Ireland’s positive relationship with countries in Africa goes back a long way. Our Africa Strategy takes account of the significant changes taking place on the African continent today. It outlines how we are building on existing links to deepen our political and economic relationship with countries in Africa.
Strong historic links
Ireland’s relationship with Africa is an important priority in Irish foreign policy. Our engagement with Africa goes back a long way and has been very positive, from the work of missionaries and aid workers to the strong government-to-government links that have been established through cutting edge development co-operation partnerships. The relationship has been enhanced by the reputations of our peacekeepers and diplomats and today it is being further expanded as new links develop between Irish and African businesspeople.
A changing context
Africa is a complex and diverse continent that is undergoing radical change, and is playing an ever more important role on the world stage. We want to deepen our foreign policy dialogue with African countries on global challenges and on issues such as governance, peace and security and human rights.
While our engagement with Africa has historically been focused on humanitarian and development assistance and peacekeeping, the relationship is increasingly expanding into other areas. Irish business investments in Africa are growing significantly. Two-way trade and tourism is also increasing. We are also seeing new developments in the sport and culture arenas.
A new approach
Responding to these new realities, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched its Africa Strategy (PDF) in September 2011.
The new strategy brings together in a coherent way the different elements of our engagement with Africa, including:
- building on our development partnerships
- advancing our political objectives
- strengthening trade and investment.
It provides a framework for engagement with Africa bilaterally and in our work as part of the United Nations, the European Union in Africa and within other international bodies.
And it recognises that Africa is a diverse continent and that the pace and extent of progress is not uniform. Therefore, our approach will differ in each country.
The Africa Strategy is, above all else, about ensuring coherence between the different strands of our relations with Africa. Through stepping up our political engagement, we are not only contributing more effectively to peace, security, democracy and human rights in Africa, but we are also strengthening our economic relations and driving better development outcomes.
Similarly, our enhanced focus on two-way investment and trade is complementing our development programmes and our political engagement. The reality is that the outcomes of our partnership with Africa are leading, over time, to a more advanced relationship, where mutual political, economic and development interests carry a more equal weight.
Implementing the strategy
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, together with the African Ambassadors to Ireland and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, hosts an annual Africa Ireland Economic Forum. The Forum provides a key networking opportunity for Irish business and African delegates to identify areas for mutually beneficial trade and investment.
Read the full Africa Strategy (PDF, 3.4mb) for more information.
Each Irish Embassy in Africa has a dedicated Economic/Trade Focal Person. Contact details are available on individual Embassy websites.
Africa and Ireland: Our Partnership with a Changing Continent – Progress Report to the Africa Ireland Economic Forum (PDF, 899kb)