African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) has called on federal and state governments, and the private sector to foster the participation of the Nigerian business community in the 2023 Intra-African Trade Fair(IATF2023).
Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, AFREXIMBANK, made the call at the Nigeria IATF High Level Business Roadshow on Monday in Lagos.
BRANDPOWER reports that IATF2023, scheduled for Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, in Egypt, is organised by AFREXIM, African Union Commission and the Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
The event is a platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over 3.5 trillion dollars created under the AfCFTA.
BRANDPOWER also reports that the event will comprise trade exhibition, trade and investment forum, across many sectors of the African economy.
They include agriculture and agro-processing, clothing and textiles, creative industries, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, tourism, construction, education, mining, technology, transport and many more.
Awani said that event provided the opportunity for Nigerian businesses to access an integrated African market, expand their businesses and promote Intra-African trade, providing real gains for the continent.
She said that the roadshow would provide critical information on the IATF, its relevance to Africa’s transformation and integration ambitions.
According to her, it will also provide opportunities for Nigerian businesses to expand their footprint across the continent.
“Recent global events such as COVID-19 have exposed Africa’s continued exposure and vulnerability to the dictates of external partners.
“Perhaps the key demonstration of ensuring that we take our collective destiny into our own hands is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“The AfCFTA is a clear signal of the political will and desire to reverse the trend of external reliance and commodity dependence and to ensure that as a continent we take our economic destiny into our own hands.
“It is for the success of the AfCFTA that the IATF and several other initiatives have been developed,” she said.
Awani, however, noted that the biggest constraints confronting intra-African trade was the issue of information asymmetry.
According to her, there was unawareness of the trade and investment opportunities that exist among each other, yet we are more aware of those that exist outside the continent.
She said that to overcome this dearth of trade and market information and support the implementation of the AfCFTA, AFREXIM and other strategic partners launched the Intra-African Trade Fair in 2018.
She noted that the IATF had now emerged as the premier trade and investment event in Africa and the biggest platform for African public and private sector interactions in one gathering.
“The African Union Summit in 2023 approved the theme for the year “Acceleration of the Implementation of the AfCFTA.”
“Building on this success of the two previous editions, IATF2023 promises to be even bigger and better and will again provide an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their goods and services, engage in Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G) exchanges, and conclude business deals.
“We anticipate that IATF will generate intra-African trade and investment deals worth over $43 billion.
“Preparations and mobilisation effort for IATF2023 are on course and we are poised to attract more than 1,600 exhibitors from over 75 countries.
“We also expect over 35,000 participants from all African countries and rest of the world, including the diaspora,” she said.
Dr Ezra Yakusak, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said the IATF served as a critical platform to shore up Intra-African trade from 18 per cent to a more reasonable level.
Yakusak noted that participants at previous IATFs forged alliances and increased Nigeria’s export performance by several millions of dollars.
He said the NEPC, in collaboration with many associations such as Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and others, were committed to providing trainings.
This, he said, would improve quality, drive value addition, certifications of Nigerian goods and services at the IATF.
Expectations of Nigeria is high and must take advantage of the platform to showcase agric, fashion, manufacturing, and other sectors to attract trade into the country.
“There’s however the need for massive awareness, sensitisation to enable more participation at the fair,” he said.