In our “5 Questions” series, we ask partners in the AFTS ecosystem to share about their work and unique perspective on fintech. This “5 Questions” interview is with Moritz Weigel, Founding Director of The China Africa Advisory.
Briefly, can you describe the focus and scope of the CAA’s work?
We are an independent German advisory firm that brings sustainable investment to Africa by generating market insights and facilitating innovative B2B and B2G partnerships. Headquartered in Cologne with representations in Addis Ababa, Dakar, and Libreville on the continent as well as in Beijing and Chengdu in China, we are delivering projects in manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, technology and logistics.
Tell us about your role in bridging the African-Chinese trade & digital gap. Your founding partners are of Ethiopian & German origin, with extensive Chinese experience and language skills. How is this coming handy in helping African businesses succeed in China and vice versa?
As a German company, we often take the role of a neutral facilitator when it comes to cooperation between African and Chinese partners. A key component of our success is indeed our understanding of the business cultures on both sides. Our Chinese clients value our local expertise in navigating African markets. While in many cases our clients are manufacturers who wish to test the waters through export, our goal is always investment and local production. We also have an increasing number of clients who simply seek investment opportunities, including in fintech. They recognise the great potential of financial technology in Africa given their own experience of the last years in China. The advisory services we provide for African clients is focussed on bringing African brands, rather than goods, into China’s massive consumer market. Taking an African fintech brand to China would be a dream come true.
You have been involved in China’s Belt & Road initiative in Africa. Can you tell us more about this initiative, and how African businesses, especially fintechs, can benefit from this?
Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China offers many opportunities for cooperation with African partners. With regard to business, this includes, for example, support for Chinese companies to invest in African countries, including in some African countries’ striving fintech sector. African companies should be proactive here and seek investment from, or strategic partnerships with, Chinese partners. This can be done through new business platforms that are emerging under the Belt and Road Initiative, such as the China-Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Summit, or existing associations and networks, such as the China-Africa Business Council that we are also part of. African companies can also benefit indirectly from the Belt and Road Initiative as China’s increasing engagement in Africa is finally putting African markets more on the agenda of investors from other countries, including Germany, Japan, Korea and the United States. Here it can be useful for African fintechs to play potential investors strategically against each other.
What are some developments in fintech that you are excited to see both in China and Africa?
Clearly, the rise of financial inclusion and new business opportunities! China has been spearheading developments in this area, both in urban and rural settings, and became a technology leader in fintech, by the way now also fully embracing blockchain technology as part of its national development. In a number of African countries we can now see vibrant start-up scenes joining the handful of already well-established fintech companies with many new promising business models being developed and put into action as we speak. With regard to business between African countries and China, the emerging fintech solutions for e-commerce are very important and exciting.
Why are you excited to partner with Africa Fintech Summit in Addis Ababa?
The Africa Fintech Summit is a unique platform that for the first time brings fintech thought-leaders from across the continent together with international investors in Addis Ababa. For us, the Summit is a must both in terms of business development and for first-hand insights on the quickly evolving African fintech landscape.