Ireland is actively seeking closer trade ties with Africa, says Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan. The Minister led a high-level delegation from Ireland on the latest in a series of trade missions to South Africa and Nigeria, facilitated by Enterprise Ireland.

The delegation includes the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, and executives from 34 top Irish enterprises

Minister Flanagan notes that the trade mission is in line with Ireland’s Africa Strategy, which was unveiled at the first Africa Ireland Economic Forum in September 2011.

“The Africa Strategy emphasises that Ireland is well positioned to play a greater role in Africa,” says Minister Flanagan. It is a long-term strategy encompassing bilateral trade growth, significant development initiatives and increased collaboration. Spearheading Ireland’s trade development initiatives, Enterprise Ireland established an office in Johannesburg in 2013, followed by an office in Lagos, and is now also looking to expand its presence into Nairobi.

“Africa, and specifically key growth hubs such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, are strategically important markets for Ireland. Ireland has emerged as a world leader in several high tech industry sectors, which positions Irish business to deliver to African markets the advanced services and products Africa needs to accelerate its growth into a knowledge economy.

“Ireland is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the fastest growing in Europe. We are one of the most open economies in the world today. With exports to 150 countries totalling R2,6-trillion (€190-billion), Ireland is the world’s biggest exporter of pharmaceuticals and second largest exporter of software. Ireland is also a recognised innovation leader in sectors such as food, manufacturing, engineering, clean tech, construction, life sciences, health care, education and e-learning, financial services, telecommunications and print paper and packaging. Ireland’s exports to South Africa alone now exceed R15-billion, with an annual growth of around 20%.”

Fred Klinkenberg, Enterprise Ireland’s country manager for South Africa, says the top-level visit is an indication of the strategic importance of the African market for Irish business. “Africa is open for business, presenting a wealth of opportunity for Irish business. Trade missions such as this seek to increase awareness and facilitate win-win partnerships for African and Irish businesses.”

Through Enterprise Ireland, over 200 Irish businesses are already active in South Africa, employing over 13 000 people.