Day two of Africa Day focuses on economic cooperation

The second day of the 6th Africa Day international conference took place today at Brdo. Its main focus was economic cooperation between Slovenia and African countries. The keynote speakers were Lucky Mulusa, Minister of National Development Planning of Zambia, and Bamba Kassoum, President of the National Chamber of Crafts of Ivory Coast. The introductory speech was given by Robert Kokalj, Director-General for Economic and Public Diplomacy.

In his opening speech, Director-General Kokalj underlined the importance of rapid changes in the international environment that require closer cooperation in the search for joint technological and industrial solutions. In this context, it is important to address the specific needs of African countries, which arise from their environment.

Minister Mulusa presented Zambia’s development strategy goals, which focus on economic diversity and creating job opportunities, especially for the young. One of the biggest problems at the moment is the lack of competitive solutions, because the economy is based on exports of raw materials, rather than processed materials or finished and intermediate goods. He said that the transfer of technological solutions from Slovenia and also the European Union would have additional advantages for the development of infrastructure, making Zambian products more competitive.

President Kassoum talked about challenges and opportunities in the private sector. He pointed out the potential for cooperation in the wood-processing industry, farming and more specifically fishing, green technology, and renewable energy.

In the second part of the conference, several Slovenian companies and institutions gave presentations of their services which address the needs of African countries. The head of ZAFRIT, Stane Štefančič, introduced 10 ICT companies that are members of the ZAFRIT association. He emphasised the importance of education, the registration of the population, gender equality, waste management and the presence of ICT solutions in all of these areas. Boris Lipovšek introduced the company CETIS and explained that it is a strategic partner of countries, or more specifically their governments, because the company is involved in the creation and protection of official documents. The company has been present in Africa since 2004, and this market accounts for 51% of their exports.

Tamara Zalar introduced the company Tajfun, the largest Slovenian manufacturer of forestry machinery. The company is already present in Southern Africa, but is looking for additional partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa. Iztok Hočevar presented the activity of ITF – Enhancing Human Security in Africa. ITF is already present in the north and west of the continent with programmes for the reconstruction of communities which have been affected by conflicts.

Miloš Bavec, Director of the Geological Survey of Slovenia, explained that the Institute cooperates with Africa through the PanAfGeo project, which will educate more than 1200 trainees from the African continent. The expected results of the project are better databases and consequently better assessments of mineral resources. Boštjan Žirovnik talked about Turboinštitut, which operates within the Kolektor Group. The company produces water pumps, hydroelectric plants and waste-water cleaning systems. Africa is currently the most important market for hydroelectric plants, with large untapped potential.

Primož Banovec introduced the Water Science Institute, which works on forecasting natural disasters and managing the consequences of such events. The Institute’s cooperation with African countries is carried out on multiple levels, such as education and the construction of efficient infrastructure and setting up appropriate ICT models.

In the afternoon, the participants visited the wastewater treatment plant in Domžale, the Slovenian Environment Agency and Turboinštitut.

Photo: Bor Slana/STA/MFA