One Planet. One Health – Danone and GreenPlus

“The health of people and the planet are intertwined.  You can’t have one without the other”, states Mark Stafford, Nature and Sustainability Manager at Danone, Wexford.

Danone’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible with high quality products contributing to all life stages. This is where sustainability and the environment comes in and it is one of the four key pillars at the company – they have now adopted ‘nature’ as a business fundamental for all supply points and sustainability roadmaps for their brands.

The company used Enterprise Ireland’s GreenPlus scheme to empower line management and teams to manage and improve energy performance at basic unit level and they have now achieved certification to the prestigious ISO 50001 International Energy Management Standard.  This standard aims to help organisations to continually reduce their energy use and therefore their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.

Through their work with GreenPlus, the Energy Management System (EnMS) at Danone has now been implemented successfully across the site, system accreditation has taken place and a number of energy saving opportunities have been identified. This has enabled the company to implement solutions and their annual energy savings are now measured and verified.

So how was their journey with Enterprise Ireland’s GreenPlus and what were their main challenges? Peter Pearson, Nature Co-ordinator explains: “We started looking at the gaps and found the biggest gap was metering.  Data monitoring and reporting systems presented a challenge as the metering available on-site did not satisfy our requirements with regard to reporting detail and frequency”.

“Going down the ISO 50001 route focused our minds on the areas we needed to tackle. It raised awareness within the company.  It identified savings and improved our knowledge on the use of energy onsite.  We found the process easy to navigate and it was fairly straightforward. It was great to have the support of Enterprise Ireland and it was very helpful.”

Danone aims to become carbon zero across their value chain by 2050 and to do that all elements of the business need to become carbon neutral. “Our plant in Co. Wexford has become the first infant formula production site in the world to be certified as carbon neutral.”

“Our net zero carbon rating has been certified by the Carbon Trust, an independent global climate change and sustainability consultancy,”  said Stafford

Explaining the benefits across Danone of engaging with GreenPlus, he pointed out that “We needed buy in from management which we quickly achieved and it was also important to make all employees aware of where we needed to get to and our ambitions. We weren’t surprised that through the GreenPlus process we identified many opportunities – we knew they were there but just didn’t have visibility of them.  The process helped us to pinpoint exactly where we needed to make improvements”.

“As part of our roadmap for the project there was also a huge focus on energy reduction and efficiencies and implementation of the ISO 50001 was crucial to that journey”.

From a business perspective, Mark Stafford and Peter Pearson point out that consumers and customers are looking for sustainability more and more and all the research backs this up.  The expectation is there and that goes for all activities within a company.

“The feedback is that people want more sustainably produced products and environmentally friendly products.” 

“All employees are now aware of where we need to get to.  We have nature champions across our business units and they are now bringing in their own ideas in relation to sustainability and the environment for our brands.  There are a lot of projects now going on in the company. This includes our intention for all of our supply points and business units to be BCorp certified. We know where we are and where we need to get to and what we want to achieve.  We are very focused.”

 To get your business ready for a green future visit Climate Enterprise Action Fund or contact the Climate Action Team

Evolve UK Webinar – Pricing

This webinar,  in  conjunction with Simon-Kucher & Partners, examines the most important profit driver; Pricing. It will also discuss how professionally managing pricing can add millions to your bottom line.

Chaired by Deirdre McPartlin, Manager of Enterprise Ireland UK, with expert insights from Simon-Kucher & Partners, a leading global consultancy specialising in top-line growth strategies with 35 years of experience with monetization topics of all kinds – from pricing strategies, customer segmentation, user experience, offer design, and packaging, to negotiation techniques, and sales excellence.

    • Mark Billige – CEO

    • Peter Colman – Partner

    • Phil Derby – Business Partner, Ireland

     

    Changing Construction – How GreenStart has Powered Passive Sills

    Cork-based company Passive Sills was created with a vision of making changes in the construction industry

    The company could not be more timely in their mission as together building and construction are said to be responsible for a massive 39% of all carbon emissions in the world right now.  Passive Sills produces thermally efficient building products and offers environmentally friendly building materials and product options to the construction industry.

