The Acting High Commissioner, Mrs. Grace Cerere, attended the Africa Heads of Mission Meeting which was held in Edinburgh, Scotland from 19th – 21st September 2018. The meeting was organized by the Scotland Africa Business Exchange (SABE) in conjunction with the Scottish Government and the Edinburgh City Council.
The main objective of the forum was to provide a platform for the Scottish Government and the African Heads of Mission to discuss and identify potential areas of collaboration between Africa and Scotland. It also provided an opportunity for the respective African Heads of Missions to promote a range of investment opportunities to the Scottish business community. Further, the forum provided an avenue for cultural exchanges between Scotland and Africa, including Scottish Universities.
A number of thematic seminars were organized to achieve the Forum’s objective. These included seminars on health, education, information technology, renewable energy, agriculture & aquaculture as well as Oil and Gas. Further, a roundtable discussion on accessing Africa for Scottish Business & Social Enterprises hosted by Eoghan Mackie, the Chief Executive officer at Challenges Worldwide Ltd. was held on 21st September 2018 at the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University. The discussions concentrated on a range of sectors in which Scotland excels, and are considered priorities by many African Governments, such as renewable energy, education, oil & gas, and agriculture.
Thirteen African Missions were represented at the forum. These included Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Congo. On the other hand, the Senior Scottish Government officials present at the forum included: Hon. Frank Ross, the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh; Mr. Ben Macpherson the Minister for Europe, Migration, and International Development at the Edinburgh City Chambers and the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Hon. Ivan McKee MSP among others.
The Hon. Frank Ross, the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, while welcoming the Heads of Mission to Edinburgh highlighted that Scotland had a lot to offer to Africa particularly in the areas of Agriculture, infrastructure development and oil and gas and expressed Scotland’s willingness to partner with Africa.
Speaking at the Forum the Acting High Commissioner underscored Kenya’s positive and conducive investment environment that has made the country attractive to international firms seeking a location for investments in sub-region. Mrs. Cerere noted that the country has continued to make improvements to its regulatory framework and its attractiveness as a favored destination for foreign direct investment. She said that Kenya has a strong telecommunications infrastructure, a robust financial sector, and extensive aviation connections. In addition, Kenya’s membership in the East African Community (EAC), as well as other regional trade blocs, provides growing access to larger regional markets.
The Acting High Commissioner, therefore, emphasized the huge investment potential that exists in Kenya particularly on the Government’s big four priority areas i.e. manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and food security. She noted that investments in these sectors would be largely achieved through partnership with the private sector and development partners to accelerate economic growth in the country. Regarding the oil and gas sector, Mrs. Cerere noted that investment opportunities existed in exploration, infrastructure development for transportation and storage facilities and distribution of the final products.
The Acting High Commissioner informed participants at the Forum that Kenya will be hosting the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference from 26th – 28th November 2018. The objective of the Conference is to share ideas and experiences on an integrated, participatory, multi-sector and coherent international approach to sustainable utilization and governance of oceanic and maritime resources. She called for participation noting that registration is free.
In his statement, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Hon. Ivan McKee MSP noted that Scotland’s international exports increased by 23.9% between 2010 and 2016, from £24.1 billion to £29.8 billion. He emphasized that Scotland’s interest was that exports continue to increase and therefore the country’s trade and investment Strategy (2016-2021) sets out steps to improve Scotland’s export performance and to attract investment. He added that International trade and investment were vital to improving Scotland’s competitiveness on the international market.
It was noted that Scotland had adopted a ‘One Scotland’ approach to delivery which meant bringing together individuals, businesses and organizations with relevant experience and interests to promote international business and support opportunities. The Government is supporting international trade and investment in Scotland by attracting and supporting investors; assisting Scottish businesses to export; enhancing international engagement and establishing innovation and investments Hubs.