Rwanda has been named the host of Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in 2020 – a trade show that provides platform for sharing trade, investments and market information across the continent.
“We can’t wait to host our brothers and sisters from Africa in 2020,” Clare Akamanzi – Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) tweeted in reaction to the announcement made by former President of Nigeria and Chairman of the IATF Advisory Council Olusegun Obasanjo.
At the first Intra-African Trade Fair that was held in Cairo – Egypt from 11 to 17 this month, a team in charge of investment promotion at RDB were in attendance.
They showcased Rwanda’s investment opportunities and tourism products.
In his acceptance speech, the Rwandan Ambassador to Egypt Sheikh Saleh Habimana said: “On behalf of the President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, it is an honour and privilege for Rwanda to host the IAFT 2020. This comes after the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali in March 2018”.
The Ambassador added, “Rwanda is a country that was reduced to ashes during the genocide 25 years ago. 25 years down the road, we are getting ready to receive the continent. It has been said that the trademark of Africa is Ebola, but very soon, the trademark of Africa will be tolerance, peace and opening doors to whomever is in need. The people and Government of Rwanda will ensure that IATF 2020 is a stepping stone to assist in intra-African trade. Rwanda will do its best”.
The Intra-African Trade Fair consists of a 7-day trade show which enables buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals.
Analysis by the African Export- Import Bank (Afreximbank) – the organizer of the Trade fair along with African Union Commission shows that intra-African trade is lowest compared to trade among countries of other continents.
It stands at around 15% compared to Europe (59%), Asia (51%), and North America (37%). The low performance is a result of lack of access to trade and market information.
To address this challenge, the bank decided to, among other initiatives, convene the Intra-African Trade Fair every two years to provide trade and market information and connect buyers and sellers from across the continent.
In March this year, African leaders signed the historic Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Rwanda’s capital Kigali – a deal that will connect Africans to a nearly $3 trillion economy.
At the signing, however, Nigeria – the continent’s biggest market held its hand – expressing lesser interest to ink the deal.
Speaking at the Cairo Trade Fair yesterday, Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed regret that Nigeria had yet to ratify the AfCFTA.
“It is my sincere wish that Nigeria will be at the table before the AfCFTA comes into effect,” he said.
“I went around the (IATF) pavilions and the Nigerian pavilion was large. How can you be talking about the IATF when you are not part of the AfCFTA? You cannot absent yourself from what is the way for the rest of Africa,” he said.
Former President Obasanjo is also the Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018).