The First Sri Lanka-Africa Business Forum was held on 3 February 2023 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the patronage of Minister of Foreign Affairs M. U. M. Ali Sabry. The meeting was attended by 17 visiting Heads of Mission from the African region and CEOs and business leaders from Sri Lanka. At the meeting discussions focused on how Sri Lankan businesses could leverage their comparative advantage to enter the African regional markets. The forum was a follow up event to the meeting chaired by President Ranil Wickremesinghe with African Heads of Mission at the Presidential Secretariat in the morning.
Foreign Minister Sabry opened the forum with remarks that emphasized the importance Sri Lanka places in using economic diplomacy as a tool to harness fully Sri Lanka’s economic engagement with Africa. The Minister stated that there is much untapped potential to expand Sri Lanka’s market share in the African region in key value-added exports and new targeted priority sectors in renewable energy, ICT & Digital Technology, pharmaceuticals, the construction industry, and supply of Sri Lankan skilled labour for gainful employment.
Hela Apparel making a presentation showcased their success in making inroads into the African continent where they have a presence in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Egypt. The SPAR Group, a leading South African business spoke of their success in expanding their presence in Sri Lanka through their chain of supermarkets spurred by the ease of doing business in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka-Africa Business Forum brought forth productive talks on moving forward the agenda for a deepened commercial partnership through the engagement of the Sri Lankan and African overseas communities in the respective countries. The representatives of African countries attending the forum strongly welcomed the outreach initiative.
The Sri Lanka-Africa Business Forum is one of the first engagements the Foreign Ministry has undertaken to coincide with the 75th Independence Day celebrations in keeping with the Sri Lankan Government’s Look Africa Policy.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry participated in the discussion. Sri Lanka’s Heads of Mission from South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Seychelles, and Ethiopia connected virtually.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
5 February 2023