    Globally, leading cities and companies are committing to a highly efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050 but put simply – the Paris Agreement is demanding an even more ambitious built environment strategy than is currently there and for this to happen strong implementation is required.

    The European Commission has recognised the vital role that the built environment sector can play in delivering the requirements of the EU2050 long-term strategy to become climate-neutral.

    Passive Sills wanted to push forward on this with the help of Enterprise Ireland GreenStart funding and gain a clear picture of the environmental impact of manufacturing their products.

    “In the construction industry, everything is going towards zero carbon emissions.  It’s going to be a requirement in EU legislation anyway and taking into account the Paris agreement and what this country, the world and individual companies are doing to reduce emissions, it made sense for us to get on board as soon as possible”, explains spokesperson Janice O’Leary.

    “We want to spread the word and change the way people think when they are building. They have the option to move away from heavy concrete and go for lightweight more thermally efficient options.  New Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standards requirements are a reality now and people are making more informed choices as it’s all about future proofing.  Our products including our insulated window sills and oversills suit most types of construction projects, have a lower carbon footprint and are 64% more thermally efficient than concrete, reducing cold bridging. They also have almost half the embodied carbon of concrete alternatives.”

     

    Support from GreenStart

    So how did Enterprise Ireland GreenStart support Passive Sills?  The company had very clear goals – to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of their products to understand clearly all the processes and materials that have an impact on the environment and to produce a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and a public Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) which now sits proudly on their website. Passive Sills also wanted to produce an Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) for their custom manufacturing facility in Youghal.  In addition, they wanted to receive access and training for a new online reporting tool called Ecochain, to generate detailed reports for clients.

    “The Enterprise Ireland GreenStart grant helped us to nail all of this down. While we needed a lot of information for certain calculations and it did take time, we were able to calculate our carbon footprint and were pleasantly surprised with some of the results that we found. We have now also launched a new website – lightweightmouldings.ie – offering a full range of lightweight decorative mouldings and we’re expanding our product range.”

    “The GreenStart process made us think in a slightly different way.  All of this was something that we would have had to do in the future anyway – specifically we knew the requirement for an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) would be coming down the line – and Enterprise Ireland gave us a push to get it done now.”

    “We were more than happy with the process and what we achieved and we would highly recommend the process to other businesses.”

     

    To get your business ready for a green future visit Climate Enterprise Action Fund or contact the Climate Action Team

     

    Ground-Breaking BidX1: Building GHG Strategy with GreenStart

    Fast-moving digital property company BidX1 is changing the way property is bought and sold, making the process more transparent, efficient and convenient for users.

    The firm has developed an innovative digital platform, tailored specifically for real estate transactions, and has sold over 10,000 properties to date, raising more than €2bn.

    This rapidly expanding company, which is transforming the property landscape through technology has also taken a forward-thinking approach to climate action and sustainability.  BidX1 embarked on the Enterprise Ireland GreenStart programme to help them develop a GHG Emissions and Carbon Strategy – with the goal of ensuring that environmental principles are embedded in their business model.

    The company, which is headquartered in Dublin and has operations in the UK, Spain, South Africa and Cyprus, was founded on an inherently sustainable ethos.  “We knew we were doing well from a sustainability perspective, but we didn’t have precise metrics to work with because we have been in such a high-growth phase for the past few years.”

    “We’ve now established a Carbon strategy and have calculated our emissions across every market, identifying hotspots and key areas for improvement” explains Nicole Pomeroy, Head of Communications. 

    While 2020 and the global pandemic was a watershed for traditional real estate agents, it was not a significant transition for BidX1 who pioneered a fully digital model in 2015.

    “We have developed a digital platform which connects users across the globe with property investment opportunities in 5 markets – and enables them to complete the entire transaction online. We wanted to match that level of innovation and ambition in our environmental policies, putting climate action at the forefront of our decisions as we expand existing operations and also enter new markets”, she explained.

    Passion for sustainability

    Recommending the Enterprise Ireland GreenStart process she said: “All that is needed to start the process is somebody who is passionate and committed – and who is willing to bring that passion throughout the company” referring to her colleague Eanna Glynn who is part of the finance team and the Head of Sustainability at BidX1.

