IATF Generates $42.1bn Trade, Investment Deals

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Ndubuisi Francis

The recently concluded second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) generated a record $42.1 billion in trade and trade-related investment deals, according to the latest tally released Monday (today) by the IATF Advisory Council.

The latest figures captured additional data submitted by trade promotion agencies of Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa.

Organised by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, IATF 2021 saw $42.1 billion worth of trade and investment deals agreed during the event, which took place between November 15 and 21 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

This record value of trade and investment deals was the outcome of more than 500 business deals included during the rich and varied seven-day programme of business-to-business, business-to-government and government-to-government exchanges, exhibitions, trade and investment conference sessions.

It also includes other verticals, such as the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) programme, the IATF Automotive Show and the African Union’s Youth Start-Up programme.

IATF 2021 surpassed its pre-set target of $40 billion in trade and investment deals, going well beyond the $32 billion in transactions closed during the first edition in Cairo, Egypt in 2018.

The expected number of participants and exhibitors were also exceeded.

Against a target of 1,100 exhibitors, IATF 2021 saw 1,161 exhibitors showcase their goods and services.

While the organisers aimed for at least 10,000 participants, the event attracted over 30,000 participants with 11,828 people attending in person and over 27,000 participating virtually via the IATF virtual platform, bringing the total number of participants to around 39,000 from 128 countries around the world.

The IATF 2021, which opened on November 15 at a ceremony attended by seven African Heads of State and Government, was also marked by several major innovations, such as the first African Sub-Sovereign Governments Conference held on November 18, on the sidelines of the trade fair, as well as the first ever African Auto Show and Auto Forum.

A former Nigerian President and Chairman of the IATF 2021 Advisory Council, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, commended the outstanding performance, while congratulating the organisers and the host country for their tenacity.

He said: “Despite the uncertain environment arising from the COVID-19 pandemic situation, IATF 2021 attracted exhibitors from 59 countries, of which 46 were African countries. Buyers, sellers and investors came physically and virtually from across Africa and beyond to connect and exchange trade, investment and market information.

“We have effectively begun the process of building bridges for a successful AfCFTA, less than a year after the commencement of trade under this agreement.

“We congratulate the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, Afreximbank, the AU Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat, and thank them for the swift efforts made in record time to organise this historic event, which has resulted in the resounding success that we see today.”

Commenting on the results, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said that the success of IATF 2021 is a proof that intra-African trade is taking root under the platform of the AFCFTA.

“We are proud to be well on the way to consolidating an initiative that is already beginning to transform intra-African trade. IATF 2021 was enormously successful at all levels. The US$42.1 billion in trade and investment deals that were generated reflected the record participation, a well-thought-out platform, diversity and depth of goods and services showcased and a rich programme. We thank the African Union Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government as well as our other partner institutions, donors, exhibitors, buyers and performers for their strong collaboration,” Oramah said.