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Doing Business in Africa – big challenges and big opportunities

UK business leaders last night (Tuesday 6/11) were urged to seize the challenge and the opportunity of doing business in Africa, at an event organised by London First and City University London at the University’s Cass Business School, in the City.

Chairman of Reuters, Niall FitzGerald and Group CEO of Barclays, John Varley, both of whom lead businesses successful in Africa, addressed the questions of why and how to do business on the Continent.

Clive Ansell, President of Strategy, Marketing and Propositions for BT Global Services and Board Member of business organisation London First, said:
“London is a world city, perhaps the world city. We have a history of trading with every part of the world including much of Africa.  Doing business in Africa is quite obviously not the same as in Europe or Asia, neither is the business environment the same in every African country.  Our event helped businesses understand the challenges as well as the huge opportunities. Local presence and knowledge is the key to success in doing business in Africa.”

Niall FitzGerald, Chairman of Reuters, said:
“To be successful in Africa, business leaders must reject the image of a continent in constant crisis. Challenges remain but, in a continent of almost a billion people, so do huge opportunities. The potential dividends for businesses which are bold and forward-thinking are huge.”

John Varley, Group Chief Executive of Barclays, said:
“A century of experience in Africa has taught us that to get a good return on an investment in a developing market requires developing that market itself. Greater access to financial services and the development of thriving local businesses are the foundations of flourishing economies and central to Barclays success.”

Lord (Digby) Jones, Trade and Investment Minister, welcomed the event. He said:
“The business opportunities in Africa cannot be ignored. This is a continent on the rise with opportunities in telecommunications, energy, infrastructure and financial services – all areas in which the UK is strong. I will visit the north of the continent at the beginning of 2008 and south of the continent later in the year, while the Duke of York, the UK’s special representative for Trade and Investment, is currently visiting Morocco, Algeria and Libya to further develop our business ties.”

The “Doing Business in Africa” event, sponsored by City University and London First, was hosted by Richard Gillingwater, Dean of Cass Business School, and was attended by a hundred business leaders.

Notes to Editors

London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure

London First delivers its activities with the support of 300 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent over a quarter of London’s GDP.

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