    Eanna is passionate about sustainability and environmental issues and has led the charge within BidX1 with the full support of CEO Stephen McCarthy and the management team.  “We looked specifically at greenhouse gas emissions for the GreenStart process. I wanted to aim for carbon neutrality and when I spoke to the management team, they encouraged me to figure out what that journey would look like for us. We kickstarted that with a carbon assessment. It did seem daunting at first but once we had connected with our advisors via GreenStart, who are experts in this field, the process became quite seamless,” he explained.

    “We have set up a dedicated sustainability team within the company with a sustainability lead in each of our markets as we had to think globally. GreenStart with Enterprise Ireland was the starting point for that.  We have been focussed internally so far but we will now be assessing more of our suppliers to encourage change externally too”.

    They have been blown away by the enthusiasm within BidX1.  “It has had a snowball effect – it’s not just us driving this – it’s everybody.  We always thought we would be pushing a rock up a hill but for us the rock is already at the top of that hill! There is such support and enthusiasm internally – and while we have said that we can’t do everything all at once when it comes to sustainability – that enthusiasm is a good problem to have!”

    The advice from BidX1 to other companies starting out on their green transformation journey is: “Don’t be afraid. Get started, with the right advice and assistance from Enterprise Ireland. Don’t think that because you are a professional services company or office-based firm that it’s not for you and it’s not relevant. It is. Until you start measuring and are clear on your own figures and targets, you cannot effect meaningful change.  It’s not just manufacturing companies that have to race to achieve the 2050 goals – it’s everybody.”

     

    To get your business ready for a green future visit Climate Enterprise Action Fund or contact the Climate Action Team

     

     

    How digital health companies can navigate and enter the NHS

    This Enterprise Ireland webinar examines how to successfully enter and scale digital health solutions in the UK market, drawing from the experience of our panel.  

    The webinar will outline the key challenges and opportunities for digital health companies entering the NHS from both a supplier and NHS procurement perspective. With expert insights from:

    –             Sonia Neary, CEO and Founder of Wellola

    –             Niall Rafferty, CEO and Founder Medxnote

    –             Dr Sam Shah – Chief Medical Strategy Officer at Numan & previous        Director of Digital Development for NHSX

    –             Andy Kinnear – Former CIO, NHS

     

    Post-Brexit Construction in Ireland & the UK

    Chaired by Anne Corr, Construction Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland and joined by a panel of leading construction lawyers, this Evolve UK webinar examines the legal ramifications on how Brexit has impacted:

    – Labour and Resourcing

    – Goods and Materials

    – Standards and Regulations

    – Opportunities and Risks

     

    With insights from

    Dominic Jones, Partner at UK law firm Blake Morgan,

    Jamie Ritchie, Partner in the Projects and Construction Team at Irish law firm LK Shields

    Lisa Boyd, Director and Head of Procurement Law at Northern Ireland law firm Cleaver Fulton Rankin

     

    Evolve UK Webinar – UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook

    Enterprise Ireland UK’s webinar: UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook provided attendees with an update on the UK water sector and discussed the Net Zero 2030 Routemap.

    Experts from across the industry gave their perspective on key issues, including the AMP 7 investment cycle, the sector’s plan to deliver upon a net zero strategy and the role that supply chain companies will play in achieving the sector’s carbon reduction targets.

    Watch the webinar to hear expert insights from

    –             Lee Horrocks, Director, LCH Executive

    –             Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

    –             Samuel Larsen, Programme Lead, Water UK

    –             David Riley, Head of Carbon Neutrality, Anglian Water

     

    UKCA/CE Marking & How It Will Impact Your Business

     

    The webinar, UKCA/CE Marking & How It Will Impact Your Business, discussed the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessment) mark – the new UK product marking that will be required for certain products being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most products that previously required the CE mark and will be relevant to many of our clients that export products to the UK. 

    The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, you will still be able to use the CE marking until 1 January 2022.

