The first-ever Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) to be held on the continent opened on Tuesday, in Cairo with the president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah, calling for the implementation of initiatives that will add meaning to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“We need to implement initiatives that will add meaning to that singular event, initiatives that will catalyse a strong production/industrial base for production of export manufacturing, initiatives that will improve our knowledge of, and access to, trade and investment information and initiatives that will facilitate movement of goods across borders in competitive terms,”Mr Oramah told participants in the IATF opening ceremony.
The IATF, organised by Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union, and hosted by the government of Egypt, will last until December 17 and is expected to attract about 70,000 visitors, a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, highlighted.
Mr Oramah said the signing of the AfCFTA had sent a strong message to the world that Africa was ready to chart a new path, a path to economic independence and a willingness to look inward for industrial growth.
He said that Afreximbank was working to promote the emergence of robust continental supply chains and expressed confidence that the networking opportunities at the IATF would become a “potent force to begin to dismantle the well laid colonial structures that have disintegrated Africa for close to a century.”
Former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also chairman of the IATF Advisory Council, noted that the fair came after the successful signing of the AfCFTA, which seeks to enhance trade and economic growth across Africa, and expressed conviction that the IATF would contribute immensely to the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Mr Obasanjo described the trade fair as a crucial instrument in making the AfCFTA work and said that Africa should focus on “what trade is needed, where the markets are, the size of, and the standards in those markets, and how to join the value chains that serve them”.
“It is our duty to create the environment where the entrepreneurial spirit of Africans can succeed.
“Stronger economies yield the rewards of better health, education, improved employment opportunities and prosperity for all. I want our future generations to have greater expectations, greater choices and greater opportunities to succeed. It should be their right and I want this to become the norm rather than the exception.”
In his statement, Albert Muchanga, the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, highlighted the important role of the IATF in bringing about economic transformation on the continent and called on all African Union Member States to ratify the AfCTFA and make the single African market of over 1 billion people a reality.
Mustafa Madbouly, Prime Minister of Egypt, said the AfCFTA represented a great achievement for African integration, adding that the large number of participants in the IATF was “an indication of the necessity of this type of intervention”.
He applauded the organisation of the IATF, which created a platform for working with African entrepreneurs to build African wealth.
The opening ceremony included a ribbon cutting ceremony by Mr Obasanjo, to declare the IATF open.
Transactions worth about $25 billion are expected to be concluded at the IATF which has almost 1,100 registered exhibitors from 42 countries.
Meanwhile, on Monday, ahead of the kick-off of the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018) which opened on Tuesday, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in the Egyptian capital announced the go live of the Virtual Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF Virtual).
An announcement by the Bank described IATF Virtual as an online platform for buyers and sellers to meet, exchange trade and market information and showcase their products and capabilities to new markets.
According to the announcement, IATF Virtual mimicked the inaugural IATF, which will run from 11 to 17 December, but will continue well after the physical trade fair would have concluded, with companies with a virtual presence being able to meet attendees, answer questions, and pursue deals in real time, a statement from the bank made available to PREMIUM TIMES, revealed.
All companies exhibiting at the IATF 2018 will be granted free access to IATF Virtual for 12 months while other exhibitors will be required to pay a standard rate of $750 for 12 months.
Exhibitors will receive a Virtual Booth package which consists of an interactive booth, custom-branded with company logo; a custom visitor search feature; live private and group chats with buyers around the world; windows to corporate information, products and/or services; email alerts from visitors to an unattended booth; and 12-month continuous virtual trade show promotion and booth access.
IATF Virtual can be accessed through the ‘Virtual Trade Fair’ link on the IATF website or by visiting the following website
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade.
The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors. Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organization, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations.
Since 1994, it has approved about $60 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $8.5 billion in 2017. Afreximbank had total assets of $11.9 billion as at 31 December 2017 and is rated BBB+ (GCR), Baa1 (Moody’s), and BBB- (Fitch).
The Bank is headquartered in Cairo.