Challenges ahead for Trade Promotion Organizations in Africa

This study provides an anatomy of the activities of Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly LDCs. Both opportunities and challenges facing TPOs were identified by using a quantitative survey administered online and a structured questionnaire used during phone interviews. The study relied on ITCs’ TPO Network and contacts through FERDI and IGC. Of the 40 online invitations, 12 were filled out and of the 20 invitations for phone interviews, 6 were obtained. Almost all answers were from TPOs not covered in previous evaluations.  Data from the online survey were compared with results from previous surveys mostly outside SSA. TPOs in SSA are young, relative to those elsewhere (half were started after 2007) and relatively small (average of 25 employees). Strategic objectives from 88 TPOs previously evaluated are systematically compared.  Comparisons with the data gathered for this study reveal a higher elasticity of budget size to employee for SSA than elsewhere probably suggesting greater diversification into new supporting activities in SSA than elsewhere.The study summarizes the challenges and opportunities in each area of operation gathered from the phone interviews (see table 7). The phone interviews revealed that successes were concentrated in the agricultural activities. Word-cloud analysis uncovered convergence of themes (market access, audit, performance). Two challenges facing TPOs in the future are issues relating to the use of the internet and helping firms integrate into value chains (regional or global).AcknowledgementWe thank Anders Aeroe and Anne Chappaz for guidance, Marcelo Olarreaga for feedback during preparation, and Henar Bonet Vega, Ben Mohamed Imamo, Saskia Marx, Andrea Santoni, for their help in contacting TPOs. Collaboration from colleagues at FERDI and IGC helped us expand the sample. We thank all the staff of the Trade Promotion Organizations included in this study for their time and contributions that remain anonymous to retain confidentiality.

Boffa M., de Melo J. (2018) "Challenges ahead for Trade Promotion Organizations in Africa", FERDI Working paper P232, September.