Nordics- East Africa Seek Better Business Ties

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The
Nordic and East African countries have held the first ever business expo and
conference aimed at opening up investment opportunities in the two world
economic regions.

Organized
by Ferrum Capital, Debridge, Uganda Embassy to the Nordic Countries and Uganda
Urban Expo, the three day event was held at Marina Congress Center in Helsinki,
Finland under the theme: “Unveiling the potential of Africa’s fastest-growing
region: East Africa – the Nordic New Frontier”.

Present
were business executives and high-level representatives from the East African
countries who discussed concrete business opportunities with Finnish and Nordic
business executives.

Main
East African Keynote speakers at the event, among others were, Her Excellency
Nimisha Madhvani, Uganda’s Ambassador to the Nordics, who is also a board
member of the Uganda National Oil Company and Mr. Patrick Mweheire, the Chief Executive
Officer of Stanbic Bank Uganda.

Other
main keynote speakers included Professor Charles Kwesiga, the Director Uganda
Industrial Research Institute and Joash Maangi, the Deputy Governor of Kisii
County in Kenya.

Madhvani
underscored the need to invest in areas that would boost the Uganda’s export
sector.

She
cited areas in agriculture, ICT and health sectors that could have high returns
on investment while contributing to the economic development of Uganda.

Markku
Olli, the Regional manager for Finnvera, a Finnish state-owned financing
company, revealed that they were running the African project through which export
guarantees can be secured for East African products.

Jari
Kaitera, Chairman of Ferrum Capital and an organizer for the event, said the
East African region has developed into one of the world’s most exciting zones
of economic growth given the approximately 140 million consumers and the growing
middle class.

“The
annual growth rate for Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda is at least around
5%. This is a good pace.” Kaitera said.

The
World Bank report for the year 2018 lists, agriculture, health and
pharmaceuticals, and construction and energy as growth industries in East
Africa.

Kaitera
noted that in addition to those areas, they were looking at attracting Nordic
players from several sectors, including education, ICT, and packaging.

“Naturally,
there are a lot of questions in the Nordics on operating in East Africa. What
the opportunities are, where’s the largest growth potential, what risks are
there, and many others. The mission of this event is to clarify and provide
answers to these questions and showcase the success stories of Finnish
companies and how they’ve found success in Africa.” Kaitera added.

First Lady of the Central African Republic, Brigitte Touad (C) and Uganda’s  Ambassador to Nordic countries, Nimisha Madhvani (4R) with other delegates at the conference.

He
revealed that in order to get the Nordic businesses quickly established and going,
they will be arranging East Africa trips and meetings for those interested in
starting off fast.

“With
its economic growth, East Africa right now has vast amounts of untapped
business potential. In a lot of countries, the opportunities for co-operation
and market development have gone unnoticed or have not manifested as concrete
business activities.” Paul Jaaza, from Debridge, a partner organizing firm,
noted.

He
noted for example that the Nordic companies could invest in the Ugandan
agricultural sector and help improve the quality of produce to be able to
access more American and European Union markets.

“The
companies in the region are looking for partners to raise the production
quality to meet export standards. We hope and believe that the Nordics have the
business acumen to rise to the challenge”, Jaaza said.

Also
present was Ms. Elly Kamahungye, Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to the Nordics, Mr.
Robert Wasike Deputy head of mission and Ritva Reinikka, former World Bank’s
director of the African business and human development in the Africa Region.



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