South Africa hosts a week-long Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021), which provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP over $ 2.5 trillion.
Organized by the African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union and the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), this is the 2nd edition of the IATF, which will take place in Durban from November 15-21. .
The opening ceremony drew high-level speakers, including African Presidents, who provided insight into the economic opportunities, challenges and threats for Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his opening speech that South Africa is ready to work with other African countries to foster more balanced, fair and equitable trade relations for the benefit of the continent.
“This trade fair is all about building bridges. It’s about connecting countries. It’s also about connecting people. Today Africa is taking concrete steps to write its own economic success story and this intra-African trade fair is part of that story. Africa is opening up new fields of opportunity, ”he said.
President Ramaphosa also wants to see more labels made in Africa, because “this is essential if we are to change the distorted trade relations that exist between African countries and the rest of the world. We can no longer have a situation where Africa exports raw materials and imports finished products with these materials. By promoting trade in Africa, we are strengthening our own industrial base and producing goods for ourselves and for each other.
He stressed the need “to use the combination of raw materials and industrial capabilities, finance, services and infrastructure of the continent to produce quality end products in local and global markets”. And “on creating a market large enough to attract investors from around the world to locate their production facilities on the continent,” Ramaphosa said.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stressed: “Today, Africa begins a collaborative journey towards collective economic prosperity. We cannot achieve this by speaking alone. The implementation, the difficult course and the challenges are surmountable if the public and private sectors work together. On the public sector side, governments must help local entrepreneurs to develop and therefore improve productivity. “
He added that “the African Continental Free Trade Area must make the effort to ensure that Africa becomes a market where no country is left behind, create jobs and increase incomes for all parties. “.
Afreximbank Chairman and Board Chairman Prof Benedict Oramah called IATF2021 a collective effort to boost the economies of African countries and an attempt at a global economic recovery backed by political support. “It offers a complete solution, it’s not just a trade show.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said that to make intra-African trade a reality, it is necessary to review border procedures, improve transport infrastructure and make air routes efficient. Achieving intra-African trade requires efficient and regular electricity distribution and broadband connectivity especially in large industrialized and urbanized African cities.
African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat General Secretary Wamkele Mene said: “The next wave of investment in African markets must focus on productive sectors of the African economy in order to boost industrial development. of the continent in the decades to come.
Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, said that in the medium term, the vision is to transform the brand of the intra-African trade fair “into a vehicle for use. special self-financed, which will belong to all Africans. Member States of the Union and Pan-African Financial Institutions ”.
Other specific remarks were made by: Hakainde Hichilema, (Zambia); Rt. Dr Edouard Ngirente, (Prime Minister of Rwanda); Hussein Mwinyi, (representing Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania), and Emmerson Mnangagwa, (Zimbabwe).
The first edition of the IATF was held in Cairo under the auspices of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The second edition was originally scheduled for 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It has been rescheduled and the venue has been changed to the Durban International Convention Center, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.