Finland as a global economic player?

At a presentation to visiting African journalists held recently in Helsinki, Finland, Ambassador Kirsti Aarnio, representing the Finnish Department for Development Policy, spoke recently of Finland’s main partner countries in Africa. Ambassador Aarnio highlighted the prioritisation of African affairs in Finnish development policy, and of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Ambassador Aarnio recalled that his country’s development work started in East Africa, in Tanzania and In Kenya. with its first cooperation programmes, before referring to the four-year lifecycle of its development programme. There are bilateral negotiations with states – Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Sudan and Somalia have benefited from Finland’s programmes for development.

The ambassador detailed the processes of partnership. “Country negotiations are the beginning of state to state programmes. These lead into negotiations on details with embassies, then institutions and other agencies. Everything we do has to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”

Programmes include local cooperation funds, which can involve the provision of seed money for small projects. There are also trade partnership programmes, with more substantive aims.

Ambassador Aarnio spoke, also, of multilateral cooperation. Much of this activity has moved from core funding to earmarked funding provision. The ambassador offered the example of Ethiopia, and Finnish support for a fistula hospital in that country. There is strong support in Finland for pursuance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will be reviewed n 2015.


Sustainable practices at Metso

Focusing more squarely on industrial collaboration between Finland and African nations was Jari Riihilahti, Metso Corporation VP of Technology Management and Research, Mining and Construction Technology, and Jukka Seppälä, Metso’s VP for Stakeholder Relations and Trade Policy.

Jari and Jukka spoke on Finnish contribution to the building of a sustainable future for African economies. Jukka is in charge of stakeholder relationships, and has extensive contacts with the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Jari works in mining and construction at Metso.

Metso has locations in 50 countries. In Africa, Metso is in Algeria, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia. South Africa is its biggest market, with Ghana its second biggest market. It is involved in mining, construction, power generation, oil and gas, recycling, and pulp and paper. Five per cent of its net sales are in Africa and the Middle East (which is actually the same percentage as its business in Finland). In Sub-Saharan Africa, where it employees 1,300 people, Metso works with several partners including Anglo American, Impala Platinum and Rio Tinto.

In South Africa, incidentally, Metso is in mining, construction, energy and environmental and paper processing technology.

Jari spoke, also, of sustainability technologies. Metso regards this area of industry as highly significant, with respect to market development, customer retention, and new business.

“Environmental technology and services are the backbone of development at Metso,” Jari said.

Metso has also been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2006, which prescribes ten principles for sustainable business. And Metso has engaged with South African communities, in the SOS Children’s’ Village. Moreover, Metso is also practicing and promoting eco efficiency guidelines for buildings that have been developed by WWF Finland.


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