Dear Members and Friends,
Breaking news came through yesterday on changes taking place in the senior leadership team at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which is now being picked up and reported on in the media. Senior diplomat and Director General (DG) for Africa Moazzam Malik declined a role in the new structure, so has effectively resigned. In other changes, Political Director Tim Barrow will take on a new Permanent Undersecretary role next to Philip Barton; Nick Dyer will return to become DG Humanitarian and Development Issues and other DGs have seen their roles change in what appears to be a signpost towards a greater focus on geographies and security.
Back to our activities, it does seem that there has been a step-change in activity in the last week or two. The transport network seems to have been particularly hectic and in discussion with many of you, there has been a notable increase in in-person activities. We are enjoying this ‘restrictions free’ period and a return to some ‘normalcy’. Against this backdrop, we have been pleased to host and facilitate several very well attended events this week.
Our Education Working Group participated in a session with Education ministries in the ASEAN Region to discuss the challenges of learning loss recovery following COVID-19. The ‘Recover learning and rebuild education in the ASEAN region’ webinar was co-hosted by the ASEAN Secretariat, British Expertise International and our members Cambridge Partnership for Education, with other member organisations — Promethean, Palladium, Cambridge Education Mott Macdonald, Education Development Trust — speaking, chairing ministerial panels, and leading the discussions. Two years after COVID-19 related school closures first affected the quality of education for more than 152 million children in Southeast Asia, our members discussed recent interventions, successes and challenges around learning loss and accelerated learning, access to education, and building resilience in education systems with Ministers of Education and representatives from the ASEAN member states.
We were delighted to welcome Ben Llewellyn Jones, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria and the team of sector specialists based in Lagos and Abuja for a virtual event on Nigeria’s market opportunities for UK companies. The event featured an impressive overview of the political scene in Nigeria, a summary of opportunities in Infrastructure, Education and Climate Change. The exciting opportunities were balanced by a summary of the challenges of doing business in Nigeria. We plan to follow up with a series of ‘deep dives’ into specific sub-sectors and opportunities. The recording of the event is available to Members on the BEI website.
We also hosted an in-person lunch with Kenan Poleo, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Network (EECAN) and British Consul General in Istanbul. With a combined population of 380 million, EECAN is a cluster of 14 countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Recent events have thrown the entire region into uncertainty and a lot of the geopolitics has changed; DIT activities in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have been paused. There was a strong message from DIT that they will continue supporting UK organisations in the region in this uncertain next chapter of history. There was a wide range of British expertise represented around the table, with members keen to support the region’s countries in building capacity in policymaking, anticorruption and the rule of law — as well as healthcare, education, infrastructure and engineering.
Next week, on the 23rd March, we look forward to Lunch with Vietnam’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Mr Hoang Long Nguyen. With a growing economy, Vietnam offers some great opportunities for UK businesses in a wide range of sectors. The country has a large, young population and a growing middle class. Vietnam achieved 2.8% growth in 2020, following 7% in 2019 (World Bank, 2021) and is on track to bounce back strongly following the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. This event comes just a week in advance of our exhibition, in partnership with the Vietnamese Embassy featuring the work of a 14 year-old prodigy. Members and friends are welcome to join us at the Private View — for more detail and to register, click here: Xeo Chu Exhibition: Private Viewing.
Sadly, we have had to postpone the planned market opportunities overview on Egypt scheduled for next week — we will confirm the revised date for this session shortly.
As I mentioned last week, our annual ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ series will take place from 13th to 23rd June 2022. In total we are looking to schedule 12 regional sessions across the two weeks. We look forward to communicating the details in the coming weeks.
Finally, with Spring officially starting on Sunday, I hope the weather remains bright for you all over the weekend.
With Best Wishes
Chief Executive Officer
British Expertise International
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Currently most of our events are hosted virtually and we are starting to explore face to face and hybrid event options as the government eases socialising restrictions. For any event registration support please contact the events team. Click on titles to access full event details. The full calendar of events can be viewed here and recently added event dates are highlighted with an asterisk*.
22nd March — BEI Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Working Group
31st March — Xeo Chu Exhibition: Private Viewing
4th April — BEI Education Working Group
11th April — BEI Girls’ Education Working Group
13th April — Lunch with Mike Short: Chief Scientific Advisor
External News & Events
21st -25th March — A market access roadshow will be taking place in the UK. One of the forums will be for UK businesses to address their concerns on barriers they’ve faced doing business in Kenya, and/or while trying to access the Kenyan market. There will also be another forum for B2B networking with Kenyan businesses seeking potential matchmaking opportunities with UK companies. To register, click here.
22nd March 09:30 — SBJBC Roundtable with The National Centre for Privatisation (NCP) NCP is responsible for managing the ambitious Saudi PPP and privatisation programme. It formulates regulations, creates privatisation frameworks, and prepares government assets and services identified for privatisation. It is also responsible for investor outreach to encourage local and international companies to participate in PPP transactions once tenders are launched. To learn more please click here or to register: Please email Cordelia Begbie at email@example.com
24th March — The next free webinar hosted by DevelopmentAid on the topic “Doing Business with Belgian Development Agency Enabel” is taking place on the 24th of March. Please see here for more details.
Mid April (dates TBC) — British Embassy in Tashkent is inviting UK companies to attend its flagship event — Uzbek British Trade and Investment Council (UBTIC). This is the official bilateral trade and investment forum convened by the governments of the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. For more details, please contact Komila.Khamidova@fcdo.gov.uk.
25th — 29th April — Spatial analysis in QGIS and R — An Introduction for Environmental Scientists. Running over four half-day sessions, this hands-on and interactive online course will give you an introduction to spatial data analysis in an open-source environment. For more information click here and to sign up and pay online click here.
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