persons holding a textile flag of the core themes of the SME Aisle project.
The business and project experts from the Central Baltic region met the representatives of Namport in Walvis Bay in April 2019.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in the Central Baltic region in Finland, Åland, Estonia, Latvia ja Sweden have strong expertise in maritime sectors such as shipbuilding, shipping and logistics, renewable energy, automation and ICT. However, many of the companies in the area do not have the capacity or expertise to operate individually in the Southern African market area (the SADC region, Southern African Development Community). On the other hand, customers of the SADC region expect adaptable and scalable product and service concepts for their products and services. A project called SME Aisle, funded by the Interreg Central Baltic, was created by the Maritime Logistics Research Center to meet the demand.

The project aims to support SMEs in the Central Baltic maritime clusters in entering markets in the SADC region by using Namibia as a gateway to wider markets such as South Africa and Zambia. So far, the project has studied the markets of the target countries, their possibilities in business and sought solutions for supporting the trade of SMEs in the SADC market.

SME Aisle has carried out many activities that support the Central Baltic SMEs’ exports to the SADC region. A market analysis of the southern African market is a vital source of information. It includes information on the target countries and their potential, technical and operative requirements and market preparedness. It also analyses possible ways to enter the market. To promote the SME Aisle operations, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system has also been assembled and developed. Efforts have been made to build capacity by selecting the 20 most potential export companies for which joint training events have been organized, e.g. dozens of local events and international workshops. The enterprises have also been offered capacity enhancing training in the form of online lectures. SME Aisle has also organized business delegation trips to southern Africa (Namibia, South Africa and Zambia) and to countries in the Central Baltic. The theme of the trips and meetings have been e.g. branding, and business negotiations have delved into establishing joint enterprises and signing sales contracts.

Within the project, an electronic platform has been created for enterprises and others interested in business. The platform gives easy access to information on the countries of the Central Baltic region and Southern Africa both by sector and by country, and the entire research material of the project. The project has composed an extensive archive of publications and reports supporting business actions. The good practices and concepts are extended to maritime exports in the Central Baltic area and in the SADC area. All in all, the project has intensified cooperation from between individual enterprises to between organizations and even countries.

Did you know?

  • Over 40 enterprises of the Central Baltic region from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden have participated in SME Aisle delegation trips. During the trips, hundreds of new contacts have been established.
  • Zambia was added to the project at the request of the comapies when SME Aisle was already in action.
  • South Africa will be a very interesting export destination in the future. For example, according to Finland’s new Africa strategy, the trade between Finland and African countries will be doubled from 2020 to 2030 (Finnish Government 2021).


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