Africa-Ireland Economic Forum – Opportunities for Growth

Jun 22, 2016

Guest blog by Michael Alario, Boston College, Policy Intern with Chambers Ireland

The Africa Ireland Economic Forum was born in 2011 out of the Department of National Affairs’ re-imagined strategy for diplomatic and business development between Ireland and Africa. This is the third such Forum since then.

Giving the opening address, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, called for a concerted effort by the private sector, civil society and government to work alongside one another to deliver solutions. Using the airline industry as an example, Minister Mitchell-O’Connor told the room how just one year ago Ethiopian Airlines decided to open a direct flight between Dublin and Addis Abba and that there are now sixteen direct flights between the cities each week. This highlights the enormous potential business opportunities for both Ireland and the continent of Africa. 

Following the Minister’s address, Vice President of the Africa Development Bank, Charles Boamah, outlined a “plan of action for people planet and prosperity.” With representation from both the private and public sector, various figures listened as Mr. Boamah described the already strong and historically significant ties between Africa and Ireland while suggesting there is a great opportunity for a stronger economic and political relationship between the two. 

Vice President Boamah also highlighted the important role that infrastructure investment will play in Africa’s future, suggesting the potential for Irish firms to develop alongside African partners in delivering this objective. Within the Africa Development Bank’s five point plan to success, Boamah singled out the need to light up the continent with power and the called for an ambitious goal of 100% power connection by the year 2025.

Attendees were informed that Africa is a diverse, fifty four nation continent, and it is important to avoid falling into the trap of a single narrative. In an attempt to change this preconceived notion of Africa as one entity, Mr. Ronan MacNioclais, partner at PWC, gave an overview of information published by his firm highlighting specific cities suitable for investment. Listing place such as Accra, Nairobi, and Cairo the report emphasized the various prospective urban centres ready for development.

The overall tone of the conference suggests a highly optimistic future for the relationship between Ireland and Africa. There is enormous potential for businesses in both areas to benefit from better relationships and the forum itself provided an opportunity for networking and the sharing of ideas. As countries in Africa develop stronger economies, Irish business finds itself in a strong position to partner with an emerging global economic force.

For more information on doing business in Africa, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website

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