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Intra-African Trade Fair to drive Continent’s Development of Export Manufacturing

Dates: 
December 11, 2018

Intra-African Trade Fair to drive Continent’s Development of Export Manufacturing

Cairo, Egypt - 11 December 2018: The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission, and the Government of Egypt, hosted the official opening ceremony for the IATF 2018 taking place from the 11 – 17 December 2018. The ceremony took place at Al Manara International Conferences Centre (AMICC) in the city of Cairo, Egypt.

Addressing the delegates at the ceremony were Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former Nigerian President and IATF Advisory Council Chairman, H.E Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for the Department of Trade and Industry and H.E. Mostafa Madbouly, Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The fair comes after the successful signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in March 2018, which seeks to enhance trade and economic growth across Africa. Giving the opening address, H.E. Obasanjo stated his conviction that the IATF would contribute immensely to the implementation of the AfCFTA. He said the that trade fair is a crucial instrument in making the AfCFTA work, adding that Africa needs to focus on what trade is needed, where the markets are, the size of, and the standards in those markets, and how to join the value chains that serve them.

“The African Continental Free Trade Agreement and events such as this Intra-African Trade Fair enthuse me about the prospects for Africa, and the opportunities to raise Africa’s bar to global competitiveness, which will be kick-started by intra-African free trade,” he said. “It is our duty to create the environment where the entrepreneurial spirit of Africans can succeed. Stronger economies yield the rewards of better health, education, improved employment opportunities and prosperity for all. I want our future generations to have greater expectations, greater choices and greater opportunities to succeed. It should be their right and I want this to become the norm rather than the exception.

He thanked Afreximbank and the AU for their foresight, initiative and hard work in promoting, organizing and opening the trade fair, from its announcement in Kigali in March 2018, to its implementation today.
Addressing the delegates, Prof Oramah said that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement had sent a strong message to the world that Africa is ready to chart a new path, a path to economic independence and a willingness to look inward for industrial growth. “We need to implement initiatives that will add meaning to that singular event, initiatives that will catalyse a strong production/industrial base for production of export manufacturing, initiatives that will improve our knowledge of, and access to, trade and investment information and initiatives that will facilitate movement of goods across borders in competitive terms,” he said.

Citing the role Afreximbank is playing to promote the emergence of robust continental supply chains, Prof Oramah suggested that networking opportunities at the IATF will lead to a; “potent force to begin to dismantle the well laid colonial structures that have disintegrated Africa for close to a century.”

In his statement, H.E. Amb. Albert M. Muchanga congratulated the Government and people of Egypt for hosting the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair and expressed the importance of the IATF in bringing about economic transformation on the continent and called on all African Union Member States to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and make a single African market of over 1 billion people – a reality. ‘’If we are to create one African market, in line with the vision of the African continental free trade area, all African Union Member States must sign and ratify the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. In this way, its landscape will be fully integrated. I am glad that the African Union Ministers responsible trade are here. I am sure they will do the needful and take us closer to realizing the vision of the African Union and Agenda 2063 which is: ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the global arena’, he emphasized.

He urged the six AU Member States which have not signed the AfCFTA Agreement yet, to do so and called on countries that have signed to proceed forward with the ratification. Commissioner Muchanga expressed his confidence that by February 2019, the 22 ratifications needed for the Agreement to enter into force will be granted.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, H.E Mustafa Madbouly, voiced the Egyptian Government’s pleasure at hosting the IATF. “The free trade zone is a great achievement for African integration and the number of participants in IATF 2018 is an indication of the necessity of this type of intervention”, he said. He applauded the IATF for working with African entrepreneurs, to build African wealth.

The opening ceremony was concluded with the official inauguration of the IATF Exhibition Centre with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by H.E Obasanjo.

Media Contact

Afreximbank:
Obi Emekekwue; Director of Communication; E: mail; oemekekwue@afreximbank.com; Tel. +202-2456-4238

African Union Commission:

Molalet Tsedeke; Directorate of Information and Communication; E-mail-Molalett@africa-union.org; Tel: 01029225889
Patient Atcho; Department of Trade and Industry; E-mail: atchop@africa-union.org; Tel. 01221960886