[Interview] Fabrice Nze-Bekale, Managing Partner, ACT Afrique, Senegal
Fabrice Nze-Bekale is an experienced investment banker with a working history in investment banking, telecoms and the mining & metals industries. He is currently the Managing Partner of the pan-African firm, ACT Afrique.
Could you introduce your company?
ACT Afrique (ACT) is a pan-African capital, advisory and communication firm headquartered in Dakar, Senegal. ACT’s service offerings include, amongst other things, strategic and operational advisory, investment banking, financial and commercial intermediation and transformative communication support.
When was ACT founded and who leads the company today?
We got the company started in 2012 by Mr. Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, who has got over 30 years of experience in the public and private sector as well as development organizations like the Wordl Bank and IFC. I joined ACT in 2017 as Managing Partner after 22 years of experience in investment banking, telecoms and mining in the public and private sector.
Ibrahima and I are seconded by a team of professionals coming from different parts of Africa (Senegal, Niger, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire) whose background and expertise include management, consulting, public policy, marketing and accounting, communication, finance and audit, organizational change management, human capital development, banking and development issues in order to support public and private initiatives in Africa.
Who are your clients?
ACT serves a large spectrum of clients in both the public and private sector, at local and international level including: multinational and African companies, private financial institutions, financial development institutions, African governments, institutions and agencies, and non-profit organizations. For instance, we have advised the Government of Côte d’Ivoire during the merger of a fixed telecom operator and a mobile company, both partially owned by a French multinational, and the government. We have been advising a global NGO in improving the supply chain of medicines in West Africa. We advised a pan-African development finance institution on PPPs in social sectors last year. We are currently advising on the sell side of an M&A deal in the fast-growing private education sector.
What are the company’s Unique Selling Points?
First, as Africans with experience in both the private and public sector, in Africa, Europe, the States and China, we know well the local environment and are able to meet our clients' needs. We bring international standards to advisory with a unique African expertise. Second, we bring our clients more than a reputable signature. Clients today want more; they want strategic and operational advice. We are capable of intervening on the whole value chain of advisory: from ideas to structuring to raising capital to transaction support and project execution. This is different from mainstream advisory which will typically simply draft a report. We support our clients all the way. Third, we are a firm perfectly multilingual in Mandarin, Arab, English and French. Finally, we are one of the few African advisory firms with strong track record on China.
How is the company funded?
The company has been generating positive cashflows from its operations for some years now.
How has ACT evolved since its inception?
The company has grown rapidly. From one full time employee to 20 as of today. In this day and age, there is a competent African in every single field of human knowledge. So frankly there is no longer any reason for decision makers not to tap in this pool of talent. No one is better positioned than Africans knowing their environment and being competent to advise on Africa. In other words, there is no better African specialist than Africans themselves. This is what we, at ACT, embody.
What are the growth plans of ACT going forward?
Right from inception, ACT’s ambition was pan-African with a particular focus on a territory that stretches from Mauritania to Angola. It is part of our DNA to be pan-African.
We are covering this large band of territories from our HQ in Dakar. But we have opened a subsidiary in Abidjan, and we are planning to open new offices to better cover our markets and better serve our clients.
What we need to further our reach is new and worthy talents. Bright people who are passionate about Africa, with an entrepreneurial mindset, ambitio and integrity. People who want to contribute to Africa’s emergence from here.
In what direction will the company be going in this year?
We moved our Transformative communication activities into a subsidiary last year. We just poached a heavyweight person with more than 20 years of experience in communication to manage it. We have huge ambitions for this business going forward.
Another strategic decision that was made last year was to develop our own projects on a proprietary basis. We have identified opportunities in real estate as well as oil and gas so far. We are nurturing them now.
And of course, advisory will remain our bread and butter.
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