EAA Events


The Association Regional Representative visited Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in September, where he met various representatives from the diplomatic/donor community as well as EAA members with business interests in the country. Based on the discussions held, there are widespread concerns that the country is facing political, economic and social disorder under the current government and the business community is unhappy and rather despondent about its future prospects.

The UK Chief Executive recently returned from a visit to the region in October which included Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.  Whilst there he held a number of meetings, as follows:


He met the British Ambassador and embassy staff with the Dept. for International Trade (DIT), German Ambassador, EU Head of Delegation and staff – during which he discussed both an EU-Ethiopia Business Forum in Brussels and an EAA joint EU investment mission in October next year (see MISSIONS), as well as the US Head of Political and Economic Affairs and a World Bank/IFC senior official. An appointment with the DG in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for Business Diplomacy was unfortunately cancelled at short notice as she was called away to attend an urgent AU meeting.

An informal meeting was also held with a number of business people with interests in the country.

As a result of these various meetings, at which the political and economic situation in the country was discussed at some length, together with the general business environment, it became clear that Ethiopia has reached something of a crossroads and much depends on the direction of travel the government chooses to pursue in the future. This is elaborated on in more detail in the Association’s newsletter for November, issue number seven.


Meetings were held with the deputy British High Commissioner and a DIT representative, the German Ambassador, the EU Head of Delegation, the IMF Country Manager and the World Bank senior economist. An appointment with the Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority was cancelled at short notice.

There was also a well-attended meeting of EAA members operating in the country and the discussions round the table at this confirmed the concerns the diplomatic community had previously raised about the current political situation in Uganda, especially relating to the proposed extension of presidential age limits. The impact the uncertainty surrounding the elections in Kenya was having on the country’s economy was also an issue for businesses there, as well as the continuing civil war in South Sudan, as this was Uganda’s top export market just three years ago.

From a foreign investor perspective, it is difficult to see many positives in the short to medium term.


Meetings were held with almost 20 representatives from the donor/diplomatic community at the annual Diplomats’ lunch the Association has hosted for a number of years. However, on this particular occasion several Heads of Mission had to cry off at the last minute to attend a joint press conference to convey concerns they had over the forthcoming presidential election in a few days’ time which had been marred by acrimonious disagreements between the two candidates and the threat of serious civil unrest erupting in the country.

In some instances they were represented by their deputies for a gathering that featured presentations by certain EAA members on the sectors their companies were actively involved in.  These included tourism, financial services, the property market and Kenya’s tax environment, which all prompted a number of interesting questions from the assembled distinguished guests.

The government surprisingly declared a public holiday the day before the EAA members’ breakfast meeting (which was scheduled the day before the re-run presidential election) so the attendance was reduced from over 120 who had confirmed to just around 80.  The High Court was due to pass judgement on some ten cases relating to the election and its legitimacy in view of the opposition candidate’s boycott but because of security concerns and a major police presence only two judges were able to attend, so no decisions were possible.

In addition to the usual political and economic overview of Kenya by the Association’s Resident Representative and a briefing on Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania by the UK CEO, the guest speaker gave a very insightful summary of the current political situation in the country and its “emerging democracy”, expressing concerns about the deteriorating relationship between the government and the Supreme Court.


The trade and investment mission to Rwanda was adversely affected by the re-run presidential election in Kenya, with no less than 21 confirmed delegates pulling out either because they wished to vote or over security concerns for their families/businesses – see later report on the mission itself.

The country remains a haven of stability in a very troubled and unstable region.  Following Mr Kagame’s election for a third seven-year presidential term, the debate about succession has largely died down and most of the business community are now able to continue much as before as the country follows a well-determined economic development path.  Future prospects depend to a large extent on establishing stability in the region, especially the DRC, so that Rwanda can fulfil its aim of becoming a “regional hub”.


EBCAM is an organisation which comprises ten European Africa Business Associations and was established to liaise with the EU Commission on behalf of European companies with business interests on the continent.

