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Tánaiste backs new trade-based partnership with Africa

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., today highlighted the growth potential for Irish companies doing business in Africa.

Speaking at the Africa-Ireland Economic Forum in UCD’s Smurfit Business School, the Tánaiste insisted it was time to move away from the donor-recipient relationship with Africa towards one of partnership and collaboration:

“Africa is generating remarkable economic growth and, according to the IMF, will have the fastest-growing economy of any continent over the next five years. This opens up new opportunities for Africa and for Ireland.”

According to the Irish Exporters’ Association (IEA), exports of Irish goods and services to Africa reached €2.7 billion last year – an increase of 200 percent since 2009. The IEA expects Irish exports to Africa to hit €24 billion by 2020.

Underlining the importance of trade with Africa to the Irish economy, the Tánaiste added:

“Access to new markets and new opportunities abroad for Irish business is crucial to rebuilding our economy and creating jobs. As one of the world’s most open economies we know that we need to look outwards to grasp new economic opportunities and to drive recovery. Promoting Ireland for trade and investment is a priority for me, my Department and our network of Embassies abroad”

This year’s Forum is the largest ever gathering of African and Irish business leaders, with Directors and CEOs from over 200 Irish companies and delegates from more than 20 African countries in attendance.

Discussions and presentations from top Irish and African business leaders will cover opportunities in agri-business, partnerships, ICT/Telecommunications, financial services and the diaspora.

Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., who will lead a trade mission to South Africa and Nigeria next month, opened the Forum and spoke of the synergy between Ireland’s trade and development priorities in Africa:

“From the African side, the consistent message that we are hearing is that African countries want more trade and investment links to help them to grow their economies, to create and sustain employment and livelihoods.

“Mutually beneficial trade is a win-win for Africa and for Ireland and today’s forum is an important opportunity for us to build on our long-standing ties of friendship and trade.”

The Tánaiste also announced the establishment of the Mwangi Business Scholarship, which will provide a fully-funded place each year for the next three years for an African businesswoman on the prestigious UCD Masters in Business Administration programme.

The MBA scholarship will be jointly funded by the UCD School of Business and by Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development. The award is named in the memory of Mbugua Mwangi, son of the former Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland. Mbugua Mwangi and his fiancée Rosemary Wahito died tragically in the recent terrorist attack in Nairobi.

Press Office

3 October 2013

Note for Editors

· The Africa Ireland Economic Forum is organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Enterprise Ireland, UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School and the African Diplomatic Corps in Ireland.

· The Forum seeks to strengthen economic ties between Africa and Ireland and to assist Irish companies in entering the African market place by highlighting opportunities and positive experiences of Irish companies exporting successfully to Africa.

· The Mwangi Business Scholarship is named in memory of Mbugua Mwangi the son of former the Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland, Catherine Mwangi, and as a mark of solidarity with the people of Kenya. Ambassador Mwangi opened the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Dublin in 2007 and returned to Nairobi in August. In the intervening six years she helped shape a more positive and forward looking image of Kenya and of Africa here in Ireland and has been a key driving force behind the Africa Ireland Economic Forum.