The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is to open up a new office in Kenya – its first overseas – in a sign of the continent’s growing importance.
IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione said the move was "a sign of how important we believe our work in Africa is and how much more important we believe it can be".
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also spoke today (20 January) of the continent's "huge economic potential" in a speech to the Africa Investment Conference.
The virtual event had a focus on sustainable investment into Africa to support the transition to clean growth.
“This year’s conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots towards a more environmentally friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future,” said Trevelyan.
“The continent has huge economic potential and our continued partnership will help businesses capitalise on investment opportunities, support high-value jobs and boost enterprise in every part of the UK,” she added.
Export finance record
To mark the conference, the government today announced that its export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), provided a record £2.3bn to strengthen UK-Africa business relationships in 2020-21.
UKEF has increased support from approximately £600 million in 2018-19, covering a range of infrastructure projects in countries from Côte d’Ivoire to Uganda.
IOE&IT into Africa
The IOE&IT decision to open an office in Nairobi, Kenya, follows its development of training, education and consultancy offerings across the entire African continent.
Forgione said: “We are delighted to be opening our first office outside the UK in Kenya. It is a sign of how important we believe our work in Africa is and how much more important we believe it can be.”
Forgione also said the IOE&IT hopes to play its role in supporting businesses in Africa to make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – a free trade pact covering 54 of the 55 African Union countries.
“Of course, the Institute has always worked to support our members right around the globe,” he said. “But in opening up this new chapter we are sending a strong signal that we are there for members on the African continent and that we can help traders there to upskill their teams to trade in support of the AfCFTA as well as growing their trade globally.”
“This investment in growing our presence in Africa especially our new base in the Kenya is central to this ambition,” he added.
The opening of the office builds on a successful 2021 in Africa for the IOE&IT in which it delivered qualifications in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.
It has worked with the International Trade Centres, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Nigerian Export Promotion Council in delivering these qualifications, while also developing a Trade and Information Pipeline (TLIP) with TradeMark East Africa.
The UK secured the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement in 2020 to maintain the preferential trading arrangements it previously had with Kenya as a member of the EU.
UK exports to Kenya in 2021 were worth £530 million and imports from Kenya totalled £579 million.
The TLIP project aims to increase trade for both sides and will help create greater visibility within supply chains while simplifying the facilitation of trade.
The overall aim of the TLIP initiative is to reduce logistical time constraints for businesses by around 40%, reduce the cost of compliance by 20% - potentially worth an initial saving of up to £36m to UK exporters.