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Minister McHugh hosts reception to open Africa Ireland Economic Forum

The Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Mr Joe McHugh T.D., this evening hosted a reception in Iveagh House to open the fifth Africa Ireland Economic Forum, which will take place in The Convention Centre Dublin on 17 June 2016. Organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with African ambassadors resident in Ireland, the Economic Forum is a flagship event of the Department’s Africa Strategy. Over 300 people are expected to attend from both Ireland and Africa, bringing together businesses and policy makers to discuss the trade and investment potential that is increasingly evident to Irish companies.

Minister McHugh welcomed invited guests including Mr Charles Boamah, Vice President of the African Development Bank, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation of Nigeria and Dr Nelson Magbagbeola, Secretary General of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, and members of the African diplomatic community in Ireland. Speaking at the reception, Minister McHugh said:

“Since the first Irish Embassy in Africa was established in Nigeria in 1961, our diplomatic network has worked tirelessly to forge what is now a multifaceted and dynamic relationship with the African continent. The reopening of our Embassy in Kenya in 2014 was a clear signal of the Government’s determination to enhance economic engagement with Africa.

"In developing economic relations, our Embassies work hand in glove with the State Agencies, Government Departments, business representative organisations and business networks.

"I am delighted to welcome so many Irish business representatives, whose presence – from a range of sectors and, indeed, levels of experience in engaging with Africa – demonstrates the real interest in forging a strong business relationship with the continent.”

Minister McHugh also launched the Irish Chapter of Business Ireland Africa, a private sector initiative of business networks that works closely with Irish embassies. Minister McHugh said:

“With 1,000 members already in Africa and Chapters active in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi and Harare, Business Ireland Africa aims to provide practical support to both Irish business in Africa and African business in Ireland.

"The network is already a valued partner of our Embassies in South Africa and Kenya. The insights and expertise of businesses operational on the ground, and the support they can offer to new entrants, provide an important complement to the economic work of the Embassies and State Agencies. The initiative is also an example of how we can harness the power of our diaspora to make a positive contribution to economic development at home and abroad.

"A huge advantage of the approach of Business Ireland Africa is that the Irish chapter will be directly connected back to the chapters in Africa, ensuring a good two-way flow of information and intelligence, and facilitating effective networking.

"As well as encouraging African investment in Ireland, I believe the Irish chapter can make an important contribution in reaching out to strong, market-ready companies based here in Ireland which have not yet explored opportunities in Africa.”