Fast-emerging Africa and its bountiful opportunities

Fast-emerging Africa and its bountiful opportunities

Bolstering Greece’s international presence with more extroverted and growth-oriented diplomacy was among the key elements of the multifaceted policy program presented by Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis in Parliament on Saturday. “We will strive to promote the financial and commercial interests of Greek business abroad at the bilateral and multilateral level as well as the presence of Greek products in international markets,” he said.

Greece appears to have finally understood the need to cast a wider net and develop ties with countries and regions that had gone largely overlooked, with Africa being among them. This interest in the continent became evident by former foreign minister Nikos Dendias’ seven trips to the region in the last three years. It was also confirmed by the participation of the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General for International Economic Affairs Vicky Loizou at a very interesting conference, “Seven Women Talk About Entrepreneurship in Africa,” organized a few days before the June 25 general election by the Hellenic-African Chamber of Commerce and Development.

Sub-Saharan Africa ‘is the second-fastest developing region on the planet after Asia’

Loizou underlined Greece’s interest in the region by noting that of the 779 actions in the ministry’s National Extroversion Plan, 10 concern countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa among them), and stressing that there is a lot of room for closer economic and commercial ties. Indeed, according to the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sofia Kounenaki-Efraimoglou, sub-Saharan Africa “is the second-fastest developing region on the planet after Asia, while current demographic trends point to it hosting 20% of the world’s population in the next few years.” She added that trade between Greece and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa is on an upward trajectory. “In 2022, it came to more than 2 billion euros, showing a rise of 72% compared with 2021,” she said.

The other speakers underscored the opportunities for fruitful partnerships in the region more generally but also with specific countries, while also outlining the problems that need to be addressed (such as visas, air connections, the absence of commercial attaches, double taxation etc).

South African Ambassador to Greece Beryl Sisulu listed the most promising areas of cooperation between the two countries, while noting the strong bonds that tie them together. Her counterpart from Nigeria, Opunimi Akinkugbe, explained her country’s growth potential and how the new government in Lagos is planning measures to boost foreign investments. The very comprehensive presentations by Marianna Gabriel (honorary consul for Greece and Cyprus in Ghana), Vicky Pantazopoulou (honorary consul of Kenya in Greece) and Terina Armenaki (honorary consul of Ethiopia in Greece) also focused on the abundance of opportunities and the wealth of experiences that closer contacts with Africa can bring. 

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