By Marcus Leach

British businesses discussed opportunities to play a pivotal role in driving forward business development in Africa at a new Sub-Saharan Africa Task Force which met in London on Wednesday.

This business-led initiative will enable high-level discussion on strategic issues relating to British business interests across a number of Sub-Saharan African markets.

Chaired by Lord Green, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, it includes UK companies and partner bodies engaged in the development of the UK’s broad economic relationship with the region, and will meet every six months.

“Today’s inaugural meeting of the Sub-Saharan Africa Task Force represents a major step forward in helping British businesses to seize the growing commercial opportunities in the region. These are diverse and vibrant markets offering openings across almost every sector," Lord Green said.

“The Prime Minister’s successful visit in July, and the UK Government’s commitment to doubling bilateral trade with South Africa and Nigeria, demonstrate the huge potential we see in the UK’s commercial relationship with Africa.”

UK exports to the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa were up by 25% from £3.3 billion to £4.1 billion between January-June 2011, when compared with the same period last year.

With a presence in eight priority markets in Sub-Saharan Africa offering the best and broadest opportunities for British business, UK Trade and Investment is well placed to help UK firms succeed in South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Opportunities exist across every sector, but in particular: energy, infrastructure, financial services, ICT, education & skills and agri-technology. There are also growing High Value Opportunities for UK firms to support Africa’s development.

The UK is committed to building commercial links across Africa; the Lord Mayor of London is currently coming to the close of a successful visit with a business delegation to South Africa, Angola, Kenya and Nigeria. There will be further high level engagement during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth next month.

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