Trond Giske, Minster of Trade and Industry (photo), and Erik Solheim, Minster of Environment and Development, as well as 100 delegates from Norwegian business and industry are in Africa this week to promote trade.
"This business delegation is of a remarkable size. It shows that the interest for trade and investments in Africa is on the rise, and that many people think this is a promising market," says Giske.
In 2010, Norway exported goods to Africa for a total of NOK 8 billion, and imported goods for the same amount. Overall, the trade with Africa constitutes 1.3 percent of Norway’s total trade with the world, an increase of 0.5 percent since 2010.
While in Africa, the ministers and delegation will visit Ghana, Angola and Mozambique – all of which are large centers for oil production and Norwegian investment. Several of the delegations’ representatives work for central organizations and companies in the oil industry, maritime offshore enterprises and renewable energy, such as Statoil, The Norwegian Veritas, and Subsea 7.
"The African continent is becoming an increasingly important market for Norwegian business, and we would like see our business and trade relationship with Africa grow even stronger," says Giske. The visit will also focus on the combination of business and development assistance. "There is no contradiction between business and aid," Solheim says. "In many cases, aid is needed in order to open for investments and trade."
So far, it looks like it’s moving in the right direction. Between 2009 and 2010, Norway increased its exports to Ghana by 93 percent, while imports increased by 94 percent. Ghana started producing oil in 2010, which increased the number of business opportunities for Norwegian exporters and suppliers.
Angola, on the other hand, is already Norway’s most important business partner in Africa. Statoil has invested NOK 40 billion in Angola, and 37 percent of its oil production is located here. Statoil is also the operator of two exploration blocks in Mozambique, which discovered oil in 2010.
It’s important to note the differences between these countries, Solheim explains. "This continent is incredibly diverse, and full of possibilities."
The delegation and ministers will return to Norway on November 25.