…As third Intra-African Trade Fair opens in Cairo
The third Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023) kicked off in Cairo on Thursday with Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria and chairman of the IATF2023 Advisory Council, saying that intra-African trade holds the key to unlocking Africa’s true potential and fuelling economic growth, fostering industrialisation and creating job opportunities for the people of the continent.
Addressing participants and guests at the trade fair, Obasanjo said that beyond being just an exhibition of goods and services, IATF2023 was a platform for networking, collaboration and knowledge-sharing and was bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and policymakers from across Africa and its Diaspora to exchange ideas, forge partnerships and explore new opportunities.
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“It is through this spirit of cooperation and collaboration that we will unlock the untapped potential of our continent,” he said, adding that the trade fair signified the commitment of Africa and its diaspora nations to economic integration and to their collective determination to create a prosperous future.
President Obasanjo called on African government leaders, policy makers, and representatives to foster an environment conducive to trade by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, harmonising regulations and investing in necessary infrastructure. IATF2023 was a stepping stone towards a future where African nations traded freely, breaking down barriers and opening doors of opportunities for all, he added.
He urged entrepreneurs and innovators to seize the moment to build bridges of commerce between nations and within communities by embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship and leveraging technology to unlock new markets, connect small-scale farmers with global partners and empower women-owned businesses.
Earlier, Ahmed Samir Saleh, minister of Trade and industry of Egypt, had welcomed guests to the trade fair and expressed Egypt’s happiness at hosting the event.
The ceremony also featured the projection of a hologram of Kwame Nkrumah, the former President of Ghana who was a key proponent of a united Africa.
IATF2023 is Africa’s largest trade and investment fair projected to attract over 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors and buyers. Trade and investment deals valued at US$43 billion are expected to be concluded during the trade fair seen as a must attend event for everyone interested in trade and investments in Africa’s single market of 1.4 billion people created by the AfCFTA which has a combined gross domestic product of over US$3.5 trillion. Attendees include buyers, sellers, importers, exporters, investors, manufacturers, captains of industry, senior government ministers, trade finance and advisory specialists, trade and economic organisations, senior executives from corporates and multinationals and innovative entrepreneurs from across Africa and beyond.
Organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) is intended to provide a unique platform for facilitating trade and investment information exchange in support of increased intra-African trade and investment, especially in the context of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). IATF brings together continental and global players to showcase and exhibit their goods and services and to explore business and investment opportunities in the continent. It also provides a platform to share trade, investment and market information with stakeholders and allows participants to discuss and identify solutions to the challenges confronting intra-African trade and investment. In addition to African participants, the Trade Fair is also open to businesses and investors from non-African countries interested in doing business in Africa and in supporting the continent’s transformation through industrialisation and export development.