It operates on an annual rotating presidency basis and at a meeting held at the end of June the UK assumed this role, taking over from Norway.  At the same meeting, as the longest-standing, most experienced member of the Council, the UK EAA CEO was appointed as the “Special Advisor to the Secretary General” to assist him with his administrative work. 

At the meeting held in Brussels on 23rd/24th November, arrangements for the forthcoming EU-Africa Business Summit in Abidjan at the end of the month were discussed, together with the proposed “Joint Business Declaration” to form part of the concluding remarks.

The Secretary General received a note of thanks from the Commissioner “acknowledging EBCAM’s proactive participation and contribution” to preparations for the Summit – expressing “appreciation for EBCAM’s mobilisation efforts”.

There were also presentations on “EU Instruments engaging the private sector in Africa – sustainable global value chains” by the European Centre for Development Policy Management, on the EU “External Investment Plan” by the Team Leader from the European Commission Private Sector, DEVCO and on the “European Investment Bank’s activities in Africa” by the Head of Mandate Management.

There was also the usual “Tour de Table” when respective members briefed the others on the countries of particular interest to them, during which the Association CEO provided a presentation on Eastern Africa following his recent visit to the region.


The two main speakers for this annual event were Lord Popat and Hon. Jeremy Lefroy MP – see bios below


Lord Popat was born in Uganda but came to the UK at the age of 17, a year before the expulsion of many Asians from the country.  After a successful business career, he became a member of the House of Lords in 2010 as a Conservative peer and has served as a Minister of the Crown with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport.  He was subsequently appointed in January 2016 as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda, bringing to the new role a great deal of dynamism promoting British business.


Eastern Africa Association Annual Christmas Reception

Tuesday 5th December 2017


  • Thank you for that kind introduction. Ladies and Gentlemen…it is an honour and a privilege to be here this evening to address the Eastern Africa Association.
  • The EAA has a sterling reputation across Africa and I am delighted that I have the opportunity to speak about my two favourite subjects – Africa and Trade!
  • I want to use my time to speak about:
    • Trade with Africa in a post-Brexit world
    • Opportunities available in Africa
    • Touch on Uganda and Rwanda where I am the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy.

Current Position

  • I want to start by briefly outlining where we are in terms of our global trading status.
  • Britain has run a balance of payments deficit for decades. Quite simply, we do not export enough to pay for our imports. This is neither desirable nor sustainable.
  • Last year Britain voted to leave the European Union. Whilst I supported remaining at the time, I have come to see that decision as an invaluable moment for our country; it has, I hope, allowed us to wake up and reassess many aspects of our economic setup, including how pitiful we have become at exporting, especially at exporting outside of the European Union.
  • Our E.U. membership has resulted in a form of paralysis; far from making us free trading global entrepreneurs, it has – with a few exceptions – made our businesses insular, complacent and risk-averse.
  • Possibly the greatest victim of our insular approach has been the great continent of Africa.
  • Only a few decades ago, Britain could boast of having 25% of total trade with Africa, now it is barely 4%. It continues even now, as our leading brands like British Airways and Barclays Bank depart Africa to focus elsewhere.


  • But it is not all doom and gloom. I have always believed that Africa is the emerging continent. I appreciate that many may think I am biased because I was born in Uganda – I really believe it to be the case.
  • Democracy is becoming more firmly established across the continent, six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are there, it has some of the most innovative and largest growing cities, 52 of which now have populations over a million, and Africa is home to a third of the world’s natural resources. It is a continent with a wonderfully bright future.
  • Yet we hear so little of this in Britain. Perhaps we have some form of post-colonial guilt that prevents us seeing the rising success in Africa. Or perhaps the images of Band Aid are still too prevalent in our minds.
  • Whatever the reason, we are failing to recognise not only the amazing improvements that have helped Africa develop, we are also failing to wake up to the commercial opportunities that are there for British firms.

