Senior government ministers, leading business executives and investors from seven African nations will join UK leaders at the second UK-Francophone West and Central Africa Trade and Investment Forum (WCAF) taking place in London.

Organised by UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, and DMA Invest, the Forum brings together prominent representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Senegal and Togo to discuss new trade and investment opportunities with their UK counterparts that will benefit British businesses.

WCAF takes place on 17-18 October following last year’s event underlining growing trade and commerce relations between the UK and Francophone markets on the continent.

Delegates officially kick-started the WCAF on Tuesday by ringing the opening bell of the London Stock Exchange, the UK Export Finance, an export credit agency that is also a government department, said in a statement.

The trade and investment meeting showcases the UK’s efforts to open up new export and investment opportunities for businesses, International Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston said in the statement.

“West and Central Africa is a huge investment opportunity for the UK,” he said.

“The Francophone markets have a clear vision for delivering economic growth and prosperity, and the UK is ready to support those countries by building long-term, modern partnerships that are mutually beneficial.”

Delegations from the seven African nations will join leading UK companies and investors to develop partnerships aimed at promoting economic growth, the organisers said.

“The WCAF is very catalytic in boosting investment in West and Central Africa,” Lawrence Ngorand, a commercial diplomat with the Department for Business and Trade in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire said in a message posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Over the course of the Forum, representatives will take part in tailored discussions and panel sessions to explore new trading opportunities across key areas like sustainability, agriculture, energy and healthcare.

The event is part of the government’s strategy of working with a range of African partners to promote two-way trade and investment ahead of the UK-African Investment Summit in April 2024.

The UK Foreign Office said earlier this year that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host a UK-African Investment Summit in London on 23-24 April 2024.

The UK Export Financ Is the UK’s export credit agency and a government department, working alongside the Department for Business & Trade as a part of its operations. It ensures no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance.

(Editing by Seban Scaria;