East Africa Attracts Multinationals. We Sought to Find out Why

By Soko Directory Team / May 26, 2016




What exactly does the East African market offer that has seen multinational corporations in technology, consumer goods, industrial and financial services trooping in  to open offices in Nairobi, using it as a gateway into the EAC?

US based company, Dow East Africa recently celebrated its successful establishment in East Africa, following its entry, in the year 2010.

A chat with Dow’s Sub Sahara Head, Ross McLean, gives us a highlight.

What spurred your interest in East Africa?

When I first came to Kenya back in 2009, I was in pursuit of a new Dow narrative; one that would include the company in the overall Africa growth story.

Dow’s venture into East Africa was therefore strategic to achieving our ambitious growth goals. It meant enabling Dow’s direct access to markets, and wider opportunities to bring the products closer to the consumers.

I strongly believe that you cannot ignore the over 250 million people in the East African region; you cannot ignore the emerging middle class; you cannot ignore the magnanimous infrastructural development taking place, from sea ports to airports, roads to railways. It’s an exciting time to be in the region. This is what spurred our interest in East Africa.

How has your growth been, since set-up?

The set-up of Dow East Africa was the real start of our renewed African strategy, being the first office outside of South Africa and Egypt. Since establishing our office in Kenya, we have seen successive year-on-year growth.

Every milestone from resourcing, customer, government and community engagements were very instrumental in defining our journey.

With the support of our stakeholders, businesses and partners in the government, private sector, academia, and other key sectors of the economy and society, we have been able to grow our presence in the region.

What sectors does Dow operate in?

Our operations in Africa cut across sectors including water, mining, agro-sciences, coatings, textiles, furniture, home and personal care industries, transportation and infrastructure.

We are committed to advancing Africa’s development through best in class innovation and technology targeting key sectors that contribute to expansion of trade such as agriculture and manufacturing.

You ventured into Ethiopia, soon after you established the Kenya office. What informed this and how has been your experience in Ethiopia?

The success of Dow East Africa facilitated the establishment of Dow Ethiopia in 2014, further giving us opportunities to contribute to the economic development of the region.

Ethiopia’s role in the region cannot go unnoticed. The country continues to experience unprecedented growth with huge, ongoing investments in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, tourism, financial services and ICT. Her influence in the larger East Africa economic environment is increasing through joint infrastructure development and trade.

Ethiopia is billed as one of the fastest growing economies in the world; this ‘sleeping giant’ of the Horn of Africa is poised to be the economic engine of the region.

It is also one of the few countries in Africa that has achieved significant progress with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. This will have positive medium to long-term implications for the country’s population by decreasing poverty and raising rural livelihoods.

More importantly to us, the Government has pursued pro-poor growth strategies prioritizing agriculture and rural development. Agriculture accounts for over eighty per cent of the country’s total workforce and seventy per cent of the country’s export earnings underlining the significance of this sector to Ethiopia’s economy.

What will be your focus for the next 5 years?

Within the next few years, we intend to venture into the extractive industry.

We are also commercializing our innovation pipeline to fuel the region’s organic growth by focusing on megatrends such as Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation, Agricultural Sciences, and Consumer and Lifestyle.

Parting shot?

As we celebrate six years of Dow in East Africa, I am delighted to say that this has been a special journey and would not have been this successful without the support of our stakeholders and customers.The journey ahead looks bright and promising. The Dow East Africa team looks forward to making a difference in the region.



About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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