Business interest towards Ghana and Nigeria is definitely growing. Last year's visit from Finland by a Deputy Minister and around a dozen companies was this November followed by a Ministerial level trade mission and 25 companies in total, including two important funding agencies. The visit coincided with the 100th Anniversary year of Finland's independence.
The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland Mr. Kai Mykkänen chose the milestone centenary year of Finland to promote and explore business opportunities in Ghana and Nigeria with an impressive business delegation that included companies from sectors such as power, telecommunications, cleantech, education, and health & wellbeing. The group had a full program of five days in three cities, and came out of it satisfied that the two West African countries offer ample opportunity for cooperation in all sectors.
The delegation held discussions in more than 15 ministries, focusing on concrete actions and opportunities for cooperation. Meetings with Ministers of Trade and Industry, Education, Communication, Water Resources and Sanitation, and Interior, among others in Ghana, were eye opening in highlighting win-win opportunities, as were the meetings in Nigeria with Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Communication, Power, Works and Housing and others. In Accra, Abuja and Lagos, business to business meetings and discussions with international development finance institutions also took place.
In Ghana, Minister Mykkänen, together with the CEO of Finnfund, visited the recently constructed Accra airport cargo terminal which had important funding from Finnfund. In Nigeria, the delegation had a tour of safety critical Finnish technology installed at Abuja airport, and a snapshot into the local start-up scene was offered at the business accelerator Ventures Platform which partnered Finland earlier this year with the CodeBus Africa project. An important renewable energy deal was announced during the visit, and at a lunch in Lagos, with the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and with the International Finance Corporation, Minister Mykkänen highlighted a recent commitment to a Finland-IFC climate fund.
Finnish and Ghanaian education players were brought together in Accra to explore opportunities for collaboration, and in Lagos an event was hosted around the theme of health and wellbeing. In Nigeria, the Minister also had the opportunity to learn about the anti-human trafficking work of NAPTIP, and to visit a UNFPA family planning project at Maitama District Hospital, as well as meeting representatives of the Nigerian-Finnish Association in Lagos.
At a networking reception hosted in Abuja by the Ambassador of Finland, Nigeria's Communication Minister Hon. Barr. Adebayo Shittu stressed the importance of trade relations between Finland and Nigeria, focusing in particular on telecommunications.
In Accra, the Ministers of Trade and Industry and of Education, Hon. Alan John Kyerematen, and Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, used the opportunity at a similar event, to speak enthusiastically about the strong dynamism and momentum in Finland-Ghana trade relations.