Organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), IATF2023 is more than just an exhibition of goods and services - it's a platform for networking, collaboration and knowledge-sharing, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and policy-makers from across Africa and its diaspora to exchange ideas, forge partnerships and explore new opportunities.
The IATF is becoming part of the implementation of the African Free Trade Area (AFTA) to accelerate trade and economic exchanges between African countries, currently at around 16%.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) took part in the fair, helping young entrepreneurs from various African countries in the agro-processing sector to exhibit their products to the thousands of visitors.
A panel shared by Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, and Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), provided information on the opportunities of Single Trade in Africa.Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), presented the findings of the new report on informal cross-border trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)."Inter-country trade flows within the ECOWAS space are not recorded. A database of this flow is needed to enable decision-makers to make the right trade policy decisions. The report indicates that trade in West Africa is generally driven by women. This results in 03 main factors in the flow, namely culture, means of financing and cash payment.
It's a question of finding a solution that will add value and facilitate trade. This is why, at the fair, support is provided to companies and capacity building to train SMEs to take advantage of the ZLECAF. It should be noted that several programs are being implemented to strengthen trade, such as the production of knowledge, the study and recording of data on non-customs and tariff barriers, using the Abidjan-Lagos corridor as a concrete example.Financial institutions such as the African Development Bank and Trade Mark, which implement on the ground the measures and recommendations produced by our office", explained Stephen Karingi.
According to Stephen Karingi, the promise of the FTAA is to unite African economies and create a single market for 1.5 billion people in Africa to promote African trade."This requires political will on the part of member states.It is up to heads of government and political decision-makers to foster an environment conducive to trade by eliminating and harmonizing regulations and investing in the necessary infrastructure", he stressed.
IATF2023 attracted some 75 participating countries, 1,600 trade exhibitors, entrepreneurs, investors, financiers and 35,000 buyers and visitors.
The objectives of the intra-African trade fair are:Bring together continental and global players to present and exhibit their goods and services, explore business and investment opportunities in Africa; Serve as a marketplace where buyers and sellers of goods and services meet and explore business opportunities.Provide a platform for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) exchanges, matchmaking and the development of business and investment opportunities.Share trade, investment and market information with various stakeholders, including investors, SMEs, the informal sector, Africans in the diaspora, and identify solutions to the challenges affecting intra-African trade.