Time to get into Africa?

Irish Exporters Association reckons exports to Africa could reach €24 billion by end of decade


The idea of promoting economic and social expansion through trade has long been to the fore in Africa, but less so among Irish firms that could be looking at the continent for their own growth.

Research from Barclays Bank Ireland to mark Africa Week has found that while the vast majority of Irish firms get the concept of selling into Africa, less than 10 per cent plan to take “full” advantage of the potential opportunities.

This is despite recognising that looking outside the euro zone for new business is a smart way to go.

In the case of Africa, annual exports of goods and services from Ireland topped €2.5 billion at last count, but the Irish Exporters Association reckons they could reach €24 billion by the end of the decade.

This means moving beyond the business levels already achieved by Irish pioneers such as Kerry and Irish Distillers.

“Irish businesses remain cautious about Africa and believe it is a challenging place to do business, with high levels of bureaucracy, transportation costs and perceived corruption,” says Benette van Dyk, director of trade finance at Barclays Bank Ireland.

Van Dyk reckons that doing business in Africa is “easier than many businesses realise”, with a number of established trading hubs such as South Africa, Zambia and Kenya having built up good governance structures.

As well as food and beverage exports, Barclays has identified infrastructure, life sciences, IT and telecommunications as sectors ripe for expansion.

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