IATF’s managing director, Ms Kanayo Awani of Afreximbank
The Rwandan capital, Kigali, is readying for the second edition of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, scheduled for the first week of September. There is a palpable air of excitement as the organisers, the Africa Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union, and hosted by the Government of Rwanda, aim to build on the momentum of the inaugural event held in Cairo in 2018.
The achievements of IATF 2018 will be a tough act to follow. It attracted no fewer that 2,500 participants and more than 1,000 exhibitors. Deals worth a staggering $32.6bn were concluded. The IATF2018 Conference, which ran alongside the trade fair, featured 42 sessions with 152 speakers.
Tasked with leading the team of organisers is the IATF’s managing director, Ms Kanayo Awani of Afreximbank. Speaking to the newsletter, she clarified that both the IATF and conference event would be held at the Intare Conference Arena, a modern, integrated complex.
“The Trade Fair has created a sustainable platform for supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The AU Commissioner for Economy, Trade and Industry, Ambassador Albert Muchanga (see interview) credited the Inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair with being the first deliverable of the AfCFTA even before the Agreement entered into force,” she says.
As in Cairo in 2018, the IATF will feature ‘country days’ when individual nations can choose to showcase and promote its trade and investment offerings across all sectors and industries, with a focus on key sectors, investment and project funding opportunities.
Kanayo says that this year there will be a special emphasis on Africa’s creative industries, as well as a focus on the automotive manufacturing sector.
As Professor Benedict Oramah, the Afrexim president, commented: “We’ve shared trade, investment and marketing information, introduced buyers to sellers and investors to investees, signed trade deals and exhibitors showed their goods and services.”
The organisers of IATF 2022 were no doubt inspired by the creative industries’ showcase that Nigeria presented in Cairo featuring a performance by the musician, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, television personality and rapper, Oladapo Oyebanjo, better known as D’banj.
D’banj, who is wildly popular with the younger African demographic, is playing an important role as an ambassador for the IATF. Another figure who is lending his support to the IATF is the Ivorian football star Didier Drogba who, since retiring from the game, was been dedicating much of his time to the Didier Drogba Foundation – a charitable foundation formed in the UK in 2009 when the former captain of the Cote d’Ivoire national team was playing for Chelsea FC. It’s objecyive is to underpin education and healthcare initiatives in Africa.
There will be a dedicated Creative Africa Programme on the fifth and sixth days of the seven-day event.
As Kanayo commented: “The Trade Fair also demonstrated support for SMEs and young entrepreneurs. For example, Mr Ndubisi ‘Arinze’ Eze, the CEO of Aerial Industries Pte. Ltd, who participated in IATF2018 under the Tony Elumelu Foundation sponsorship won contracts to supply drones in Singapore.
“Afreximbank is also working with the AU to have a Youth Start-Up pavilion which will allow carefully selected African youths showcase their innovative business ideas, presenting a platform for incubation and further development.
“We also have the fourth day dedicated to an Investment Forum to showcase and demonstrate the investment potentials as well as opportunities that exist within the continent. “
And there is to be a special focus on the automotive industry. “We ran a successful session on the automotive sector during the Business Forum that was held at the margins of the AU Summit in Niamey, Niger, in July 2019.” Kanayo says. “Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and component suppliers will have an opportunity to exhibit their products and interact with potential buyers and suppliers as well as policy makers. The IATF will also provide a platform to discuss topical issues affecting the automotive industry and we are collaborating with the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers on holding an Auto show, including seminars, during IATF2020.”
Experts from across the continent and beyond will be speaking at the conference, which will bring stakeholders from industry and government agencies together to find solutions to the obstacles hampering regional trade. The conference will also provide a platform for networking and setting up of strategic partnerships.