The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) organised the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018) in Cairo from December 11-17. The IATF is hosted by Egypt, through the Export Development Authority (EDA), and organised in collaboration with the African Union and several other partners.
The IATF 2018 is the first of its kind in Africa, consisting of a 7-day trade fair which provides a platform to share trade, investment, and market information, thereby enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, as well as to discuss and conclude business deals.
According to Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative, “Our expenditures in Africa are about US$ 10 billion in diverse sectors to support the private sector, trade and industrialisation in the continent. We are working on a five-year strategy from 2017-2022 which is called ‘Africa transformed’ as we focus on developing industry and agriculture and transforming Africa.”
Afreximbank is further supporting these efforts through various developmental funds in the region. Says Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President,Afreximbank, “One of the important things we do is develop industrial parks in Africa, where we look at what these countries have in terms of comparative advantage in manufacturing.”
While we know that Africa is a potential manufacturing and consumption hub, economic and trade information is limited. Says Awani, “In light of our strategy for 2021 ‘Transforming Africa’, we are working on promoting intra-African trade. What’s more, we want to increase intra-African trade for it to become more than its current percentage, which is about 15-17%, meaning that about 85% comes from the rest of the world.
Therefore, we want to give special attention to industrialisation because substantial African commodities come from outside Africa. Over and above, we work as much as possible to deal with intra-African challenges. We realised that limited information about Africans is one of the main challenges which hinder trade especially regarding information related to what they purchase and which markets sell. For example, Egyptians do not understand African markets, so what we want to do is to shape the market, which is why we are supporting the launch of the African market. Nevertheless, we need to deal with limited information concerning the market, which is the first reason behind holding the IATF. The second reason in bringing together buyers and sellers of goods and services is to showcase African investment opportunities.”
A market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$ 2 trillion, reveals the potential of the African market.