Ibec initiative makes €7 billion African project fund accessible to Irish firms
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today announced details of a joint programme with the Department of Foreign Affairs to help Irish companies compete with other European businesses for billions of European Development Funds (EDF) earmarked for projects up to 2020. The Winning Business in Africa programme is an online one-stop-shop for companies providing the information and support needed to bid on over 200 projects in Sub-Saharan countries worth €7 billion. The comprehensive database is backed up with advice and support, from funding experts Schuman Associates, for companies that want to access these contracts.
Irish export trade with Africa has decreased in recent years, and is now at €1.32 billion, but there is now an opportunity to drive growth. Sub-Saharan countries experienced 3.8% growth last year, which is why Winning Business in Africa is strategically focused on key growth sectors critical for economic development. There are currently over 200 projects businesses can get involved in, their worth across these key sectors are:
· Infrastructure and engineering: €3.7 billion
· Agriculture: €1.5 billion
· ICT: €1 billion
Ibec Director of Corporate, Strategic and International Affairs Mary Rose Burke said: "Ibec's Winning Business in Africa online portal now includes more than 200 European Development Fund projects amounting to €7 billion in opportunities. Africa is not an easy market to tap into, but these EDF contracts offer low-risk entry with pre-approved funding. A number of companies have had success in Africa and we are now encouraging more companies to bid on these projects."
Ibec Director of the Irish Engineering Enterprises Federation Mark McAuley said: "Irish company, PM Group, recently gained approval to work with the Ministry of Health in Zambia on a €2.5 million project to assist the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority to ensure quality control. Some Irish companies may be too small to bid for these projects, but there is a chance now for partnering-up, networking and cooperation with other companies. Irish companies who register will get early notice of new contracts, making it easier for them to expand across key sectors such as engineering where there is a €3.7 billion fund available."
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan said: “I am delighted that the Winning Business in Africa II project between my Department and Ibec is moving into a new phase, and the online portal is now available to all interested Irish companies. This project is another example of how my Department is engaging with partners at home and abroad to help Irish companies avail of new opportunities overseas through economic diplomacy. Trade relationships between Irish and African companies facilitate economic progress at home and abroad and, following my own visit to Africa last year, leading a trade mission, I believe there is great scope to establish new partnership arrangements."
Minister of State at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for Development, Trade Promotion and North South co-operation, Sean Sherlock said: “Supporting Irish companies pursue trade and investment opportunities in Africa has been a priority for our engagement with Africa, particularly since the launch of our Africa Strategy in 2011. The Winning Business in Africa II project is already bearing fruit and shows that these opportunities can be realised and have real outcomes for Irish businesses.”
Companies can register online for Winning Business in Africa by visiting http://www.wbia.ie.