May 27, 2024
Cairo Hosts Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 (IATF2023) Business Roadshow to Promote Trade between Egypt and Africa
– By Godswill Odiong

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The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) (https://www.Afreximbank.com/), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the Ministry of Trade & Industry of Egypt hosted a high-level business roadshow, ahead of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2023) scheduled to hold on the 9th to 15th of November 2023 in Cairo, Egypt.

Under the theme “Promoting Egypt-Africa Trade and Investment Under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), ‘IATF2023 Egypt High-Level Business Roadshow’ brought together captains of industry, the business community, high-level government officials, the diplomatic community, as well as executives and senior officials of Afreximbank, AUC and AfCFTA Secretariat to deliberate on how the IATF is playing an instrumental role in boosting and promoting trade and investment opportunities under the AfCFTA between Egypt and the rest of Africa.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman of IATF2023 Advisory Council and Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said “we are here today to demonstrate and reaffirm that the third edition of the IATF will be happening here in this beautiful city of Cairo in November 2023. We urge the business community to take advantage of IATF2023 and use it to explore business opportunities. Opportunities are huge and limitless. IATF2023 is expected to be bigger and better than the previous two editions and the event is expected to attract more than 1,600 exhibitors; over 35,000 visitors, buyers and conference delegates from all 55 African countries, and the rest of the world; with more than US$43 Billion in trade and investment deals.”

Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Afreximbank, said that the IATF was created to fast-track Africa’s economic integration through the AfCFTA. He added that “The biggest challenge on the continent is the lack of trade ad market information of what exists within the continent. This can be traced to the colonial era where Africa was divided into 55 domestic countries that had and continues to have very limited linkages with themselves. It created a situation where somebody in an African country knows more about what is happening in America, Europe and Asia than what is happening in a neighbouring country across the border. One way of dealing with this, is creating a platform like IATF, where Africans can gather to understand their markets, know themselves and understand more about the African countries. Egypt has been a major beneficiary of the IATF. At the first trade fair in 2018, which was held in Cairo, Egypt signed the largest share of deals out of the US$32 billion worth of trade and investment deals closed at the Trade Fair”.

Ambassador Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals regarding the low levels of trade in Africa said “in order to develop intra African trade, we need very efficient and cost-effective road infrastructure, railway, shipping lines, airlines, airports and payment systems and fundamentally we need to produce goods and services that can be traded. Producing and trading in raw materials cannot be the basis for intra-African trade. We need to move towards manufacturing and agro-processing so that these, based on endowments across African countries can be the basis for intra-African trade.”

Principal Communication Adviser, Ms. Grace Khoza representing the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat said “IATF is one platform that we believe creates an avenue through which Africans get to connect and know each other. Africans need to understand what products are produced in different regions of Africa that could be exported to other regions within Africa. Egypt being the second largest economy in Africa stands to benefit from immense opportunities presented by the IATF as an AfCFTA marketplace.

H.E. Yahia El-Wathik, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry for the Arab Republic of Egypt, delivered remarks on behalf of H.E Hon. Eng. Ahmed Samir Minister of Trade and Industry and said: “IATF is becoming a prime event on the trade and economic level all over the African continent since its first edition proudly held in Egypt in 2018 witnessed participation from 1,100 exhibitors with up to US$32 billion in trade and investment deals closed during the trade fair. The Egyptian Government considers African economic development as one of its top priorities. We seek to achieve this through promoting Africa to Africa investment, increasing intra-African trade, developing infrastructure projects and supporting industrialisation plans. Events like this are a true reflection of our strong commitment to materialise economic development which would be given a boost through the full implementation of the AfCFTA which is set to redefine African economic fortunes for the future.”

The deputy minister’s address was followed by a panel session which discussed among other issues, unlocking Egypt’s export potential by leveraging AfCFTA for economic growth and continental integration. The panel session also explored various opportunities that exists under the AfCFTA for Egyptian manufacturers, exporters, investors, creatives and automotive sectors. It also took stock of Egypt’s current trade relations with Africa and discussed some of the challenges and opportunities involved with Egyptian companies operating across the continent. Speakers included, Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab, Vice President, African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM); Mr. Ayman El Zoghby, Acting Director, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank; Mr. Ahmed Sadek El Sewedy, President and Chief Executive Office, El Sewedy Electric; H.E. Yahia El-Wathik, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Mrs. Maii Assal, Chairperson, Egypt Expo and Convention Authority (EECA); and Mr. Ahmed Hanafi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LMTL Group Egypt.

Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, in her remarks at the event said “Today’s roadshow will provide you all, especially the business community with critical information on the IATF, its relevance to Africa’s transformation and integration ambitions and to support the implementation of the AfCFTA. It should serve as a rallying call for the full participation of the Egyptian business community at the IATF2023 in Cairo. I’m hoping that the opportunity will be seized”. Mrs. Awani also highlighted Afreximbank’s support to Egypt’s industrialisation and export development efforts. She said “ Afreximbank has consistently provided support to the Egyptian public and private sector. Since inception Afreximbank has provided financing support to Egypt in excess of US$ 32 billion, with US$ 28 billion coming in the past 5 years alone. Our support to Egypt cuts across major sectors and industries considered strategic to the Government of Egypt and pivotal to the growth and development of the national economy. This support has helped strengthen Financial Institutions, the Energy Sector, Telecommunication, Health and Construction, the private sector, among others.”

The roadshow concluded with a ‘Media Launch’ which featured a high-level panel and Q&A with some of the key personalities behind the IATF. The session featured H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR Chairperson of the IATF2023 Advisory Council and Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank; H.E. Yahia El-Wathik, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry for the Arab Republic of Egypt; H.E. Amb. Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals; and Grace Khoza, Principal Communications Advisor, representing the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat.

The IATF2023 roadshow was a key opportunity for the Egyptian private sector to learn more about the opportunities and benefits of participating in the IATF2023, Africa’s premier trade and investment fair, which will be held between the 9th to 15th of November in Cairo. As Africa’s largest trade and investment fair, the event is not to be missed for importers and exporters looking to take advantage of a single market of 1.3 billion people created by the AfCFTA with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US 3.5 billion dollars.

The resoundingly successful inaugural trade fair held in Cairo, Egypt in 2018 was followed by an even more successful IATF2021 hosted in Durban. Collectively, the two editions of the Trade Fair brought together more than 2,500 exhibitors from 77 countries and generated over US$74 billion in deals, providing a glimpse of the immense potential that exists for intra-African trade. Building on this success, the third edition (IATF2023) holding in Cairo, Egypt, in November 2023, will again provide an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their goods and services, engage in Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G) exchanges, and conclude business deals which will ensure that the momentum toward greater intra-African trade is sustained.

The Roadshow and Media Launch was preceded by the 6th IATF2023 Advisory Council meeting which is chaired by H.E Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Reporting on the readiness of the various components of the event, including the Exhibition, the Conference, the IATF Virtual, the African Automotive Show, the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) programme, AU Youth Start-Up programme, Country Day, Diaspora Day, and Business to Business and Business to Government, the organisers demonstrated an overall satisfactory level of preparation.

To register and be part of IATF2023, interested exhibitors, buyers, trade visitors and delegates are invited to visit www.IntrAfricanTradeFair.com and sign up. Follow our social media to get up-to-date information as well.

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