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Tánaiste backs new trade partnership with Africa

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore with Ifrah Ahmed from Somalia, a Female Genital Mutilation campaigner

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore with Ifrah Ahmed from Somalia, a Female Genital Mutilation campaigner

Tánaiste & Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore 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.

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.

Read the full press release here.