Uganda and Rwanda

  • I am pleased to say that we have the same amazing economic potential in East Africa. 
  • As the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda, I want to briefly outline some of our key achievements in the region over the last two years.
  • Just two weeks ago I led a delegation of 16 British businesses in the oil and gas sector to Uganda.
  • Two of these British companies – Fluor and CB&I have been shortlisted to build a major oil pipeline to the value of just over $2 billion.
  • Last week, the Ugandan Parliament approved a loan of £315 million to a British company Colas Ltd, to build an international airport in Uganda. This is the largest UK Export Finance loan to Africa.
  • The increase of UKEF coverage in Uganda from £50 million to £600 million has been a real game changer for all these deals.
  • Similarly, a report from Harvard University forecasts that Uganda will become the fastest economy in the world by 2025. I want to see that become a reality and I want Britain to play a leading role in Uganda’s success.
  • This Government has made a big difference in making it easier to export to Uganda. A number of other projects include:
    • Jinja Express Way.
    • Uganda Airlines.
    • Mabey Bridge Flyover Project.


  • In Rwanda we launched Rwanda Air earlier this year.
  • Two airbuses.
  • De Le Rue.
  • Horticultural and Fruit Market.
  • Tourism is Rwanda’s largest export. President Kagame was recently here for the World Tourism Fair in the Excel.
  • It only shows that if we spread our wings, there is tremendous potential in Africa.


  • Whilst talking about Africa, I always want to briefly talk about the Commonwealth. Next year will be a particularly important year for us, with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting here in London.
  • It is clear to me in hindsight that our membership of the European Union was detrimental to the Commonwealth; this amazing group of nations that has been so brilliantly led and held together by Her Majesty the Queen has not been a central part of our foreign policy for decades, and similarly the Commonwealth itself has lacked a real purpose.
  • Perhaps it is difficult for those born in this country to understand quite how powerful the Commonwealth is. We are bound together by the common language, democracy, rule of law and even constitutionally through our Civil Service.
  • The sense of identity it gives to those of us born in other member nations, the strength of the ties that bind us together, is something perhaps only others can appreciate. The Commonwealth is our Family.
  • But the Commonwealth remains a vital part of Britain’s soft power. But what is the point of this soft power…if we don’t have hard cash?
  • In addition to the Royal Wedding, I believe next year will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the British brand across the globe.


  • I will come in a moment to a few suggestions on what we need to be doing to increase our exports to Africa, but I want to make one additional Brexit-related comment.
  • As I intimated earlier, I believe Brexit is an opportunity to remould our economic makeup into something more global, export-orientated and – ultimately – more prosperous.
  • Making a success of Brexit is as much about realising where we have been going wrong for the past thirty years and acting on those realisations as it is about maintaining the bits of EU membership that we liked.
  • For the first time in many years, I feel there is political will to do more trade with Africa. We now need to put more energy behind this relationship.
  • Previous Governments have been happy to let our global ties slip in favour of a more European and domestic focused economy. Yet this current Government seems to grasp the argument I – and many others – have been making, that the real economic prosperity is elsewhere.
  • The creation of the Department for International Trade is perhaps the best political decision taken in this country in decades. It’s a clarion call that demands action; an acknowledgement that we need to be better at creating the right conditions and relationships to foster trade.
  • Similarly the appointment of Trade Envoys to a diverse range of markets is very welcome, and the huge increase in support that the Chancellor set out last year for UK Export Finance, all point towards a Government that realises we need to get back in the game.

Next steps

  • To get back into the game, there are a number of things we can do.

1)         We need a national mission to encourage more businesses, particularly our SMEs, to export more. We cannot rely on those companies that already export to send more abroad, we need new exporters and lots of them.

2)         We need to build the infrastructure so that we can actually deliver our goods to foreign markets. Our aviation policy is the first place we start; it should be a national embarrassment that we still have no additional runways at Heathrow or Gatwick. How can we build links with emerging markets in Africa if we can’t even arrange direct flights from our capital city?

