Wide-ranging discussions on trade and investment dominate on day five of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 (IATF2023)
IATF2023 attendees were also treated to a panel discussion on ‘The role of the AfCFTA in Accelerating the Implementation of African Development Agenda 2063’

CAIRO, Egypt, November 14, 2023/ — Attendees continued to hear wide-ranging discussions and comments on trade and investment issues on the fifth day of the third Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 (IATF2023) in Cairo yesterday. Egypt and Barbados celebrated Country Days by hosting investment forums.

In a discussion at the Egypt investment forum, speakers highlighted opportunities for greater trade between Egypt and other parts of Africa. Dr. Sherif El Gabaly, Head of the African Affairs Committee, Egyptian Parliament, underscored lessons that Egypt could share in terms of strengthening agricultural self-sufficiency. Other Egyptian business leaders shared insights from their work in the healthcare, automotive, construction and e-commerce sectors.

Sherine Helmy, CEO of Pharco Pharmaceuticals, shared insights on significantly reducing the cost of hepatitis treatment in Egypt to $60 per person. He highlighted the importance of political will and commitment in enabling collaboration to achieve that success. Abdelatif Olama, CEO of Jumia Egypt, talked about the company’s strong brand awareness across Africa, saying, “We thrive because we are African. We benefit from growing in a big and growing population, from the growing urbanisation that happens from a growing middle class.”

Also speaking, Mohamed Taher, Senior Business Development Manager at Hassan Allam Construction, outlined ongoing construction projects by his company and invited potential partners to collaborate. Another speaker, Marc Soueha, talked about manufacturing commercial vehicles and gave described the unique aspects of the African commercial vehicle market.

At the Barbados investment forum, the Barbados delegation said that there were opportunities for Barbados and Africa to collaborate, highlighting the stability of the country’s economy. Kaye-Anne Greenidge, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados, said that there was a tremendous potential for growth in sectors which contribute to the country’s gross domestic product and pointed to investment opportunities for Africa in areas such as tourism, agro-processing and the green economy.

Dr. Kevin Greenidge, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, said that, from an investor’s perspective, Barbados had “good buffers” with its foreign reserves and that the country had low unemployment rate.

Carol Roberts-Reifer, Executive Officer of the Barbados’ National Cultural Foundation, discussed the country’s creative industries while Phil Phillips, the Commercial and Cultural Attaché, at the Barbados High Commission in Accra, announced plans to introduce Barbadian goods to some African markets in the coming weeks.

IATF2023 attendees were also treated to a panel discussion on ‘The role of the AfCFTA in Accelerating the Implementation of African Development Agenda 2063’. The panellists said that political will was a crucial factor for success. Yahya Al-Wathiq-Bellah, Head of the Egyptian Commercial Representation Service, emphasised the importance of political will throughout the entire structure and Nardos Bekele Thomas, CEO of the African Union Development Agency- NEPAD, said that a conducive environment and willingness of governments to honour their commitments were crucial.

Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said that financiers played a crucial role in protecting the African continent from the adverse effects of supply chain disruptions. Ms. Awani argued that there was need to “reverse engineer” colonial trade routes, which were established without consideration for the African population. “We support that with financing but it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

Responding to the panellists, Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, announced some upcoming projects aimed at ensuring harmonisation of regulations, including a ‘Made in Africa’ strategy. He also stressed the need to include the private sector in state-level negotiations, adding, “A time should come when our governments must say the private sector will be informed about the outcome of negotiations.”

IATF2023, Africa’s largest trade and investment fair started on November 9 and runs until November 15. It is expected to attract over 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors, with trade and investment deals worth US$43 billion projected to be concluded during the event.