Accueil » Why promoting export zones?

Promote the development of competitive manufacturing export activities in 15 african countries
An opportunity for french enterprises to optimize their value chain?
An alternative to asian and eastern-european countries?
Which countries have the best “attractiveness”?
Which benefits, which risks can be expected?


 The objective of the Observatory “Europe-Africa 2020” is to assess the above issues and to provide well-argued answers


  • The economic development of Africa is vital for the future of Europe
  • The development of exporting manufaturing activities is a key condition for the economic development of Africa
  • However, except South-Africa, Egypt and Maghreb countries, the manufacturing structure in most sectors (car manufacturing, metallurgy, mechanical Equipment, chemicals, textiles…) is almost non-existent
  • The french enterprises can contribute significantly to the development of these exporting manufacturing activities, by integrating an “african” link into their value chain
  • Given the increase of production costs in asian “low cost” countries and in Central european countries, many french enterprise deciders try to assess this issue: Which african countries may be an alternative?


These issues are articulated around 6 thematics, as mentioned in the following table.

Economic development
Political and institutional stabilityQualification, cost and productivity of mnpower
Performing free trade zones or economic free zonesAvailability and price of energy
Transport and logistics efficiency

1: Political and institutional context

  • Among the 15 african countries covered by the Observatory, which ones benefit from a stable political context (rule of law, democracy, security) and fair institutional environment (transparency, low corruption)?


2: Economic context

  • Which african countries have successfully diversified their economies in the past few years? Which ones have built an appropriated industrial background, with potential suppliers being able to provide the necessary inputs for a given sector of activity?
  • Within which timeframe can an advantage be expected  to set-up industrial partnerships in Africa ?
  • Are such partnerships also an opportunity for penetrating the african market?
  • Which enterprises are the most “pro-active” in building partnerships with african partners: german, french, italian, chinese, indian ones?
  • What added value can a european enterprise expect from an industrial partnership in Africa? In which sectors would this added value be maximum?

3: Manpower

  • What are the unit labour costs in african countries. How do they compare with the costs prevailing in China, India, Vietnam and Philippines ? 
  • What is the labour productivity in african countries? How is it expected to evolve in the medium-term 
  • Are the low language and cultural barriers between african and european countries an opportunity for better reactivity, improved quality and shorter manufacturing time, compared with asian countries ?

4: Transport and logistics

  • Despite lower distances, the maritime transport rates between Africa and Europe are higher than between Asia and Europe. Is it realistic to expect a decrease of these rates? In which timeframe?
  • Which savings on greenhouse gas and atmospheric pollutants emissions would result from the shift of some Asia-Europe maritime trafics to Africa-Europe trafics ?
  • Are local transport costs, short-sea shipping costs and port handling costs in african countries competitive with other areas in the world? How will these costs evolve in the medium-term?

5: Energy

  • In the 15 african countries covered by the Observatory, what are the prices and availability of industrial power and fuel, compared with other areas of the world? 

6: Cooperation and incentives

  • Among the 15 african countries covered by the Observatory, which ones have successfully developped free trade zones being specialised in leading sectors? Which advantages can result from  investing in a free zone for a european investor?