3)         Thirdly, we need a commitment from all of the main political parties to make exporting a central part of their time in Government. At the moment we are lucky to have an outstanding Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox in post; who has an evangelical belief in the power and importance of trade.

Brexit therefore gives us an opportunity to make further progress. And my role as a Trade Envoy is to find those companies who would be a good fit, to persuade them that Uganda, Rwanda or anywhere else in Africa, is a fantastic market, and to help them to put together the best possible proposals to win contracts and establish trading arms in the region.

4)         And finally, we need to change the mindset of British businesses and showcase the potential of trade and investment Africa has to offer. Our presence in Africa is essential.


  • I would like to finish by saying that, we have reached an important crossroads. Choices – and improvements - have to be made on both sides. But what I hope everyone in this room can agree on, is that we should be partners on the road ahead.
  • We share a tremendous history, and a lot of affection for each other’s countries; we are good for one another. But we cannot simply rely on good will; we have to also take the necessary steps to help each other in the months and years ahead.
  • I hope my speech today has helped to outline what I think needs doing to make that a reality. Thank you for listening.



Jeremy Lefroy was elected as the MP for Stafford at the 2010 general election, having previously worked in the coffee industry in Tanzania for 11 years, where he still retains business interests through a company he founded and still runs, Equity for Africa.

He has served on the Select Committee for International Development and was recently elected as the Chairman for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kenya and Tanzania.  Additionally, he is now the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ethiopia, so he brings a great deal of experience of doing business in East Africa to both roles.

Mr Lefroy outlined how he thought he would be able to enhance relations between the UK and the three countries he was now covering, particularly from a business perspective.


Following the conclusion of the re-run presidential election and the success of the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, the Resident Representative’s review of the current situation in the country was more focused on politics than usual and the still uncertain future the divided country faces.  Describing this as a “bumpy ride to a new era”, the increasingly acrimonious relations between President Kenyatta – sworn in on November 28th – and his main opponent, Raila Odinga, mean the next 5 years “are inevitably going to be blighted by the acid controversy over the past six months” leading up to the elections.

The President and his government face a critical number of challenges, not least as to how to unite the country and to revive an economy which has been seriously affected by the ongoing political uncertainty.  There were other interesting speakers at the well-attended meeting, notably by the Principal of the Aga Khan University, one on the controversial Lamu coal plant and its potential impact on the local environment, and plans for the Central Business District in Nairobi under a new Governor.  These are certainly interesting times in Kenya but history suggests that the strong, broadly-based and resilient private sector there will see past the political uncertainties to get the ailing economy back on track next year.


The Association’s UK Chairman and CEO met the new, very enthusiastic British Minister of State at the Department for International Development and Minister for Africa at the Foreign Office for a short introductory briefing before proceeding to attend the 54th Kenya Jamhuri Day celebrations. The principal speaker at this function was the same Minister for Africa met earlier in the day and after congratulating President Kenyatta on his recent re-election, having attended the inauguration ceremony in Nairobi on behalf of the UK government, he gave an eloquent address, emphasising the strong historical, cultural and economic ties between the UK and Kenya, which he was determined to maintain and strengthen. The Kenya High Commissioner and the Chairman of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Kenya, Hon. Jeremy Lefroy, had earlier voiced similar sentiments to the Minister in their respective addresses to the large audience that had gathered for the joyous occasion.



Wednesday (Breakfast) 31st January
Wednesday (Breakfast) 7th March
Wednesday (Breakfast) 25th April
Wednesday (Breakfast) 6th June
Wednesday (Breakfast) 25th July
Wednesday (Breakfast) 5th September
Wednesday (Breakfast) 24th October (Regional Meeting)
Wednesday (Breakfast) 5th December

Thursday (Breakfast) 5th April
Wednesday (Breakfast) 17th October

Tuesday (Coctails) 27th February
Thursday (Coctails) 20th September

Friday (Lunch) 6th April
Friday (Lunch) 19th October

Thursday - Sunday (Investment Mission) 25th - 28th October

Tuesday (Lunch) 12th June