TRADE between Africa and Ireland is expected to reach €24bn by the end of the decade, Trade and Development Minister Sean Sherlock has said.
The minister said the Government wants to complement Ireland's traditional commitment in Africa, which has been focused largely on aid and development, with an economic commitment.
More than 300 business people, along with diplomats and members of the African community came together yesterday for the Africa-Ireland Economic Forum.
Several Irish companies are already operating on the continent, including Kerry Group, Guinness, ESB International and Glanbia Nutritionals. There are an increasing number of Irish chief executives targeting Africa as a potential export market, experts have said. Enterprise Ireland's Kevin Sherry told the forum that Africa has been home to eight of the world's 15 fastest-growing economies since 2000, with GDP on the continent hitting $2 trillion (€1.6 trillion) last year - more than India's.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast Africa will repeat 2013's growth rate of 5.1pc this year and then accelerate next year as infrastructure investments boost efficiency, and the service sectors and agriculture flourish.
The 2015 forecast was an improvement on the 5.5pc growth for the overall region projected by the IMF in April. But the outlook is overshadowed by the dire situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola outbreak is "exacting a heavy human and economic toll".