By Henry Uche
The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2023) is expected to generate intra-African trade and investment deals worth over $43 billion in manufacturing, automotive, health / Pharmaceuticals, tourism, construction, infrastructure, creative/ intellectual property industry, engineering, energy and power, among other sectors.
The Executive Vice President, business & corporate development, of Intra – African Trade Bank, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, made this known yesterday in Lagos ahead the third IATF 2023 billed for Cairo Egypt.- The AfCFTA Marketplace, is taking place in Arab Republic of Egypt from 9 to November 15, this year.
Put together by African Export -Import Bank (Afrexmbank) in collaboration with African Union Commission and AfCFTA Secretariat, the fair which aims to facilitate ease of movement of goods and services across Africa is expected to have over 1600 exhibitors, 35000 visitors, 75 exhibiting countries with Business to Business and business to Government sessions, all are geared to ensure healthy collaboration and competition to achieve the objectives of AfCFTA.
Awani, said African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) has concluded plans to double its financing efforts to increase intra-African trade to $40 billion on a revolving basis by 2026, up from $20 billion in 2021, and it’s currently working with AfCFTA Secretariat to put in place the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund to facilitate and provide technical assistance, grant and compensation to state parties and private enterprises to effectively participate in the AfCFTA.
According to her, AfCFTA has been signed by 54 of the 55 AU member states and ratified by 47 African State parties.
Meanwhile, the board of Afreximbank has approved $1bn to support the funding of the initiative and another $10 million grant to facilitate the establishment and operationalisation of the adjustment fund.
The finance expert affirmed that although AfCFTA is expected to serve as the bedrock for deeper economic emancipation and integration, it would pave the way for increased investment in productive sectors, enhance trade linkages between African member states and drive the structural transformation of Africa.
Awani maintained that if Africa must move forward in the global economy, it must stop its reliance and dependency on foreign countries, thus Nigeria and Africa must take advantage of the fair.
She charged Nigeria government and Africa at large to create enabling platforms for businesses and investor to connect business opportunities, and disencumber MSMEs from every bottlenecks locally, if the region must thrive through AfCFTA.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to see that African products are competitive in the global market. We’re Harmonizing standards in the region for competitiveness. We are providing soft and hard infrastructure, we’re taking the roadshow across the continent and we’re optimistic to meet our goals. We have different platforms deployed to promote intra- African trade”
Similarly, the Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Ezra Yakusak, assured that the Council has been taking pragmatic steps in this regard by preparing its human resources to explore AfCFTA in building human capacities and other progressive efforts ahead inevitable challenges.
Yakusak enjoined other relevant government agencies to do their bids purposefully to give Nigerian businesses an edge over as Nigerians untapped potentialities could be harnessed for its economic development. “We’re building capacity, and I urged other government agencies to do their best to explore this opportunities,” he implored.