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Tanaiste begins visit to Uganda and Kenya

Governance, Trade, News/feature, Uganda, 2012

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., will look at ways to increase trade between Ireland and East Africa as part of his five-day visit to Uganda and Kenya which begins today (Wednesday July 25th).

The Tánaiste will also see the impact of Irish Aid programmes during his visit which begins in Uganda, where he will see how Ireland’s support to the poorest communities has contributed to a 50% 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 business leaders 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 businesspeople. 

Speaking ahead of his visit, the Tánaiste said:

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. 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 7 million people living in poverty. Our targeted programmes support the poorest families to improve their livelihoods, allowing them to send their children to school, access healthcare and invest in their futures. We are also working to enhance the capacity of the private sector to provide jobs and economic opportunities.

“During my visit I will also meet leading Irish and Ugandan businesspeople to discuss opportunities for bilateral trade and investment which will benefit both countries. Like many African countries, Uganda is experiencing strong economic growth, which opens up opportunities to greatly expand our existing trade and investment links.”

In Kenya, the Tánaiste will host a series of business meetings and oversee the signing of agreements between Irish and Kenyan companies. The Tánaiste said:

“Africa is a dynamic continent, where growth rates in many countries reached 7% over the last five years. According to the IMF, economic growth across the continent is expected to surpass 5% a year to 2015. While it is growing from a low base and the growth is unevenly spread, there is no doubt that Africa has enormous potential in the long-term.

“Kenya serves as a crucial gateway to East Africa. In line with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa Strategy, my Department is 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.”