300 businesses want to invest in Africa

At least 300 local businesses, especially agro-producers and garment makers, are seeking to invest in African countries to grab the benefits of the rising economies of the continent.

“(They) contacted us to make investments in Africa over the last two or three months,” said Amin Helali, secretary of Bangladesh Africa Investment Forum, a platform of local investors.

Many Bangladeshi investors have already poured money into different projects in Africa, he said.

Most of these investors belong to the group of people who left the country years ago for jobs and are now residing in African countries, he said. “They did not make investment in Africa by remitting money from Bangladesh.”

The agro producers want to invest in Africa thanks to the availability of vast areas suitable for cultivation of vegetables and rice and the presence of a potential market to sell the produce, he said.

“We need a guideline from the banking watchdog which can ensure protection of the money Bangladeshi businesses invested abroad,” Helali said.

Bangladesh Bank has so far received over 100 applications seeking permission to invest in Africa and given go-ahead to six of them, said an official of the central bank.

The banking regulator is now examining the proposals case-by-case to give approval to the companies interested to invest in Africa.

The demand for low-cost agro-products and processed foods is very high in Africa, Helali said. For instance, the foods processed in Bangladesh by Brac, Pran and Square have huge demand in African countries.

The garment makers want to invest in Africa to enjoy the zero-duty benefit that the US gives to the products originated in Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The government has given the green light to local DBL Group to invest in the African garment sector.

“We have started production in our Ethiopian factory in May this year. We will make the first shipment this month,” said MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, a Bangladeshi garment exporter.

Jabbar said he has a target to export $38 million worth of garment items from the Ethiopian plant every year.

Some 1,290 people work in the factory set up at a cost of $32 million; of the employees 200 were recruited from Bangladesh, he said. “We set up the factory in Ethiopia mainly to take benefit of the AGOA and shorter lead times.”

“I want to invest in production of vegetables, butter, dairy, rice and maize in Uganda,” said Manik Sanyal, managing director of Business Firm Ltd, a Tangail-based agro product company.

“If possible I want to establish a fishery in Uganda,” said Sanyal, who runs seed and tea businesses in Bangladesh.

Helali, also the chairman of Dosh Disha Group, signed an agreement with the Ugandan agricultural ministry to acquire 20,000 hectares of land for farming paddy and other agricultural products in 2011.

The project is yet to be implemented as the government is delaying to give approval for foreign investment, he said.

“Had the agreement gone through, I would have produced paddy in Uganda. Of the total produce, 60 percent would have been brought to Bangladesh and 40 percent would have been sold in the Ugandan markets.” The Chinese and Indian companies are acquiring thousands of hectares of land in different African countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda and Congo.

Bangladeshi businesses sought the government's support to invest in African nations long before their counterparts in other Asian countries, but they are still lagging far behind.

“I have been receiving either phone calls or applications from different entrepreneurs seeking approval for investment in Uganda,” said Abul Hossain, honorary consul of Uganda in Bangladesh.

Apart from agriculture, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have the opportunity to invest in different sectors, including pharmaceuticals, ceramics, jute and jute goods and food processing, he said.

“We will take a group of investors from Bangladesh to Uganda in September or October to conduct a feasibility study for making new investments there.”

Last week, leaders of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), a platform of investors, urged the government to formulate a specific policy to allow local companies to invest abroad as many domestic industrial conglomerates are now capable of doing so.

“Many Bangladeshi enterprises have acquired adequate technical knowledge and financial capacities to compete in international markets,” said Hafizur Rahman Khan, the immediate past president of the IBFB.


১ ঘণ্টা আগে|সাহিত্য

পিতৃতান্ত্রিকতার অবরোধ ও ইতিহাসের মুক্তি

তা ইতিহাসের মুক্তির কথা তো বলছি, কিন্তু ওই বস্তুটা কী তা ঠিক করে নেওয়া চাই প্রথমেই। ইতিহাসের মুক্তি বলতে রাজা-বাদশা বিশেষ শ্রেণী বা গোষ্ঠীর মুক্তির কথা অবশ্যই বোঝাচ্ছি না। বোঝাচ্ছি মানুষের সমষ্টিগত...