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Cash, Risk and Relationships: A Successful Approach in Africa

by R. Paul Davis LL.D., Group General Counsel, PacNet Services Ltd

PacNet Services Ltd (PacNet) has a very specific business objective: to facilitate small payments between businesses and consumers efficiently and consistently across the world. Africa is a key part of this strategy. Currently, we operate in 20% of African countries, which amounts to around 90% of our potential market, with particular strength in the Common Monetary Area in southern Africa (Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland). We also have regional representation in Egypt (North Africa), Kenya (East Africa), Morocco (Middle East & North Africa) and relationships in Gabon and Benin to support French-speaking Central and Western Africa.

Our regional approach to Africa demonstrates one of the most important issues for corporations considering opening or expanding their business on the continent. Africa comprises 54 countries, each of which has its own tax, fiscal and economic environment and unique cultural heritage. Consequently, foreign multinationals need to plan their strategy and operating practices for each individual market.

Criteria for doing business

Our group treasury function is based in Vancouver, Canada, with a supporting operation in Shannon, Ireland. We have two key treasury principles that shape the way we manage our cash, treasury and risk management activities: SWIFT access and currency convertibility.