German companies sharpen focus on East Africa at Nairobi Summit
Nairobi today hosted more than 450 delegates for the second German African Business Summit (GABS). Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, was present at the opening ceremony.
More than half of the delegates present were from Germany, underlining the $3.73 trillion dollar economy’s deepening interest in the region.
On her first trip abroad, the new German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Brigitte Zypries, noted during the opening ceremony that “Africa is a major priority for the German Government, also in the context of Germany’s G20 Presidency. This Summit offers a great platform for the opportunities available in sub-Saharan Africa for investing, trading, learning and connecting – both for business and for government.”
Dr. Gerd Müller, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, was likewise present at the opening ceremony and lauded Africa’s potential. He noted that the GABS highlighted Germany’s commitment to shifting its cooperation with Africa from aid to trade.
“Public money has to mobilize private investment, for instance through government guarantees. Private investment has to be increased and protected against risks. We need a paradigm shift, a new dimension of cooperation.” noted Dr. Müller.
The first GABS in 2015 was held in Berlin but this year’s has taken place in Africa for the first time. The choice for Nairobi is indicative of Kenya’s growing profile as the business hub of the region.
The German Business Association Kenya is one of the largest and most influential bilateral business associations in the country. It has more than 150 members. Last year alone, five new major companies came to Kenya, including automaker Volkswagen which reopened its assembly plant in Thika after a four-decade hiatus.
CS Rotich and CS Mohamed met with their respective German counterparts where both governments signed agreements on the project of a joint East African-German University of Applied Sciences. They also agreed on a joint initiative to enhance technical and vocational training in Kenya.
The first day of the Nairobi Summit was marked by dialogue between German and African delegates on issues such as: the economic growth drivers for Africa, regional economic integration and emerging business opportunities in the region and innovation and digitization.
Day two of the Summit will focus on trade finance, economic and political risks in Africa and best practices in German-African Business models.