Gilmore begins East Africa visit

Wed, Jul 25, 2012, 01:00

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will today begin a six day visit of East Africa to see the impact of Irish Aid and highlight trade opportunities

Mr Gilmore, also Minister for Foreign Affairs, will first visit Uganda before visiting Kenya as he looks at ways to increase trade with the region.

The Tánaiste will also see the impact of Irish Aid programmes during his visit which begins in Uganda. He will see how Ireland’s support to the poorest communities has contributed to a 50 per cent decrease in the number of people surviving on less than $1.25 a day.

The Tánaiste will also host a business breakfast with Irish and Ugandan businesspeople to examine opportunities for greater trade between the two countries.

The Tánaiste’s visit to Kenya is focused on increasing trade and investment opportunities for Irish companies in telecoms, medical supplies and other sectors. He will host a business seminar for up to 40 Kenyan and Irish businesses.

“Uganda has come a long way since the dark days of conflict in the 1970s and 1980s which cost hundreds of thousands of lives and led to the collapse of social and economic infrastructure,” he said.

“Today, with the support of donors including Ireland, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has halved, while the number of children attending school has tripled to almost 8.5 million over the past 15 years.

“However, Uganda still faces major challenges, with almost seven million people living in poverty."

He said that Kenya serves as a crucial gateway to East Africa.

“We are working harder than ever to research sectors and markets where there are potential matches between Irish competencies and African demand.

“My visit to Kenya is designed to help us convert these links into trade and investment opportunities which will benefit both Ireland and Africa in the long-term.”

Irish Aid programmes in Uganda, which are funded by taxpayers, are focused on improving access to education, tackling HIV and AIDS and improving economic opportunities for the most vulnerable people. In Karamoja, the poorest area of the country, more than three-quarters of the population live in chronic poverty and one infant out of every 10 dies in childbirth.

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