Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative at the African Export-Import Bank says Intra-African trade critical in unlocking Africa’s trade potential
Africa Industry

‘Intra-African Trade Critical in Unlocking Africa’s Trade Potential’

The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) due to take place in Cairo from 11 to 17 December is a key intervention aimed at addressing the current low levels of regional trade in Africa, Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has said.

Awani, who was speaking in Bali, Indonesia, on October 9 during the 2018 Annual Combined Forum of the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Initiative (MEFMI), said that Afreximbank had identified intra-African trade as a critical factor in unlocking Africa’s trade potential.

She told the Forum that this was the thinking behind the first-of -its-kind Trade Fair which was being convened by Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union and other partners.

Awani said that Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Strategy rested on three pillars – Create, Connect, Deliver – which were the impetus behind the IATF.

Create: supports the production of goods and services that can enter regional trade. It seeks to build capacity for the expansion of production and processing capabilities, with a focus on agricultural production, agro-processing, manufacturing and services.

Connect: seeks to provide a business-driven link to market. Afreximbank will identify institutions and agents that are able to “connect the dots” in the intra-African trade value chain and facilitate the connection of demand and supply across markets.

Deliver: focuses on facilitating the provision of efficient and cost-effective distribution channels within the continent. This includes the creation of transport logistics, storage and services payment systems, in addition to buyer-financing arrangements, which will help to accelerate the flow of goods and services to buyers, thereby creating a market.

 1,000 exhibitors for the fair

The IATF 2018 aims to bring together all the 55 member states of the African Union under one roof, something which is unprecedented on the continent she said.

“We are expecting to host 1,000 exhibitors, who will have access to a platform to showcase their goods and services to the 70,000 visitors we anticipate will attend the event, which includes buyers and sellers.”

She said that the IATF considered the SME sector to be vital to economic development in Africa, adding, “We hope to see wide representation from this sector at the trade fair.”

The seven-day trade fair will provide opportunities for business-to-business exchanges, and access to $25 billion in trade finance for deals concluded at the event. A conference will run alongside the exhibition featuring discussions and dialogues pertaining to the different trade topics.

The IATF, being organized by Afreximbank in collaboration with the African Union, and hosted by the Government of Egypt, is the first trade fair of its kind in Africa. Other institutions partnering in the fair are Africa Trade Policy Centre, Afrochampions Initiative; International Trade Centre; and Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Annual Combined Forum, which was co-hosted by Afreximbank and MEFMI, had the theme, “Leveraging Africa’s Financial Resources” and focused on intra-African trade, African resource mobilisation and yield trends and implications for sovereign liabilities as the main discussion topics.

Also speaking at the event from Afreximbank were Denys Denya, Executive Vice President, Finance, Administration and Banking Services; Maureen Mba, Associate Director, Compliance; and Chandi Mwenebungu, Treasurer. Other speakers included Michael Atingi-Ego, Executive Director, MEFMI; Antoon Antoon de Klerk, Portfolio Manager, Investec Asset Management; and Dr Adelaide Matlanyane, Governor, Central Bank of Lesotho.

Attendees included ministers of finance and planning, secretaries to treasury/permanent secretaries of finance and planning, central bank governors from MEFMI member states and technical partners.