Checkprint, part of the Tall Group of Companies, the UK leader in the provision of secure paper and payment solutions, has announced further success in Sub-Saharan African markets with the five-figure sale of 100 specialist cheque scanners to Nigeria.
The news comes as Checkprint's Managing Director Martin Ruda took part in an expert panel discussion on opportunities in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, in Leicester this week. The Sub-Saharan Africa event was run by emita (East Midlands International Trade Association) as part of Export Week.
Martin called on companies to cast aside their negative perceptions of business in Africa and exploit the opportunities available. He said: "Many people have pre-conceptions about business in Africa which prevents them from fully growing and expanding. Of course there are risks, but there are also positive opportunities. These markets do offer similar business and legal practices as well as English often being widely spoken.
"For my company, the move to 'electronification' of the cheque in many African markets has opened new opportunities for us, and this recent contract in Nigeria, for a number of participating banks, which was worth a substantial five figure sum, now means we are exporting to seven countries across the continent. In fact, we actively develop and promote our product across Africa as there is a demand for British expertise and quality when it comes to our technology.
"We recently held a seminar in Addis Ababa, hosted by the Central Bank, at which 18 Ethiopian banks expressed interest in our products. We have also appointed a number of new agents in East Africa which means that we have extended our coverage significantly. We were able to achieve this with specific help from UKTI, both in country and through the support of Thomas Schaal and the UKTI team in the East Midlands."
Martin added: "The main worries companies tend to have about Africa revolve around political risk and not being paid. But in my experience it's no more difficult than any other country, you just need the right advice and support, and the right local contacts."
Martin's top tips for exporting in this market are:
1. Persisst. No-one gets it right first time, whether it is the setting up of visits and meetings, or investing in some marketing. But stick with it. The opportunities are significant.
2. Once you have properly researched to find a local partner, listen to their advice and make the most of their local expertise.
3. Take the time to ensure payment terms are clear, comprehensive, and mutually understood.
UKTI-led Export Week aims to encourage companies to take up the export challenge and highlight the wealth of support and knowledge available to help them grow.
Gordon Binnie, one of the International Trade Advisers from UKTI with expertise in the Sub-Saharan African region said: "Sub-Saharan Africa is a key market for UK businesses to look at, especially when considering that in 2010 the UK exported more goods to the region than to China and India combined.
"Sub-Saharan Africa GDP is expected to grow by 6.1% next year. With significant improvements in macro-economic and political stability, the time for Africa is now.
"Incentives for exports to these countries is high with Nigeria's imports from the UK rising by 99.2% in 2012 and offering similar business and legal practices, while Ghana's bilateral trade with the UK was worth £216 million between January – April 2014, an increase of 8%. The UK is a valued trading partner for South Africa with annual trade equalling just under £10 billion and their capital markets are top rated in the world, making it easy to raise financing."