H.E. Mr. Lionel Zinsou
Prime Minister of Benin
Having worked several years with Japanese companies, Mr. Zinsou touched on the importance of public-private partnerships in Africa and on how to deepen the relationship.
“By contributing to two successful joint ventures with Japanese companies, I would say that it is all about taking the time to understand and trust each other.
The cultural gap is noticeable between Europe and Japan and even more with Africa. It takes time to understand the judicial system, the business manners, and the decision process of the other party.
In Europe and in Africa the leader would take the initiative, whereas in Japan it will have to be a group decision, a consensus in many cases.
I believe this type of forums are essential to give a better understanding about Africa but also for the African business people to get a better understanding of Japanese manners and business habits.
One thing that most people are not aware of is that the African continent has over 500 billion USD in foreign exchange reserves. African entrepreneurs now boast about being approached by one of the many private-equity investors scouring the continent for opportunities. In some respects it is no surprise that Africa is becoming such a popular destination for business investment.
But there is still a lot of misinformation that needs to be corrected by us, African leaders, and representatives of the private sector.We need to travel the world to introduce what is the reality of Africa today. A better understanding between people will lead to successful partnerships.”
H.E. Mr. Lionel Zinsou, French–Beninese economist and investment banker who has been Prime Minister of Benin since 2015 attended the ECOWAS-Japan Business Forum last October. He used this opportunity to urge Japan to invest more in West Africa, saying the region will become a huge growing market.