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Irish firms win new African export deals

Combilift and Pip IT just two of the firms to announce deals on trade mission, writes Fearghal O'Connor


Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Irish companies Pip IT and Combilift will announce new African business deals as part of a five-day trade mission to South Africa and Kenya.

Enterprise Ireland expects a range of further deals and announcements as part of a trip which will see Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys become the first government minister to lead an official trade mission to Kenya.

Combilift, which manufactures fork lift vehicles in Co Monaghan for export to global markets, is to announce a new deal with Nando's in South Africa as part of the Irish company's push into that country's food production sector.

Combilift already exports more than €3m a year to South Africa and CEO Martin McVicar said it had identified the expanding chicken processing sector in South Africa as a key market.

"We take a targeted approach. Every warehouse needs a forklift truck but we don't try to target everywhere. Instead we try to pick verticals into which we can bring something unique and chicken processing in South Africa is one such vertical. The South African economy isn't necessarily booming but there are sectors that are doing tremendously well."

Galway-based fintech Pip IT, which provides technology which allows vendors to accept international payments, has confirmed it will announce new deals worth €2m with Tawakal Bank in Kenya and with the Cellulant payment platform, which provides payment services for a large range of utility, commercial and government organisations right across east Africa.

"The platform we have created is to help migrant workers to support their families by sending home cash in a manner that is both cheaper and safer," the firm said.

"Cellulant are the technology behind payments in a lot of east Africa, covering about 6,000 merchants across Kenya, Nigeria and Somalia. We're integrating our technology with them to give east African people who are working in Europe, for example, new options for making these kinds of payments."

Enterprise Ireland executive director of global business development Kevin Sherry, who will accompany Humphreys on the trip, said he expected a number of new commercial arrangements and partnerships will be confirmed.

"At this stage it is hard to put a final figure on what that would be worth but we have a very busy schedule of 40 different events in five days for the minister. The trip has been timed to coincide with a major telecoms event in Cape Town, AfricaCom, at which 16 Irish companies will take part," he said.

Sectors represented on the trade mission will include digital technology, fintech, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, agritech, telecommunication and education.

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

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