The Third Africa Ireland Economic Forum will take place on the 3rd of October 2013. This date will coincide with the next meeting of the Global Irish Network. Both events involve the building and strengthening of networks and connections between Ireland and important trading partners, including Africa. The event is organised by my Department in close consultation with the African Embassies and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School and we are working closely together to finalise the agenda for the October meeting. The overall objective of the Africa Ireland Economic Forum is to facilitate the forging of opportunities for Irish businesses to network with potential African partners. In 2012, over 230 participants attended the Forum including representatives from 23 African countries and over 160 Irish business interests. At the first Forum, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the Africa Strategy - Ireland and Africa: Our Partnership with a Changing Continent. The Strategy recognises the imperative to move beyond aid and to develop deeper political, economic and trade relations. Today, over 170 Irish companies are currently doing business in South Africa and employing over 13,000 people locally. In West Africa, Irish companies now employ more than 15,000 people directly. This is a sign of real and positive change in the extent and nature of our relationship with Africa. The Third Africa Ireland Economic Forum has already created great interest, building on the positive energy unleashed by the two earlier Fora. I am looking forward, with the Tánaiste, to hosting the Forum and to the presentations, debate and dialogue which will take place on the occasion.