The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has identified intra-African trade as a critical factor for unlocking Africa’s trade potential.
Managing Director of the Bank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, Ms. Kanayo Awani, says a lack of access to trade and market information is one of the key reasons for the low level of intra-African trade.
“Although the share of intra-African trade as a percentage of total African trade has increased from 10% in 1995 to around 15% currently, it remains low compared to the levels in Europe (59%), Asia (51%), and North America (37%)”.
“Historically, African countries are more familiar with markets in Europe and America than they are with those in neighbouring countries, resulting in the all too common phenomenon of manufacturers sourcing materials from outside the continent when they could access the same materials more cheaply from within”.
The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair 2018 is a key intervention aimed at boosting regional trade in Africa and will be the biggest gathering of buyers and sellers on the continent, with 1,000 exhibitors and more than 70,000 visitors expected. One of the key objectives of the IATF is to provide a platform for exchange of trade information. To facilitate this, a Trade Finance Conference will run parallel to the trade fair. 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.
The IATF is, essentially, a gateway into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which heralds what will be the biggest free trade area in the world. The first ever Intra-African Trade Fair, will provide direct access to the lucrative market created by the AfCFTA, which boasts over 1 billion people and a combined GDP of over US $3.4 trillion, making it an unprecedented platform for businesses to grow their interests exponentially into Africa. The trade fair will also provide opportunity for the presentation of bankable proposals for funding, and access to US$25 billion in trade finance for deals concluded at the event. Business-to-Business Exchanges will also be facilitated at the trade fair. According to Ms. Awani, Afreximbank is working actively with the African Union(AU) to implement the AfCFTA.
The IATF 2018 is being organized by Afreximbank in partnership with the AU and will be hosted by the Egypt’s Export Development Authority. Themed “Intra-African Trade for a Transformative Africa”, the IATF will take place from 11 to 17 December 2018 at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre in Cairo.