Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will leave tomorrow for three African countries to promote Thailand's new strategy on the continent, which is set to be a new market for Thai investors.
Narong Sasithorn, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's South Asia, Middle East and Africa Department, said the premier will launch the "Thailand-Africa Initiative".
Ms Yingluck will visit Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda starting tomorrow and concluding next Friday.
It will be the first official visit by any Thai leader to these three countries.
At least 17 agreements will be signed during the trip, Mr Narong said.
Of these, Thailand will sign eight agreements with Mozambique, six with Tanzania and three with Uganda.
About 60 Thai businessmen from sectors including energy, food, construction and tourism will accompany the premier.
The African markets hold great trade and investment potential for Thailand as their population stands at 1.1 billion people and this is expected to grow to 1.4 billion in the next seven years, Mr Narong said.
About 65% of the African population is under 35, making it attractive to investors who need workers, as well as to the consumer market, he added.
Mr Narong said urbanisation in Africa will expand as only 300 million of the continent's people live in cities.
Over the next decade, African cities will become bigger and consumer spending will increase.
"This is an opportunity for Thai investors to come to Africa as it is also rich in forest, fishery, oil, gas and mineral resources," Mr Narong said.
Ms Yingluck will deliver a speech on the theme "Common Challenges, Shared Destiny" during her visit to Tanzania on Tuesday and will discuss links between the Thai-backed Dawei port in Myanmar and Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port.
In Mozambique, Ms Yingluck will launch a volunteer project modelled after the Unites States' Peace Corps programme, which will send Thai volunteers to help develop African countries. These volunteers will be selected from various fields of expertise, including agriculture, energy, health, education and tourism.
Mozambique is looking at Thailand as a model for development.
Ms Yingluck will stress the importance of cooperation between Thailand and Africa in the energy, jewellery and infrastructure sectors, Mr Narong said.
She will discuss roads and railways and aim to sell more rice to Mozambique, which imports more than 200,000 tonnes of Thai rice a year - 56 % of the country's rice imports.
In Uganda, Thai investors will look at investment opportunities in agriculture and the oil and gas industries.
Courtesy of Bangkok Post