By Vivian Ihechu
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President of Nigeria and Chairman of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023) Advisory Council, says the untapped potential of African continent will be unlocked through cooperation and collaboration.
Obasanjo made the assertion at the IATF2023, a hybrid event, holding in Cairo, Egypt monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He added that intra-African trade would foster industrialisation and create job opportunities for the people of the continent.
Obasanjo said beyond being just an exhibition of goods and services, the IATF2023 was a platform for networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“It is bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and policymakers from across Africa and its Diaspora to exchange ideas, forge partnerships and explore new opportunities.
“It is through this spirit of cooperation and collaboration that we will unlock the untapped potential of our continent.
“The trade fair signified the commitment of Africa and its Diaspora nations to economic integration and to their collective determination to create a prosperous future.”
Obasanjo called on African leaders, policy makers, and representatives to foster an environment conducive to trade by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, harmonising regulations and investing in necessary infrastructure.
He said the IATF2023 was a stepping stone towards a future where African nations traded freely, breaking down barriers and opening doors of opportunities for all.
Obasanjo urged entrepreneurs and innovators to seize the moment to build bridges of commerce between nations and within communities by embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship to unlock new markets.
He also enjoined them to leverage technology to unlock new markets, connect small-scale farmers with global partners and empower women-owned businesses.
IATF2023 is Africa’s largest trade and investment fair projected to attract over 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors and buyers.
The IATF, also known as The AfCFTA Marketplace, is organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union and AfCFTA Secretariat.
The theme for the IATF2023 is “Connecting African Markets” and is holding from Nov. 9 to Nov. 15.
Earlier, Ahmed Samir Saleh, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Egypt, welcomed guests to the trade fair and expressed Egypt’s happiness at hosting the event.
Speaking at CANEX Summit at the IATF2023, Mrs Kanayo Awani, the Executive Vice-President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, affirmed that Africa is a continent brimming with artistic brilliance, vibrant cultures, and untold stories.
Awani said that the gathering was an opportunity to harness this creative potential and showcase the immense talent that lies within our extended borders as global Africa.
She touched on the key challenges affecting Africa stressing the need for a multi-faceted approach involving government support, private-sector investment, and international collaborations.
“Efforts should be focused on improving access to finance, strengthening intellectual property rights, investing in infrastructure and technology, enhancing skills and capacity-building initiatives, promoting trade and investment, and developing robust platforms for content distribution and monetisation.
“By overcoming these challenges, Africa’s creative and cultural industries can unlock their full potential, contribute to economic growth, create employment opportunities, preserve cultural heritage, and shape a vibrant and diverse creative landscape.
“ As we have seen it help us in nation building and image making. See how our music and film have travelled,’’ Awani said.
NAN reports that the ceremony also featured the projection of a hologram of Kwame Nkrumah, the former President of Ghana who was a key proponent of a united Africa. (NAN)