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Africa Ireland Economic Forum 2016

First held in 2011, the Africa Ireland Economic Forum (AIEF) is hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with the African Ambassadors in Ireland.

AIEF is a flagship event of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa Strategy, and provides a key networking opportunity for African and Irish businesses to discuss opportunities in Africa and identify areas for mutually beneficial trade and investment. The fifth Forum was held on 17 June 2016 in the Convention Centre Dublin and attracted approximately 450 people.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Joe McHugh, T.D., Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, meet with Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister for Aviation, Nigeria.

Speakers at the 2016 event included Mr Charles Boamah, Vice President of the African Development Bank, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation of Nigeria, Dr Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Dr Nelson Magbagbeola, Secretary General of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation formally opened AIEF 2016. Noting that Ireland’s embassies in Africa were fully geared up to support trade and investment, Minister Mitchell O’Connor underlined the potential for Ireland to position itself as a long-term trade and investment partner in the region, and for Irish companies to deliver innovative solutions in partnership with Governments and civil society in line with the 2030 Agenda. Read the full text of Minister O'Connor's speech.

The keynote address delivered by Mr Charles Boamah, Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), highlighted the resilience of African economies and the priorities of the AfDB’s “High5s” Programme to support development in the region, focusing on light and power, food security, industrialisation, integration and improving quality of life. Echoing Minister Mitchell O’Connor’s address, Mr Boamah emphasised that achieving these priorities in line with the 2030 Agenda, provides a significant opportunity to enhance collaboration between public and private sectors, including partnerships with Ireland and the Irish private sector that can address the equally significant and unmet needs in Africa. Read the full text of Mr Boamah’s speech and view his presentation on the work of the African Development Bank.

A short overview from PwC of the opportunities for Irish businesses in Africa was followed by a panel discussion, which included Joe McHugh, T.D., Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, and examined recent economic trends in Africa, opportunities and challenges for the private sector, and the shared experience of building stronger economic relations between Ireland and Africa. An audio file and full report of the panel discussion are available to download.

During the afternoon session, detailed sectoral discussions focused on the Agri-Business, Energy & Clean Tech, and Aviation & Aerospace sectors:

Agri-Business

Discussions addressed the opportunities and challenges of doing agri-business in Africa in terms of promoting economic growth and jobs, addressing food security and supporting sustainable long term development. Panel members also highlighted the experiences of Irish agri-businesses as world leaders in their sector and a key driver of the Irish economy, as well as their increasing involvement and investment in Africa and where the opportunities are for future engagement. Read the full report of the Agri-Business discussions.

Energy & Clean Tech

Discussions focused on energy and water as critical components currently constraining economic growth and development in Africa, the challenges facing the energy sector and the opportunities for Irish companies to contribute to innovative, clean tech solutions. Read the full report of the Energey & Clean Tech discussions.

Aviation & Aerospace

Connectivity was highlighted as a key component of long-term economic development. The aviation and aerospace sectors in Africa are developing at a rapid pace, and having highlighted some of the trends within these sectors in Africa, the opportunities for development and partnerships with Irish business were explored. Read the full report of the Aviation & Aerospace discussions.

The event concluded with a presentation from Dr Nelson Magbagbeola of ECOWAS and a closing address from H.E. Mrs. Lela-Alem Gebreyohannes Tedla, on behalf of the African diplomatic corps in Ireland.

With approximately 450 participants, the 5th Africa Ireland Economic Forum was the largest to date, capturing the significant progress achieved in Ireland’s trade and economic relations with Africa since the launch of the Africa Strategy in 2011. It also provided an opportunity to launch the new Business Ireland Africa network and to showcase the work of African embassies and private sector groups promoting Ireland-Africa trade and investment, including Winning Business in Africa – an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, IBEC, and Schumann Associates, which enables companies to participate in European Development Fund (EDF) projects in Africa.