CONRAD ONYANGO, BIRD
THE African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat – organizers of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 taking place in Durban South Africa – project the 7-day event will facilitate more than 40 billion US dollars in trade and investment deals as the continent begins promoting itself as a single market, investment-friendly destination.
“The countries of Africa are open for business,” announced South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in his keynote speech to officiate the opening of the trade fair.
South Africa – the event’s host country – is set to be the biggest immediate beneficiary, with nearly 8,000 delegates and 1,000 exhibitors from 95 countries, including 52 African countries, providing a boost to its tourism industry.
Africa’s automotive sector has been touted as a major pillar of the trade fair, signalling the stimulation of local new car production across the continent. Show coordinator for the automotive sector, Andrew Binning, said the automotive forum will include a round-table event attended by heads of state from countries considering automotive industrialisation.
Ghana, Rwanda, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa have been listed among countries that booked a slot at that forum, to be hosted by Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The Forum has attracted Heads of State, industry executives and African industrialists around this agenda, but the wider exhibition, match-making and networking opportunities will connect suppliers of raw materials, vehicles, automotive parts and aftermarket services and technology with buyers across Africa,’’ Binning said in a statement.
The African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) sees the development of regional value chains driving new vehicle sales from 1 million to 5 million units a year across Africa.
“The Automotive Forum will connect this range of important role players and pave the path to an African automotive manufacturing supply chain that can optimise the new African Free Trade Agreement,’’ said AAAM Executive Director Dave Coffey.
While South Africa is responsible for 85 percent of all new cars sales in Africa, research firm Modor Intelligence projects West and North African countries will drive growth until 2023 with Morocco and Ghana expected to be key players.
The fair will also be used to unlock the huge untapped potential of the continent’s creative industry. with the film and audiovisual sector in Africa looking to build annual revenue to 20 billion US dollars in annual revenue, from 5 billion now, according to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI).
“It is by harnessing all our capabilities, both existing and emerging that we will accelerate our continent’s economic growth and integrated development,” said Ramaphosa.
Intra-Africa trade accounted for just 15 per cent of Africa’s total trade in 2019 according to the Trade Law Center (Tralac), signalling a huge opportunity for investors as the continent moves to a single trading block environment and ramps up connecting infrastructure.