On Monday, March 28, 2022, as part of Poland’s economic program, the Polish-African Economic Forum was held at the World Exhibition in Dubai. The event was attended by representatives of state delegations and entrepreneurs from Poland, Africa and the Middle East. The forum was a unique platform for establishing contacts and business relations as well as presenting the achievements of Polish companies from prospective industries.
The Polish-African Economic Forum was a major business event at the World Expo in Dubai, facilitating contact between representatives of companies operating in innovative and prospective industries, establishing new contacts and exchanging experiences related to running a business.
The Polish-African Economic Forum also contributed to the strengthening of ties between countries in order to build a friendly business environment and expand cooperation opportunities.
“The Polish-African Economic Forum is one of the most important events as part of the Polish presence at the World Exhibition Expo 2020 in Dubai, which has been going on for almost half a year. Over 400 entrepreneurs from around the world took part in it. I am convinced that the contacts and business relations established during the forum will, in the long term, lead to the implementation of specific projects and will further contribute to increasing trade between Poland and African and Arab states. They will also bring tangible benefits to both our entrepreneurs and their partners from Africa and the Persian Gulf region,” said Grzegorz Piechowiak, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Development and Technology.
“The Polish Investment and Trade Agency, through its Foreign Trade Offices, supports Polish companies in many countries around the world and helps them appear also in Africa. The Polish-African Economic Forum brought together the most important themes regarding potential business cooperation between entrepreneurs and confirmed that our economies have a lot to offer. Domestic producers from the food, medical, transport and energy sectors are looking for new markets and by diversifying they reduce the risk of running their business. I am glad that our participation in economic forums during Expo 2020 Dubai is already helping entrepreneurs to mark their presence in Africa and the Middle East even more,” said Grzegorz Słomkowski, Vice President of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency.
Discussion panels at the Polish-African Economic Forum
The Polish-African Economic Forum began by welcoming speeches from representatives of state authorities and institutions: Grzegorz Piechowiak – Secretary of State at the Ministry of Development and Technology; Lech Antoni Kołakowski – Secretary of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Olamilekan Adegbite – Minister of Mining and Steel Development, Nigeria; Abubakar Malami – Honorary Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Nigeria; Krzysztof Drynda – President of the Management Board of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency; Beaty Daszyńska-Muzyczki – President of the Management Board of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego; Jacques Mukwende – Director of Partnership Management and Resource Mobilization in the African Union Commission.
“I would like to thank the Polish government for inviting us to the Polish-African Economic Forum. We see a very large representation of Nigeria, which also reflects our willingness to establish economic relations with Poland. We realized that we no longer wanted to trade unilaterally. We don’t just want to export natural resources. We invite Polish partners to Nigeria and take a closer look at food processing. We have many food actors and products in this industry that can be traded in a mutually beneficial way,” said Olamilekan Adegbite, Nigeria’s Minister of Mining and Steel Development.
“There are around 200 million people in Nigeria, which gives us some idea of the size of its economy. But if we look at the prospect of the ease of doing business, the transparency of the institutional and legal framework, then Nigeria is also the right investment target,” said Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Honorary Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Discussion panels with the participation of invited guests heard experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and representatives of state institutions discuss key themes. The aim of the discussions was to outline the potential fields for cooperation between Poland and African countries. The panelists also spoke about the most important challenges related to individual sectors of the economy.
The first discussion was related to food security. The role of Poland as the main producer and exporter of agri-food products in the European Union was discussed. As part of the discussion panel “Evolution of the food value chain in Africa in the coming decade,” experts pointed to the huge potential for cooperation. The moderator of the conversation was Michael Mazurewicz – Manager of the PAIH Foreign Trade Office in Nairobi. The panel was attended by: prof. Adam Ekielski – Warsaw University of Life Sciences; Wojciech Leończuk – Santini Food Trading, Poland; Anele Mtshemla – CEO of Wild Coast Foods, South Africa; Houssine Belrhiti – Expense Reduction Analysts – EMEA, Morocco; Sumaila Abdul-Rahman – Chief Executive Officer for the Northern Development Authority in Ghana.
The next panel, entitled “Transport and infrastructure,” concerned, inter alia, the progressive urbanization in Africa and the demand for products and services supporting the development of such projects in Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Polish entrepreneurs could learn about the areas of potential business cooperation. The moderator of the discussion with the participation of experts and representatives of LUG, Fiber Team or DCT Gdańsk was Dr. Anna Masłoń-Oracz – the Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Africa from the Warsaw School of Economics. The panel was attended by: Michał Łupkowski – New Business Development Director, LUG Light Factory; Adam Żołnowski – CFO, DCT Gdańsk; dr inż. Konrad Markowski – CEO FiberTeam, Poland; dr Michał Beim – Assistant Professor, Poznań University of Life Sciences; dr Moustafa Moharram – Executive Director, Moharram & Associates, Egypt; dr Hubert Joynt – Center of Excellence Program Manager, Infrastructure South Africa – Industrial Development Corporation, South Africa. The panelists admitted that Polish experience, know-how, technologies and new business models, mainly in the Polish specialties of road, rail, e-bus and urban transport, can be very useful in the further development of these areas in African countries.
As part of the panel “Green Africa: Inclusive and Sustainable Future,” renewable energy sources were discussed. The discussion was moderated by Dr Jacek Guzek, Associate Director at Deloitte Consulting in South Africa. The talks were attended by: Meta Mhlarhi – Co-founder and Director of Mahlako A Phahla Group, South Africa; Thomas Helm Roos – Senior Research Engineer at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), RPA; Sylwia Koch-Kopyszko – President of the Board of the Union of Producers and Employers of the Biogas Industry; Szymon Byliński – Director of the Department of Electromobility and Hydrogen Management at the Ministry of Climate and Environment; Mandy Rambharos – Director of Just Energy Transition, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, South Africa; Dominika Niewierska – New Business Streams Development Manager, PKN ORLEN; Anna Filipowicz – Manager of the Hydrogen Transformation Program, PKN ORLEN.
Another topic on the agenda was new technologies that are revolutionizing and changing the healthcare equipment and care industry. The discussion was moderated by Remon Farouk – Doctor of medical sciences, entrepreneur, trainer from Egypt. The panel was attended by: Ayodele Adeyemo – CEO and co-founder of PneumaCare, Nigeria; Siphokazi Feke – CEO and co-founder of Brainwave Medical Group, South Africa; Jerzy Szewczyk – CEO Pro-PLUS, Poland; prof. Piotr H. Skarżyński – Director of Science and Development at the Institute of Sensory Organs, Poland; Leszek Biały – Director of the Medincus Medical Center in Dakar, Senegal.
An important moment of the Polish-African Economic Forum was also the discussion on financial support instruments for companies that want to export their products and services to African countries. The panel discussion was moderated by Richard Amor from the European Investment Bank. The speakers included: Grzegorz Słomkowski – Member of the Management Board of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency; Janusz Władyczak – President and CEO of KUKE; Paweł Nierada – First Vice President of the Management Board of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego; Witold Wiliński – CEO, GPW Tech S.A .; Magdalena Wymysłowska – Head of International Transactions – Bank Pekao SA; dr Ahmed Tufeiru – CEO of Gateway Holdings Limited, Ghana. The aim of the discussion was to increase knowledge about the possibilities of financial support, which in Africa are a key aspect in developing a business. Representatives of Polish financial institutions acknowledged they are ready to cooperate with African banks and financial institutions to develop further areas of cooperation in order to close the trade financing gap in Africa, which in 2019 was estimated at $81 billion.