Meet Karl Bertil Åkesson, the new honorary consul of Sweden in Madagascar, with the ambition of promoting Swedish businesses, culture and tourism. At the age of twenty, Bertil entered the business community in Madagascar where he started to manage several family businesses parallel to obtaining a degree in economics. Karl Bertil Åkesson spoke about his new assignment as Honorary Consul, his Swedish and Madagascar roots and his vision of promoting Swedish business and tourism in Madagascar.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in 1992 in Antananarivo, Madagascar, to a Swedish father and Malagasy mother. I moved to Switzerland at a very young age to study at a boarding school where I spent six years before moving to London for my studies in economics at the university. Unfortunately, my father passed away before I completed my studies in London. I immediately moved back home to Madagascar to take over my father’s businesses. As a 20 year old, it was truly challenging to manage several businesses in parallel to completing my studies. But with a massive commitment to personal development and strong role models anything is possible.
As a young consul, has it always been your dream to represent Sweden?
My father used to ask me what my dream job would be when growing up. And I used to answer that I wanted to be just like him! He was my role model when growing up and my accomplishments are thanks to him. It’s a great honor and a dream come true to be assigned the role of Honorary Consul of Sweden in Madagascar and to assist Swedish citizens and companies here.
How relevant is the consulate in Madagascar for Sweden?
Very relevant! There are a few Swedish residents in Madagascar, and 2-300 Swedish tourists visiting Madagascar every year. On top of that, there are Swedish companies that have a direct interest in Madagascar. But since it’s a relatively new geographic location for Swedish investments, the need for assistance and support is growing. Moreover, it’s important to attract more Swedish companies to trade and invest in Madagascar as the country has great potential. There are also other potential areas of cooperation between Sweden and Madagascar. Madagascar has been severely hit by climate change and deforestation is a major issue, Sweden has the experience and expertise to assist Madagascar in this area.
How will you work with the Swedish community in Madagascar?
The consulate is in the capital city, in an area where everyone can access. Therefore, I would love to arrange a social gathering with the Swedish community in order to establish relations and improve communication with them. From this, I believe we can work closer together where I can assist, help and advise the Swedish community in all matters where I have the knowledge.
How is the tourism in Madagascar?
As a tourist, you will find many different interesting sites all through the geographic landscape of the country. The huge diversity of landscapes in Madagascar match its exceptional range of endemic, exotic species that you can’t find anywhere in the world. However, since these places are remote from the capital city, access is difficult and I would recommend having access to a car to see more of the beautiful and unique landscape of Madagascar. As a tourist, there are great opportunities for outdoor activities for the more adventurous tourists, and also beautiful beaches for relaxation.