Irish Minster for Trade, Business and Employment, Pat Breen, hosted a breakfast meeting yesterday at Nairobi’s Intercontinental Hotel with Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) steering committee members, Geoscience Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
The meeting discussed the “huge opportunities” for deepening business and trade between Ireland and Kenya and a Trade Mission in 2019, with Mr Breen stating that he “would like to see Kenya as a priority trade market for Africa”.
Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Director for Sub-Sahara Africa, Fred Klinkenberg explained that Africa’s growth is of interest to Ireland because there are about 400 Enterprise Ireland clients selling 400 million Euros in Africa. He also said he was hoping for a trade mission to Kenya in 2019 to explore more opportunities in the region which could run events in Fintech, Agriculture, Education, Health and Technology.
BIK co-chairman Niall Meany told Minister Breen that the organisation has links with the other Business Ireland chapters in Africa, to ensure that they are in close contact with them in terms of trade and networks.
It is hoped that the BIK Doing Business Guide will help Irish companies to easily know how to do business in Kenya by presenting the key information on the general economic and business context in the country that they will need.
Emphasising the importance of Kenya to Irish government, Ambassador Vincent O’Neill told Minister Breen that the country is “a gateway to the East Africa Region”.
However, Minister Breen heard from Dr O’Neill that some of the frustrations met as a mission are the infrequency of trade missions to Kenya. He said such trade missions can change the perception of Irish companies to forming with Kenyan partnerships and that there was a need to strengthen the push to have Irish companies come to Kenya and look at barriers which have been identified in the Irish system such as visa issues.
Deputy Irish Ambassador Lisa Doherty explained that the Embassy has two pillars it supports in trade. The first is agriculture, in the potato, dairy and fisheries sector which focuses on institutional partnerships due to Ireland’s expertise and experience in agribusiness. This could prove very important to the Irish government whose focus on future jobs in food exports includes agritech.
The second pillar in trade supported by the Irish Embassy are trade promotions which support private sector development, such as the hub at KEPSA to enable investors to get access to information and services easily in Kenya.
In an effort to increase relations between the two countries, the meeting heard it is key to link up the Irish and Kenyan health sectors and export Ireland’s smart technology to the East African country.
Tweeting following the meeting, BIK Secretary Darren Gillen hailed a “very good breakfast meeting with Minister Breen.”
“I think all present were grateful for his attendance and to show Ireland is serious about doing business. Let’s ensure we get a trade mission from Ireland in 2019,” he added.
BIK assistant secretary Kathleen Vaughan was enthused by the meeting and the opportunities for Irish businesses in Kenya, Tweeting that “the future is now”, adding she is “excited about the prospect”.