The third Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023) kicked off in Cairo on Thursday with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria and chairman of the IATF2023 Advisory Council, saying that intra-African trade holds the key to unlocking Africa’s true potential and fuelling economic growth, fostering industrialisation and creating job opportunities for Africans.
Addressing participants at the trade fair, Chief Obasanjo noted that beyond being just an exhibition of goods and services, IATF2023 was a platform for networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing and was bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and policymakers from across Africa and its Diaspora to exchange ideas, forge partnerships and explore new opportunities.
“It is through this spirit of cooperation and collaboration that we will unlock the untapped potential of our continent,” he said, adding that the trade fair signified the commitment of Africa and its diaspora nations to economic integration and to their collective determination to create a prosperous future.
Former President Obasanjo called on African government leaders, policy makers, and representatives to foster an environment conducive to trade by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, harmonising regulations and investing in necessary infrastructure.
IATF2023 is a stepping stone towards a future where African nations traded freely, breaking down barriers and opening doors of opportunities for all, he added.
Entrepreneurs, Innovators to Seize the Moment
Obasanjo urged entrepreneurs and innovators to seize the moment to build bridges of commerce between nations and within communities by embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship and leveraging technology to unlock new markets, connect small-scale farmers with global partners and empower women-owned businesses.
Earlier, Ahmed Samir Saleh, Minister of Trade and industry of Egypt, had welcomed guests to the trade fair and expressed Egypt’s happiness at hosting the event.
The ceremony also featured the projection of a hologram of Kwame Nkrumah, the former President of Ghana who was a key proponent of a united Africa.
IATF2023 is Africa’s largest trade and investment fair projected to attract over 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors and buyers. Trade and investment deals valued at US$43 billion are expected to be concluded during the trade fair seen as a must attend event for everyone interested in trade and investments in Africa’s single market of 1.4 billion people created by the AfCFTA which has a combined gross domestic product of over US$3.5 trillion.
Attendees include buyers, sellers, importers, exporters, investors, manufacturers, captains of industry, senior government ministers, trade finance and advisory specialists, trade and economic organisations, senior executives from corporates and multinationals and innovative entrepreneurs from across Africa and beyond.
IATF2023 brings together business leaders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to explore opportunities for cross-border trade. The event showcases a wide array of products and services from various sectors, ranging from agriculture and manufacturing to technology and services. This fosters a deeper understanding of each country’s economic strengths and encourages mutually beneficial partnerships.
The trade fair serves as a hub for networking, allowing participants to engage in meaningful discussions, share insights, and establish connections that can lead to long-term collaborations. Furthermore, it provides a platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to gain exposure, fostering inclusivity in economic growth.
One of the key objectives of IATF2023 is to address trade barriers and create a more conducive environment for intra-Africa trade. Through panel discussions, workshops, and policy forums, participants work towards identifying challenges and proposing solutions that can enhance the ease of doing business within the continent.
As technology continues to play a significant role in shaping the future of trade, IATF2023 also emphasizes the importance of digital transformation. Discussions center around leveraging technology to streamline processes, improve logistics, and enhance the overall efficiency of intra-Africa trade.
The third Intra-African Trade Fair also serves as a dynamic platform driving economic integration, fostering collaboration, and paving the way for a more interconnected and prosperous African continent.