In 1956, British companies with interests in West Africa set up an organisation to aid and stimulate economic development through business. The new organisation gradually expanded to include firms from France, the Netherlands and the USA, providing trade information and intelligence on import and exchange controls and taxation and economic planning to members, encompassing businesses in the oil, mining, shipping, banking, accounting and trade sectors.
The mantra was ‘Pushing African businesses forward’ and in 2000 WAC became the West Africa Business Association (WABA) with a new name and a refreshed mission – promoting business and encouraging the development of business opportunities both in and with West Africa.
Africa had moved to the top of the global agenda whether Anglophone, Francophone and Lusaphone.
During the seventies and eighties, a number of SADC countries, Zambia. Malawi, Namibia and Botswana became associated via The Southern African Business Forum SABA, but the desire to broaden membership further to embrace South Africa eventually lost momentum without the possibility of any formal recognition and financial support from either government.
In 2009 the British Nigeria Business Council was subsumed bringing with it funds and importantly knowledge, expertise and contacts. This enabled a full-service Nigeria Desk to be established to provide more extensive coverage of that country and the organisation’s name was changed to The Business Council for Africa, a company limited by guarantee.
As only one of a number of private sector bodies focussed on African business, BCA had become the most widely known and respected as a result of its wide network of representatives on the ground in sub-saharan Africa. In recent years, it had become increasingly evident that pure membership bodies could not be financially viable, thus leading the board in May 2018 to divest itself of its commercial operations to Invest Africa.