1st German-Africa Business Summit concludes in Berlin
The 1st German-Africa Business Summit held from 7–8th September 2015 and attended by the Secretary-General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera concluded in Berlin, Germany.
The Summit brought together over 500 German businesses and Federal Government senior officials that wish to prospect and facilitate acquisition of business opportunities in Africa.
Delivering a keynote address, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasised the need to improve the co-operation with African Governments towards economic co-operation from the traditional development co-operation.
He said economic co-operation will create jobs, reduce illegal migration, poverty levels and increase the market share of German businesses operating in sub-Saharan Africa. The Minister noted and commended the reforms achieved by the EAC within a short period of time that included the Customs Union, Common Market and the path towards the Monetary Union.
Participating at the “Panel of Honour”, the EAC Secretary-General stated that Africa had contributed to European growth through importation of manufactured goods and it was now time for Europe to contribute to Africa’s growth through strong economic partnerships.
While hosting the heads of delegations from the African Regional Economic Communities that included Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary-General, H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of African Union, H.E. Kadre Quedraogo, President of Economic Community of West African States and Dr Mbinkosi Mhlongo, Deputy Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community, Dr Steinmeier highlighted the importance of including Digital Agenda in the current Development co-operation frameworks.
Amb. Sezibera expressed appreciation for the financial and technical assistance accorded to the EAC through the yearly contribution to the Partnership Fund, construction of the EAC headquarters in Arusha and visit by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Joachim Gauck to EAC headquarters earlier this year.
The Africa Regional Economic communities’ heads of delegations discussed how to combat illegal immigration, terrorism and how to improve governance with Dr Steinmeier.
Courtesy call to the former President of German
Speaking with the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Horst Kohler when he paid a courtesy visit, the EAC Secretary-General Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera expressed his appreciation for the extensive work done by the former president to support German businesses to set up operations in the EAC region and also his contribution to development work.
Dr Sezibera extended an invitation to Dr Kohler to deliver a keynote address during the upcoming Academia Public Private Partnership Forum organised by the Inter-University Council for East Africa that will be held from 22nd-23rd October in Kampala, an invitation which the former President accepted.
On his part, the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Kohler hailed the reforms done by EAC to improve the business climate and to make it easier for German business community to enter the market. Dr Kohler noted that EAC region has to improve its vocational training for the young people, as the region gears up to became the manufacturing hub for Africa.
Dr Kohler emphasised that the German-Africa Business Summit was a noble initiative and he is looking forward to the Summit bridging the information gap that exist between German entrepreneurs and potential African business partners.
New Strategic Partnership between EAC-EABC and German Africa Business Association
EAC Secretary-General held a consultative meeting with the Chairman of German Africa Business Association, Dr Stefan Liebing and Manager for Eastern Africa, Asmau Nitardy. During the discussion, Amb. Sezibera noted that EAC region has a positive perception of German made products and the German business community should take advantage and set up operations in the region.
He added that the region offers some of the best incentives through preferential trade agreements for exports to European and US markets.
Dr Liebing expressed an interest in setting up a business information exchange portal between German and East Africa Businesses. The portal will exchange information on tenders available in the region and any new infrastructure projects.
He disclosed that German small and medium enterprises that employ between 1,500–5,000 staff members lacked information about business opportunities available in East Africa.
Dr Liebing also informed the EAC delegation of their strategic plan to start offering bundled solutions to private and public sector organisations in East Africa. This will allow them to compete with their counterparts from Asia.
EAC and the German Africa Business Association delegation agreed to set up a steering team that will conclude on a memorandum of understanding for creating a solid partnership in three core areas i.e. renewable energy, agro-chemicals and fertiliser, and pharmaceuticals.
East African Community investor’s forum
The EAC Secretary-General also attended an exceptional East African Community investor’s forum held at the closing of the Summit attended by 50 high net worth investors, hosted by the Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa for the Federal Republic of German Government, Mr Georg Schmidt.
Mr Schmidt noted that the EAC is a shining example of a successful regional economic community in Africa and his conception of the expanded region would either include Somalia, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan or Madagascar.
Amb. Sezibera highlighted many attractive investment features but emphasised on two key areas which any serious investor would consider when scouting for the most attractive regional economic community. These include: a growing population of about 150 million people and the highest level of economic integration achieved in Africa.
According to the investors, EAC needs to sort out 4 key challenges to become the most attractive regional economic community in Africa among German investors: streamline border operations, regular engagement with German investors, improve ranking on the ease of doing business report and fast-track full implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol.