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Trade will accelerate Africa integration, says Obasanjo

Felix Oloyede

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Trade will accelerate Africa integration, says Obasanjo

Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo has stated that the Intra-African Trade Fair provides an opportunity for countries on the African continent to build bridges across borders, for economic recovery.

Obasanjo made the declaration in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair, held in Durban, South Africa.

He said: “The Intra African Trade Fair is an important component in righting the wrongs of the past and breaking down borders. It is aimed at building bridges to help us achieve the ambitions of agenda 2063-the Africa we want.

“In the context of post-COVID-19, the Africa continental free trade area probably has an even more important role as the framework for African economic recovery. I agree that implementing the Africa continental free trade area is the bell stimulus for building forward better post-pandemic economies.

“Excellences distinguished guests despite the disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, the momentum created the first intra-Africa trade on the launch of African continental free trade area to drive intra-African trade and integration needs to be sustained.”

The former Nigerian leader said the first trade fair held in Egypt a few years back provided an opportunity for Africa to show the world that potentials abound in Africa.

“The inaugural intra-Africa trade fair in Cairo in 2018 provided a glimpse of the immense potential that exists for intra-African trade and investments. This trade fair clearly illustrates the determination and resilience of the African spirit, despite this spectre of COVID-19, it is gratifying that today, we are gathered here for this opening ceremony to what promises to be a very successful trade fair.

“Building on the success of the inaugural Intra African Trade Fair, this second edition of the trade fair will ensure that the efforts aimed at growing intra-African trade are sustained. It is within this in mind that the theme for intra-African trade for 2021 is “building bridges for a successful Africa continental free trade area.”

He also noted that this year’s trade fair would give ample opportunity for investors to do business with moguls from all parts of Africa.

“Intra African Trade Fair 2021 will again provide an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their goods and services, engage in business exchanges and conclude business deals.

“It is a seven-day trade show that provides a platform for sharing trade, investment and market information and enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals.

“IATF 2021 will also feature a world-leading trade and investment forum that will provide the platform to discuss the opportunities arising from the operationalizing and implementation of the Africa continental free trade area. It will also discuss critical issues that affect African trade, ranging from climate and border environmental issues to important new technologies, geopolitical tensions, and so on. Uniquely, this edition of the trade fair also comes with all the important events, namely creative African nexus, a platform for showcasing Africa’s creative talents. An example of that we have seen with Dike Chukwumereje,” he said.

Obasanjo, who is the Chairman, Advisory Council of the IATF, announced that over 10, 000 visitors and 1000 investors, as he highlighted the potentials of the trade fair.

He said: “An automotive show co-created with the Association of African Automotive Manufacturers as well as the youth pavilion, under which youth startups will be exposed to potential investors or markets. Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this week, we expect over 1000 exhibitors and over 10,000 visitors.

“We also expect deals of over $40 billion to be closed. There are also several businesses marking our business matchmaking opportunities, we expect the SMEs present to take advantage of them. On behalf of the Advisory Council, I thank once again President Ramaphosa and the South-African government for their visionary and great decision to host IATF 2021.

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