    This webinar will be helpful to anyone who wants to understand the complex requirements for UKCA marking and will focus on: 

    • Accreditation and Designation of Approved Bodies including UKAS’s role 

    • UKCA marking and the law: what you need to know

    • The marking and requirements for Northern Ireland

    • Trading with the UK: Product Regulatory Requirements and implications for the supply chain

    Read how Flynn built its international presence

    This time last year, none of us were aware of the disaster which was about to unfold across the globe. But 12 months on, industry across every sector is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic which continues to make its presence felt.

    But while some businesses were affected more than others, the construction sector in many areas of the world, has continued to carry out essential works and this, according to Cormac McKenna of Flynn, a Dublin based international construction company, has been beneficial for many companies which have expanded outside Ireland.

    “We have been active in mainland Europe for four years and have branches in Denmark and Germany,” says McKenna, who has been with the company for 12 years. “We are predominantly in the data centre sector in mainland Europe and our offices have a blend of both Irish and local staff.

    “We have also been active in the UK for nearly three years and have a regional office in London, servicing this market in the general contracting, fit-out and data centre markets.”

    McKenna, a director with Flynn, oversees operations in Dublin and mainland Europe and says the move outside Ireland came about as a result of building on existing relationships and pitching the expertise the firm was confident would add value to European and UK projects.

    “Our network of clients, design teams and traditional contactor partners have brought us data centre opportunities in Denmark initially – and these led to further operations in Northern Europe, the Nordics and the Benelux regions,” he says. “We are fortunate to have been able to continue working in Europe during the pandemic as it affected Irish business badly because the sector has been shut down twice during national lockdowns.

    “Construction has continued in both the UK and Germany and because we have been working on data centres, which are deemed essential.

    The main difficulty has been getting workforce to and from sites as every jurisdiction has its own restrictions – so in some places there are quarantine regulations and in other countries, there is a requirement to provide a negative PCR test. Everywhere is different, but you just have to roll with the punches, be nimble and able to change approach as and when is necessary. And we have relied heavily on our workforce to be flexible in their approach.”

    Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing as operating in different countries can be challenging, even without a global pandemic.

    “Apart from the obvious challenges to be overcome such as supply chain, logistics, legislative issues, taxation, industrial relations and nuances in the construction regulations in any new jurisdiction we enter, working overseas also raises the additional challenge of ensuring that operations in remote locations are delivered with same culture and quality that we insist on,” says McKenna.

     

    Building an international presence

    “The main issues we have faced were around sourcing supply chain and getting to grips with local legislation from an industrial relations perspective and contract law perspective. But our auditors and accountants are Grant Thornton who have an international presence, which gives us a lot of satisfaction and comfort in knowing that our approach is correct.

    “We have opened offices in London, Copenhagen and Frankfurt. And Enterprise Ireland and our international auditors and accountants have been key to the successful establishment of a foothold in these markets.  The key to success has also been leaning heavily on our network and ensuring we asked plenty of questions of the right people.”

    Along with keeping its European interests ticking over, Flynn has also been looking after its clients here at home – but the various lockdowns have made this difficult at times.

    “Like all businesses in construction, Covid 19 has affected our operations,” says McKenna. “We, like many companies, have faced difficulties and have faced additional costs for control measures and also to cover for staff who either contracted Covid or were close contacts of someone with the virus.  But we managed to get through the past year by investing in people and systems along with physical controls on our sites to ensure we have industry leading controls and management systems in place.

    “Our business had well tested systems for remote working and collaboration to allow our project teams and regional offices to communicate effectively.  And as working restrictions were imposed, these existing systems have paid real dividends and we feel we are working as effectively as possible while keeping our teams safe.

    The Dublin based firm has been in business for over 16 years and prides itself in the quality of its people and the prestige of its clients.  And according to McKenna, Enterprise Ireland has helped with this success.

    “Flynn is predominantly a main contractor but over the past five years we have brought our main contracting experience to package contracting in the Hyperscale Data Centre Market,” says the company director. “And we feel the expertise in bringing teams of trusted trade contractors together and managing the entire CSA solution for our clients, brings tangible added value to any Hyperscale DC we have been involved in.

    “Enterprise Ireland has been a key partner in our international growth. Their representatives are always at the end of the phone for advice and have provided key introductions in local authorities, supply chain parties and in some instances leads for new business.  They have also provided tangible supports from a training and marketing perspective.

