Africa is now getting close to us. The continent provides a real opportunity for more and more Hungarian entrepreneurs to trade or invest in the states of the sub-Saharan region. This is not only good for them, but also for the entire Hungarian economy, since it is in line with the government’s newly announced policy. This is what Dr. Zoltán Kiss, president of the MKIK Africa Department, said at the opening ceremony of the Hungarian Trade and Cultural Center’s Africa Expo. He gave GLOBS Magazine an interview after the event.
How do you evaluate the work done by the African Department so far?
I think we can safely say that we are successful. We started the initiatives at the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and then we established the sub-Saharan and then the African departments in the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce. Our goal with the establishment of these departments was clearly to help Hungarian businesses get to the African markets. This is also in line with government goals. In the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the pursuit of government’s efforts in building foreign economic relations plays an important role.
According to this, the Southern Opening Policy towards Africa is especially important for us. Within this framework, we take into account the opportunities of the European Union, as well as domestic and African relational opportunities. So we can not only follow the government’s ideas at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, but we can finally realize them in order to boost the Hungarian economy. In order to make Hungarian businesses, know-how and patents available in Africa, we organize meetings for business people, legal forms and forums for discovering opportunities.
We do this in connection with any nation that might potentially be a target country. Our work is also included in the fact that in recent years a number of Hungarian companies have appeared as dealers or investors in Africa.
Consequently, we have found interest there. When we visited Kenya with fourteen Hungarian businessmen, there were about two hundred Kenyan businessmen who wanted to establish contact with Hungarian companies. These included connections that have already been materialized, in the field of utilizing geothermal energy or exporting banking IT systems. The National Banknote Printing Manufacture was also successful in many countries.
With whom could you cooperate with in this area? Where does the support come from?
If we are here at the opening ceremony of HTCC Africa Expo, I must definitely point out that we get a lot of help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in exploring the possibilities. However, essential support also comes from HTCC which was founded by Mr. Sándor Balogh. For example, I brought a HTCC forum organized to Uganda. Furthermore, I can say that this is a wonderful country with excellent economic opportunities, and the same is true for Morocco. Nevertheless, we also traveled together with Mr. Péter Szíjjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to Kenya and Ethiopia. Besides, we visited Uganda with Mr. Miklós Seszták, Minister of Development.
We have also hosted many delegations and established good connections with countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Senegal, Congo.
We held events with the participation of ambassadors, and these were very much effective. The department also hosted delegations from Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Cape Verde. At the end of April, we will have a forum with the Congolese and Ivorian ambassadors, which can be very useful for Hungarian businesses. The role of education in these relationships cannot be emphasized enough.
You have to know that in the past 30-40 years, many African students have studied at Hungarian universities and colleges.
These students speak Hungarian well and they have become important members at state positions. A great opportunity lies in these students. This is very important. The fact that this form continues has been highlighted on our foreign trips. Many African students can study in Hungary once again. Seventy of them came from Ethiopia only. It is also very important that Eximbank has already opened up significant funds to Africa. Therefore, if an enterprise wants to go to Africa, either commercially or as an investor, Eximbank can already finance it with significant amounts.
Which is the direction to proceed? What are the most promising areas?
Africa is a region where Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises also have opportunities. The experience is promising in many different areas. There are special opportunities for Hungarian enterprises in the fields of health care, pharmaceutical industry, export and outdoor use of water treatment equipment, banking technology in the field of IT or even in the field of security. We can even mention agricultural systems that have become famous as a classic Hungarian success sector.
Source: GLOBS Magazine