News & Events

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD leads Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission to South Africa and Kenya

  • 42 Enterprise Ireland supported companies participating on the Ministerial led Trade Mission with major export opportunities highlighted in digital technologies, telecoms, fintech, education, agri and life sciences
  • South Africa and Kenya are strategic hubs for South and East Africa regions - 400 Enterprise Ireland supported companies active in Sub-Saharan Africa, exporting a total value of €400m
  • Enterprise Ireland client exports to South Africa and Kenya increased by 16% in 2018. 18 Irish companies to participate in AfricaCom, the largest telecommunications and technology event in Africa

Monday 11 November: The significance of South Africa and Kenya as strategic hubs for the South and East Africa regions respectively, is being recognised today as the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, leads 42 Enterprise Ireland client companies on 5-day trade mission to the two countries. This is the first time that Enterprise Ireland has undertaken a trade mission to Kenya.

The trade mission will focus on strengthening trade links between Ireland and South Africa and Kenya and raise awareness of Ireland as a source of world class products, services, and technologies.  The programme will also support participating Irish companies as they enhance their relationships with local partners and customers.

South Africa and Kenya are key to the developing and growing Africa Region which in 2018 was the second fastest growing economic region in the world.  South Africa has a population of over 58 million and provides an access route to the Sub Sahara market of 900 million.  Kenya is the fastest growing economy in Africa and the commercial hub of East Africa. This Trade Mission highlights the substantial Irish exporter engagement within the region; over 205 Enterprise Ireland supported companies are active in South Africa and 75 within Kenya, with exports to the two countries growing by 16% in 2018.

Speaking on her arrival in Johannesburg, Minister Humphreys said, “I am delighted to be leading 42 Irish companies on a trade mission to South Africa and Kenya. Africa is transforming into a continent of opportunity, which is why the Government is so determined to increase Ireland’s exports into the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Furthermore, market diversification has never been more important than it is now with Brexit on the horizon.

“Over the coming days, I will be meeting Government representatives and agencies as well as local business groups interested in doing business with Ireland. My primary goal is to promote Irish companies as the best in the world, and support them to build business connections in Johannesburg, Capetown and Nairobi.

The Minister concluded, “The diverse range of companies on this trade mission reflects the strength of our exporters and their ambition to scale their business globally.”

As part of Ireland’s high-tech trade mission to South Africa and Kenya this week, eighteen Irish companies are visiting Africacom, the largest telecommunications and technology event in Africa, covering all aspects of the industry, from connectivity infrastructure and disruptive technologies, to digital services and ICT strategy. This Trade Mission aims to support these Irish companies and to highlight to the African business community Ireland’s success in telecommunication innovation and technology and to showcase Ireland as a source of telecoms products and services.

In 2018, Enterprise Ireland client companies exported over €113m to South Africa, an increase of 12% on 2017.  Exports to Kenya were €29m in 2018, up 4% on the previous year. 

In South Africa, opportunities exist across Life Sciences, Digital Technologies, Fintech and Education.

South Africa imports over 90% of medical devices and is among the largest medical device market in the MEA region.  In line with the need for cutting edge technology, exports from Irish Life Science companies grew from approximately €1.1m in 2017 to €1.4m in 2018. 

Key industries in Kenya for Irish exporters include Agritech and Education. The Kenyan agricultural sector employs 85% of the rural workforce and has continued to grow at almost 5% annually with huge potential for further growth. There exists a need to expand public spending on Kenya’s rural infrastructure, including feeder roads, extension services, and promoting agricultural research, science and technology.

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director for Global Business Development at Enterprise Ireland said “Expanding the Irish export footprint is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland, and we are working closely with Irish companies to realise opportunities to support greater market diversification.  This trade mission to South Africa and Kenya is part of our market diversification strategy which includes the aim of increasing Irish company exports to €26 billion by 2020.   The 42 Enterprise Ireland supported companies taking part in this Trade Mission span a wide range of sectors, including Digital Technologies, Agri, Fintech, Education, Construction, Telecommunications and Life Sciences.  They all have one thing in common – the commitment to provide what are world class solutions to customers and partners in Africa.  These companies see Africa as a key element of their current and future export diversification strategy and recognize the substantial opportunity that Africa represents.”


Media Contacts

Conor O’Donovan, Head of Communications, Enterprise Ireland

Marika MacCarvill, International PR, Enterprise Ireland / 00 353 86 171 2568

About Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish State agency that works with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. Enterprise Ireland partners with entrepreneurs, Irish businesses, and the research and investment communities to develop Ireland’s international trade, innovation, leadership, and competitiveness. In this way, we support sustainable economic growth and regional development and help create and sustain employment in Ireland.