    “In addition, we found the Market Discovery Fund and some of the supports we got in the marketing field to be very effective. Some of the introductions they made for us in both Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK was a great help. And also, just having someone at the other end of the phone to bounce ideas off, has been invaluable.”

    The company has over 140 employees across Ireland and Europe and is currently looking to further its portfolio with opportunities in Ireland, UK and Mainland Europe. and McKenna says while 2021 may be a difficult time for construction firms to be thinking of expanding abroad, once the current crisis is over, there could be plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

    “There is a definite advantage to being an Irish company overseas, particularly one with Irish employees as we are known for having the mindset of getting things done,” he says. “In the high tech and data centre world, schedule is key and the Irish work ethic of doing what you say you will do and doing it on time, is a great advantage as we can be trusted to get the job done.

    “Our aim so to grow our client base across Europe, to grow our team and to bring added value to future data centre projects.  My advice to firms thinking of doing the same, would be to complete extensive research in the jurisdiction you are targeting and use the Enterprise Ireland team as they provide a lot of useful information and contacts.”

    The New UK – Succeeding in a Changing Market

    The UK Market is evolving. Irish companies are demonstrating incredible resilience in adapting to a changing landscape and are now looking to the future. Join our webinar on February 11th at 9am ‘The New UK: Succeeding in a Changing Market’.

    During this webinar we will be joined by a panel of guests to explore changes underway in the UK and Ireland’s unique relationship with this major market on our doorstep. Panellists include:

    • Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland
    • Adrian O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom
    • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
    • Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

    The CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners, a leading global consultancy specialising in top-line growth strategies, will share his insights on how to succeed in this new world and profit levers to consider.

    The webinar will also see CEOs from a range of Irish companies including Dublin AerospaceEI ElectronicsVRAIEPS, and Gifts Direct/The Irish Store, sharing their UK growth strategies – inspiring others with growth ambition.

    Register to view our on-demand webinar.

    Supporting Regional Development Critical To Future Jobs Growth

     

    Resilience is a word we became used to in 2020 and it is an apt term to describe how Irish business responded to the dual challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period.

    For thousands of businesses across Ireland, and their staff, it has been a tough, challenging year marked by disruption and uncertainty. But what has been remarkable is how Irish businesses have responded to the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

    At Enterprise Ireland we work closely with the Irish manufacturing, export and internationally traded services sector.  We invest in established companies and start-ups, we assist companies to begin exporting or expand into new markets and we back research and development projects creating future jobs.

    This week we launched our annual review for 2020.  The good news is that the companies we are proud to support employ more than 220,000 in Ireland.  Despite the challenges faced in last year, nearly 16,500 new jobs were created, closely mirroring the 2019 outturn.

    However, job losses were significantly higher than in previous years, resulting in a net reduction of 872 jobs across the companies we support.

    There is no sugar coating the fact that it was a tough year for business.  However, behind these statistics are individual stories of companies taking brave decisions to change their business model, reimagine their product offering and find new ways of doing business and connecting with customers to trade through the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

    Enterprise Ireland has worked with these companies throughout the year to ensure viable companies have the liquidity, supports and advice they need to trade, and importantly, to sustain jobs.

    Enterprise Ireland supported companies have a key role in the Irish economy.  65% of employment is outside the Dublin region and these indigenous Irish companies, many of which are world leaders in their field, are critical to delivering balanced regional economic development.

    Powering the Regions is Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for regional development.  It outlines specific plans for each region in the country, drawing on their existing enterprise base, their connections with third level institutions and their unique potential for growth.

    The strategy is backed significant funding.  This time last year more than €40m was allocated, in a competitive call, to 26 projects fostering regional entrepreneurship and job creation.

    These included the Future Mobility Campus Ireland, based in Clare, which explores the potential of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles, UCDNova’s Ag Tech innovation centre in Kildare and the Clermont Hub in Wicklow which focuses on content creation and draws on the region’s established film and audio/visual track record.  The 26 projects were supported under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, which has seen €100m invested in similar projects since 2017.

    Given the potential impact of Brexit, particularly in the Border region, 11 similar projects designed to cluster expertise and innovation were supported with €17m in support under the Border Enterprise Development Fund in 2020.

