Africa banks hope on trade and investment…as Intra-African Trade Fair begins

The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) hosting key stakeholders from the world of trade, including entrepreneurs, financiers, governments, and regulators, on one platform to deliberate on trade acceleration and investment throughout the African continent has opened in Durban, South Africa yesterday. 

The week-long event is being organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

Over 10,000 participants from across Africa are attending with US$40 billion of trade and investment deals expected to be concluded at the event.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa said “we need to leverage platforms such as the Intra-African Trade Fair to mobilise all African governments, together with our social partners, to work tirelessly to address youth unemployment.”

He said half of Africa’s population were women and were the dominant actors in the informal sectors of Africa’s economic landscape.

Despite this, he said women only generated around a third of the continent’s combined Gross Domestic Product.

“It is important that the Intra-African Trade Fair gives special attention to African women in business, recognising their great potential as drivers of economic change across the continent. Trade is built on a bedrock of investment. We must therefore find ways of attracting more investment into our economies, and, crucially, we must encourage African businesses to invest in each other’s countries,” he said.

He said “this requires that we improve the ease of doing business in our countries and provide protection for investors through strong and independent legal systems that will ensure the sanctity of contract and fair and expeditious legal processes. It means also that investors must be sensitive to our continent’s development goals: jobs, industrialisation, and development of local entrepreneurs.”

The conditions of Africa’s workers, the President said, must improve as part of its development goals and the decent work agenda that African countries have committed to must find expression in trade, investment and industrial frameworks.

“As countries let us work with speed to resolve any outstanding issues around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), let those countries who have not already ratified it do so; and let us take the necessary steps towards domestication. We are greatly encouraged by the sentiment expressed by the African Development Bank a few weeks ago that the implementation of the AfCFTA will be a key component of the bank’s lending programme and that working with the AfCFTA Secretariat the bank hopes to amass a number of AfCFTA aligned investments,” he said.

The AfCFTA, the South African President said would provide new export opportunities for ‘Made in Africa’ products and enable member countries to trade with each other without tariffs or other hindrances.

“All of this will help the continent to absorb the 10 to 12 million African youth looking to enter the job market annually. The AfCFTA should therefore be underpinned by strong and ambitious rules of origin, requiring a very high level of value-addition here on our continent. We need, as Africans, to resist the temptation to simply become transhipment centres, adding only limited industrial value in Africa,” he said.

The AfCFTA, he said would unlock more value and give effect to the dream of African development if it promotes complementary trade between countries.

“It is about using the combination of the continent’s raw materials and industrial capacity, finance, services and infrastructure to produce quality finished goods to local and global markets. It is about creating a market large enough to attract investors from across the world to set up their production facilities on the continent,” he said.

FROM DAVID ADADEVOH, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

Show More
Back to top button