Opportunities and Challenges in Marketing Malaysian Palm Oil in West Africa
81
VIEWS
by Nor Iskahar Nordin
West Africa region has been the strongest growing economies in Africa for many years. Despite some slowing down relative to recent rates, the resilience of many of the region’s economies and the still-favourable medium-to-long-term prospects for business suggest the region cannot be ignored. This growth increase will be fuelled by domestic demand, continuing infrastructure investment and private consumption driven by lower oil prices. The medium-term growth outlook remains positive and according to IMF’s forecast, growth should remain above 6 percent, owing to continued strong domestic demand, while inflation is expected to remain subdued. In Côte d’Ivoire, continued public infrastructure investment and robust performance in services and agriculture supported growth. Guinea and Liberia returned to positive growth following the Ebola outbreak.

West Africa is an important market of Malaysian palm oil with more than one million MT of MPO imported into the region in 2015 and it’s expected to grow further in the years ahead. The oil palm is native to West Africa, but most of today’s production is small-scale and yet to reach its full potential. The region produced about 2.1 million MT of palm oil in 2014 but the demand far exceeded local production, leaving a demand gap of about 2.0 million MT per year.

This presentation discusses various challenges faced by palm oil exporters into the region. Despite these challenges, West Africa presents huge opportunities for industrial player to venture into the region and tap into this great potential market. West Africa will be able to buy more oils and fats because of improved purchasing power among the population, especially the growing middle income class. Recommendations are also made to give further encouragement for more Malaysian palm oil players to play active roles in the region to further increase our market share and consolidate our position in the near future.

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