High hopes as Intra-Africa Trade Fair expected to boost local revenues
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Durban - There have been high hopes placed on the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF), an exhibition taking place in November this year, with intentions of bolstering the revenue made and kept on the African continent.
This is according to the delegation of African leaders present at the signing ceremony for the IATF, at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday.
The delegation included members from the KZN provincial government, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, president of the Afreximbank Professor Benedict Oramah, Commissioner of the AU for Economic Development, Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga and secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Wamkele Mene.
A panel discussion also took place after the signing, with a focus on promoting the country under the AfCFTA, post Covid-19. AfCFTA is the largest in terms of number of countries participating, comprising 54 of the 55 AU nations.
South Africa was initially supposed to host the fair in 2023, but 2021 host Rwanda, encountered complications, which pushed the country further up the line to host, according to KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay.
The province will host the fair for seven days, from November 15 to 21, and is expected to create more than a thousand jobs as a result of it.
Pillay said that the fair and AfCFTA is hoping to put money back in the continent, as around 16-20% of the revenue generated is kept on the continent, while the remaining 80-84% leaves.
According to a report from the previous trade fair, held in 2018, the event attracted more than a thousand exhibitions, from 45 countries – with deals closed valued at $32 billion, according to KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala.
It is the biggest trade fair on the continent and the 2021 version is expected to generate around $40 billion (about R580bn) in trade and investment deals.
Zikalala said that the event fell at the right time for the province, which underwent severe financial stress, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent unrest in July.
“This is a welcome shot in the arm for KwaZulu-Natal, as we embark on resetting and growing our economy, under the economic reconstruction and transformation plan. As of January 31, 2021, an amount of about US$ 27 billion has been implemented or is under implementation.
Afreximbank’s president Oramah said that the IATF was vital to reverse engineer colonial traits that have kept the African continent down for decades.
“The colonial strategy divided us. The trade fair is about breaking down borders and building bridges,” Oramah said.