On 9-10 May, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for Trade Ewa Björling, Minister for Finance Anders Borg and Minister for EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson will be taking part in the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF) in Cape Town. On 5-12 May, in connection with the WEF, some of the ministers will also visit Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Zimbabwe.
The WEF will focus on the conditions for sustaining Africas strong growth and development. There will be discussions on how politicians and the business community can help to strengthen the macroeconomic outlook, global trade and regional integration, structural reforms, the impact of development assistance and human rights.
The visits to the other countries will offer opportunities for high-level meetings, promotional events and strengthening the image of Sweden. Bilateral talks will be held with ministers in these countries. Sweden is interested in supporting and seizing on the new, positive outlook for Africas development and highlighting the importance of political reforms towards democracy.
Why were these four African countries chosen in particular?
Ambassador Per Lindgärde at the Africa Department, who is the coordinator of the ministers visits, offers some examples. He explains that Ethiopia is one of the leading countries on the continent, with its strong economic growth and an ambitious development plan.
But it is also important to improve respect for human rights and democracy, not least for the sustainable economic development of the country. We want to continue to expand and deepen relations with Ethiopia, he says.
South Africa, for its part, is the continents economic superpower and most diversified economy:
South Africa has been a driving force behind African integration, Pan-Africanism and the idea of African solutions to African problems. It is also Swedens most important trading partner in Africa. With five ministers now taking part in the WEF in Cape Town, we are sending a clear signal of our interest in the positive developments taking place in Africa and our desire to expand our relations, says Ambassador Lindgärde.
Nigeria is Africas most populous country and a regional superpower with the potential of soon becoming Africas largest economy.
The trip is expected to open up new opportunities for collaboration and expresses Swedens desire for stronger political and economic relations with a changing Africa.
Source: Government of Sweden website – May 6, 2013.