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29 March 2022

The Polish-African Economic Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai

The Polish-African Economic Forum was held on Monday, 28 March 2022, within the framework of Poland’s economic programme prepared at the World Expo in Dubai. The event was attended by representatives of state delegations and entrepreneurs from Poland, Africa and Middle Eastern countries. The Forum was a unique networking platform for establishing business contacts and relationships as well as presenting the achievements of Polish companies from promising industries.

  • The Polish-African Economic Forum brought together over 400 participants (including 100 online) who held a series of business meetings and participated in five panel discussions.

  • The event was attended by entrepreneurs and representatives of public institutions from 40 countries, including 27 African countries, including from Nigeria, Morrocco, Egypt, Ghana, Benin and South Africa.

  • The Polish-African Economic Forum was another international forum organized within the framework of Poland’s economic programme at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Polish-Arab Economic Forum was held on 6 December 2021.

  • Discussion panels at the Polish-African Economic Forum covered the food industry, transport and infrastructure, green technologies, healthcare and new solutions in medicine, and support instruments for entrepreneurs.

  • During the Polish-African Economic Forum, representatives of the PAIH Investment Centre set out to present Poland as a safe destination for business expansion. Participants at the event were provided with information on investment support opportunities.

  • The organiser of the Polish-African Economic Forum was the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (Polska Agencja Inwestycji i Handlu) and the event’s partners were PKN ORLEN and Polish Development Bank BGK.

The Polish-African Economic Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai

The Polish-African Economic Forum was another of the important business events held during the Dubai World Expo. It facilitated establishing new contacts between representatives of companies in innovative and promising industries and the exchange of experiences related to conducting business activities. The Polish-African Economic Forum also contributed to strengthening ties between countries with the aim 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 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 many 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 Arab Gulf region - Grzegorz Piechowiak, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Development and Technology.

Africa is a region with tremendous investment potential that is extremely diverse economically. In the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH), we constantly monitor this market and help Polish entrepreneurs in establishing business contacts with representatives of local companies from, among others, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa. At the Polish-African Economic Forum, which is one of several business initiatives conducted by PAIH at the World Expo in Dubai, we created a favourable environment for the exchange of experience and mutual presentation of export and investment potential. I strongly believe that the Forum has given Polish entrepreneurs a strong push to develop in Africa and countries in the Middle East region. In addition, it allowed the broadening of the knowledge of the business environment and the rules of entering specific markets - Krzysztof Drynda, President of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency.

The Polish Investment and Trade Agency, through its Foreign Trade Offices, continues to support Polish companies in many countries around the world and helps them establish a presence in Africa as well. The Polish-African Economic Forum focused, as if through a lens, on the crucial themes of potential business cooperation between entrepreneurs and confirmed that our economies have a lot to offer each other. Domestic producers in the food, medical, transport and energy sectors are looking for new markets and aim to reduce the risk of their operations through diversification. I am glad that our participation in economic forums during Expo 2020 Dubai already helps entrepreneurs to mark their presence in Africa and the Middle East even more strongly - Grzegorz Słomkowski, Member of the Board, Polish Investment and Trade Agency.

Panel discussions at the Polish-African Economic Forum

The Polish-African Economic Forum began with welcome speeches by representatives of state authorities and institutions: Grzegorz Piechowiak - Secretary of State, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology; Lech Antoni Kołakowski - Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Olamilekan Adegbite - Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Nigeria; Abubakar Malami - Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of Nigeria; Krzysztof Drynda - President of the Board, Polish Investment and Trade Agency; Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka - President of the Management Board of Polish Development Bank BGK; Mr Jacques Mukwende - Acting Director, 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 - Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Nigeria.

About 200 million people live 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 - Abubakar Malami, Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of Nigeria.

Opening debate followed by the discussion panels with invited guests. The panels were attended by experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and representatives of state institutions. The purpose of the discussions was to outline the potential field of cooperation between Poland and African countries. The panellists also discussed key challenges affecting specific sectors of the economy.