    These were strategic initiatives, closely linked to government regional policy, with a medium to long-term focus on supporting regional enterprise.

    However, due to Covid-19, Enterprise Ireland moved last year to provide more agile interventions to regional businesses assist them to reset and recover.

    Ensuring that viable companies had the access to finance was an important necessity.  Through the government-backed ‘Sustaining Enterprise Scheme’ Enterprise Ireland allocated €124m last year to support more than 400 companies employing more than 10,000 people.  The majority of this funding went to regionally based companies.

    Similarly, €8.2m in funding for 95 enterprise centres, which are critical to the start-up ecosystem and future job growth regionally, was made available in September.

    Retail business across Ireland also benefitted from the Online Retail Scheme which saw 330 retailers allocated €11.8m in funding to enhance their online offering, reach new customers and increase sales.

    Through a mix of strategic funding aimed at long-term enterprise development and more agile funding supports Enterprise Ireland has helped to sustain jobs throughout Ireland in 2020.  We’ve also supported those sectors, such as cleantech, construction and life sciences which continued to grow and create jobs last year.

    The pandemic will have lasting effects including how we work and where we work.  Many of these long-term changes can complement strong local and regional economies.  A key element of the Powering The Regions strategy was the potential of remote working and co-working hubs that Enterprise Ireland is committed to developing with our partners.  That potential has been accelerated by the changing work patterns evidenced in the past year. Now, more than ever, having a strategic approach to enterprise development is vital, and Enterprise Ireland looks forward to the role it can play as we recover and build for the future.

    By Mark Christal, Manager, Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.

    New African Dawn: Launch of the Continental Free Trade Agreement

    A new year usually brings with it hope, optimism and new resolutions. The first two weeks of 2021 have however been fraught with the on-going pandemic, Britain’s exit from the EU and increased protectionism and populism around the globe. In marked contrast with this tone, one continent is pushing forward with hope, optimism and new resolutions.

    The first of January 2021 saw the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This milestone agreement strives for greater trade cooperation on the continent. The aim is to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4-trillion economic bloc that will be the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. This agreement comes into force, with support from 54 of the 55 countries recognised by the African Union (Eritrea being the sole exception) is a hugely positive move.

    The Agreement establishing the AfCFTA was signed in March 2018 and of the 54 Member States of the African Union that have signed, 30 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

    The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single market for goods and services, facilitate the movement of persons, promote industrial development and sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth, and resolve the issue of multiple memberships, in accordance with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The agreement lays a solid foundation for the establishment of a Continental Common Market.

    AfCFTA presents a significant opportunity to boost intra-regional trade as well as increase Africa’s negotiating position on the international stage. Intra-African trade has always been relatively low. In 2019, only 15% of Africa’s $560-billion worth of imports came from the continent – compare this with a figure of 68% in the European Union (UNCTAD).

    In addition, many African nations have struggled to develop better-enabling environments for attracting investment and it should follow that this agreement will help to make the continent an increasingly attractive location for foreign companies seeking to penetrate its huge market potential.

    This landmark agreement is off the starting block but there is much to be negotiated to reach the desired goal of #OneAfricanMarket.

    Under AfCFTA trading, with an aim to eliminate export tariffs on 97% of goods traded on the continent, tariffs on various commodities where rules of origin have been agreed will be drastically reduced and businesses of all sizes will have access to a much bigger market than they used to before. Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade will also be addressed and a mechanism for reporting of NTBs has been put in place (www.tradebarriers.africa).

    In parallel to the AfCFTA, the African Union has also introduced the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.

    Though it will be years before the AfCFTA is fully implemented, the significant steps that have been taken to get the agreement to this point should not be underestimated, particularly in the current difficult global environment. Increasing prosperity on the African continent will ensure that it continues to be a continent of great interest to Irish exporters.

    Enterprise Ireland has been assisting Irish companies to navigate the Sub-Saharan African market through our office in Johannesburg, along with an established and growing network of industry specialists across the continent. Contact us to learn more about the opportunities for your business in this growing export destination.

    Nicola Kelly, Senior Market Advisor, Middle East, Africa & India