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UK to host Africa Investment Conference

Zimbabwean businesses are expected to attend the Africa Investment Conference to be hosted by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Trade next year in January.

The one-day virtual event to be held on January 20, 2021 will bring together British and African businesses to explore opportunities for partnership and investment.

The conference is a business-to-business initiative where Zimbabwean businesses would also be invited to participate, particularly those in the renewable energy sector, as greener and more sustainable investment would be a key focus at the conference.

The conference comes one year after the UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London where 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5billion and commitments worth £8.9 billion were announced.

In a statement from the UK Embassy in Harare, British businesses would be able to discuss emerging and relevant themes around doing business in Africa and connect to investment opportunities across the African continent, in the context of a challenging global economic outlook.

“This will be a platform for attendees to hear directly from UK companies about the opportunities and challenges of investing in and doing business across Africa. Firms will also learn more about the UK’s new trade agreements with Africa and support offered by the UK Government to business and investors,” said the embassy.

“The event will also explore how inclusive, sustainable and resilient investment can serve to help countries across the continent transition to a cleaner, greener economy and support recovery from the impact of coronavirus.”

Driven by the insights of the recently established Africa Investors Group (a grouping of some of the UK’s largest investors in Africa), the conference will focus around four key sectors of activity: sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services including agriculture and agri-technology.

“January will see new trade agreements coming into force for the UK with 14 African partners with the prospect of more countries to follow, while 35 African partners will receive preferential access to the UK thanks to our trade presences scheme. The development of the UK’s new trade arrangements alongside Africa’s own Continental Free Trade Agreement can unleash new opportunities for African and UK businesses,” said the Embassy.

UK Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said despite the current global economic context, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice was stronger.

“Growing investment relationships will be central in helping economies recover and build back better from the disruption caused by Covid-19. Africa’s economic potential and investment opportunities are huge. Our partnership will help make sure UK and African businesses are able to capitalise on trade and investment opportunities, now and in the future,” he said in the statement.

Minister for Africa, MP James Duddridge, added that the UK is working with countries across Africa to build strong partnerships to secure investment, deliver more exports, jobs and economic growth that could benefit both African and British businesses.

“January’s event will once again bring together British and African businesses and entrepreneurs, to support more prosperous African countries,” he said.

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE concurred that connecting British businesses to the wealth of opportunities that exists across African markets and supporting them in the realisation of their commercial projects is at the heart of their work.

“With the global disruption to markets caused by Covid-19, investment will be vital to accelerate the UK and Africa’s economic recovery. I am proud that the investment partnerships that exist between Africa and the UK continue to sustain jobs and improve lives,” she said while Co-Chair of the Africa Investors Group (AIG), Andrew Skipper, said:

“A year on from the UK-Africa Investment Summit, and with the UK set on a new course, it is critical that we continue to demonstrate the UK Government’s commitment to working with the private sector to promote, support and deliver trade in key sectors of British excellence, across the whole of UK and across Africa.”

“I expect the conference will demonstrate what has been achieved, and establish a platform for what can be done working in collaboration in the future.”

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