The 2023 Inter-African Trade Fair (IATF), which is meant to promote trade and investment in Africa, has been scheduled to hold in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire.
An initiative of Afreximbank, the programme would be organised in collaboration with the African Union and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and hosted by the government of Cote d’Ivoire.
The third in the series, it is expected to generate billions of dollars of trade investment and deals and attended by thousands of visitors and exhibitors.
Speaking at the launch in Accra on Friday, the chairman of the Governing Council of IATF, Olusegun Obasanjo, said the registration of the 2023 IATF was opened.
He said the IATF was to promote trade, jobs in Africa to promote the growth of the continent.
“The IATF is aimed at righting the wrongs of the past and bridge borders in line with the African Union Agenda 2063,” Obasanjo said.
He encouraged exhibitors and organisations to register for the IATF 2023.
The former Nigerian President said the 2021 IATF held in November last year in Durban in South Africa, was more than a trade fair.
“The IATF 2021 was a powerful transformative socio-economic event that fostered trade and investments,” he said.
The former Nigerian President said the event was attended by more than 15 heads of states and thousands of participants and exhibitors.
“IATF 2021 provided platform for trade and investment worth more than $42 billion, ” he said.
He said the event turned out to be resoundingly successful and surpassed the expectation of the organisers.
“IATF 2021 epitomised whatever can be achieved in changing the socio-economic development of Africa,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to all who supported the programme to make it a success, particularly Professor Benedict Oramah, the President of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank Bank, the brain behind IATF 2021and Secretary-General of the AFCFTA, the torchbearer of the event, and the government and people of South Africa for hosting the programme.
The President of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah, outlining the criteria for the selection of a country for the programme, said hosting the event was opened to all African Union member countries.
He said countries decided to host on their own volition, saying “A country must demonstrate capacity to host the conference.”
Prof.Oramah said the IATF Governing Council also considered security, air traffic capacity of a country and its road and rail networks.
He entreated Foundations around the globe to support and fund Small and Medium-scale Enterprises to attend the fair.
Prof. Oramah said participation fee was waived for SMEs that attended the 2021 IATF.
The Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, said AfCFTA was an instrument to promote trade on the continent.
He said so far 39 countries were State parties to the AfCFTA agreement.
Mr Mene said the AfCFTA Secretariat and Afreximbank Bank were working to address the border and customs challenges to boost and facilitate trade on the continent.
He encouraged businesses and organisations to take advantage of the fair to expose their business to huge African market and get new business partners.
He pledged his country would work hard to host a successful conference.
The key components of the 2023 IATF would include trade exhibition, business to business, business to government and business to company interactions, country days, African Union Youth Start-Up, and Africa Automotive show.
The first IATF was held in 2018 in Egypt.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE