Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Rwanda to host Intra-African Trade Fair 2020 as it eyes continental market

Workers at Africa Improved Foods factory in Kigali assemble packages for fortified foods. File.

The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018) ended in Egyptian capital, Cairo, Monday with Kigali being announced as the host of the 2020 event – the second edition.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria, who is also the Chairman of the IATF Advisory Council, made the announcement during the closing ceremony, saying that Kigali was selected
following a competitive bidding process that took into account a set of criteria and guidelines outlined for IATF hosts.
Sheikh Saleh Habimana, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Egypt, said that the selection of Kigali was an honour and privilege for Rwanda, noting that it was coming after the historic signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) in that city in March.
“The people and Government of Rwanda will ensure that IATF2020 is a stepping stone to assist in intra-African trade. Rwanda will do its best,” he said.
This year’s event in Cairo attracted 100 exhibitors from across Africa and beyond.
It was organised by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) together with the African Union Commission and the Government of Egypt.
According to organisers, the seven-day trade fair provides a platform for sharing trade, investment and market information and enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals.
Organisers also highlighted that the inaugural IATF had been a resounding success with visitor numbers and business deals signed exceeding initial targets.
Afreximbank said it sealed trade deals worth $27 billion, well beyond the bank’s target of $25 billion.
The financial support will go to development projects in Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
The fair is among other mega events and conferences that Rwanda will host in 2020.
The country will also host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting the same year.
The inaugural event featured the African Union Trade Ministers Conference, which convened about 30 trade ministers and representatives from across Africa.
At this year’s Fair, discussions about AfCFTA took centre stage.
Obasanjo described the AfCFTA as a robust framework that will enhance intra-African trade and remove trade barriers, adding, “This trade fair will also play a huge role in establishing contacts and driving trade development”.
Economic Commission for Africa modelling exercises indicate that AfCFTA established in 2017 has the potential to lift intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent from 2010 to 2022.
In terms of intra African trade, different studies put Africa at about 15 per cent, compared to Europe (68 per cent), North America (37 per cent), and Latin America (20 per cent).

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