The first discussion concerned food security. They considered the role that Poland may play as the main producer and exporter of agricultural and food products in the European Union. In a panel discussion on "The evolution of the food value chain in Africa in the coming decade", experts highlighted the enormous potential for collaboration. The panel was moderated by Michael Mazurewicz - Head of PAIH’s Foreign Trade Office in Nairobi, and attended by prof. Adam Ekielski - Warsaw University of Life Sciences; Wojciech Leończuk - Santini Food Trading, Poland; Anele Mtshemla - CEO Wild Coast Foods, South Africa; Houssine Belrhiti - Expense Reduction Analysts EMEA, Morocco; Sumaila Abdul-Rahman - Chief Executive Officer for the Northern Development Authority, Ghana.

The next panel, entitled "Transport and infrastructure", addressed, among other things, the ongoing increase in levels of urbanisation in Africa and the need for products and services to support the development of such projects in Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa. Polish entrepreneurs could learn about the areas of potential business cooperation. The panel was moderated by dr Anna Masłoń-Oracz - Rector's Plenipotentiary for Africa, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Poland and attended by Michał Łupkowski - New Business Development Director, LUG Light Factory, Poland; Adam Żołnowski - CFO, DCT Gdańsk, Poland; dr eng. Konrad Markowski - CEO FiberTeam, Poland; dr Michał Beim - Assistant Professor, University of Life Sciences in Poznań, Poland; dr Moustafa Moharram, Executive Director, Moharram & Associates, Egypt; dr Hubert Joynt - Centre of Excellence Programme Manager, Infrastructure South Africa - Industrial Development Corporation, South Africa. The panellists admitted that Polish experiences, 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 progress of African countries in this area.

The thematic panel "Green Africa: an inclusive and sustainable future" in turn discussed renewable energy sources. The panel 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), South Africa; Sylwia Koch-Kopyszko - Board Member of the European Biogas Association; Szymon Byliński - Director of the Department of Electromobility and Hydrogen Economy at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Poland; Mandy Rambharos - General Manager: Just Energy Transition at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, South Africa; Dominika Niewierska - New Business Streams Development Manager PKN ORLEN, Poland; Anna Filipowicz - Program Manager for Hydrogen Transition PKN ORLEN, Poland.

Another issue tackled during the panel were topics related to new technologies revolutionizing the medical equipment and care industry ("The Future of Health"). The panel was moderated by dr Remon Farouk - medical doctor, businessman, trainer, Egypt. Among the speakers were Ayodele Adeyemo - CEO and co-founder of PneumaCare, Nigeria; Siphokazi Feke - Founder and CEO of Brainwave Medical Group, South Africa; Jerzy Szewczyk - CEO of Pro-PLUS, Poland; prof. Piotr H. Skarżyński - Director of the Science and Development, Institute of Sensory Organs, Poland; Leszek Biały - Head of Medincus Medical Centre in Dakar, Senegal.

The discussion on financial support instruments for companies wishing to export their products and services to African countries also constituted an important moment of the Polish-African Economic Forum. The panel was moderated by Richard Amor of the European Investment Bank. Among the speakers were: Grzegorz Słomkowski - Member of the Board, Polish Investment and Trade Agency, Poland; Janusz Władyczak - President and CEO of KUKE, Poland; Paweł Nierada - First Vice President of the Management Board of Polish Development Bank (BGK), Poland; Witold Wiliński - CEO, GPW Tech S.A., Poland; Magdalena Wymysłowska - Head of International Transactions - Bank Pekao SA, International Banking & Trade Finance, Poland; Dr. Ahmed Tufeiru, PhD. - CEO of Gateway Holdings Limited, Ghana. The purpose of the discussion was to raise awareness of financial support opportunities, a key aspect of business development in Africa. Representatives of Polish financial institutions admitted that they are ready to cooperate with African banks and financial institutions in order to develop further areas of cooperation in order to close the trade financing gap in Africa, which in 2019 was estimated at USD 81 billion.

The Polish-African Economic Forum was also broadcast on social media. A record of the Forum is available on Poland at Expo YouTube channel.

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