The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the Government of Rwanda have decided to postpone the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2020) due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The trade fair, which was initially set to take place from 1 to 7 September 2020 in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, will not be delayed for one year.
This decision was given the green light by the IATF 2020 Advisory Council during its sixth meeting, held virtually, on 26 April, after careful assessment of the situation.
Organised by Afreximbank in collaboration with the AU, the second IATF will still be hosted by the Government of Rwanda. It will now be scheduled to take place from 6 to 12 September 2021 in Kigali, under the title IATF2021.
Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah said the ongoing pandemic was not conducive to holding such an important pan-African event.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety,” he said. “It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF.”
Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union stressed the need for participants to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the trade fair. He added that the postponement would allow stakeholders to focus on the urgent collective task of responding to the pandemic.
“This is the time to join efforts to also mitigate the impact of the pandemic on African economies,” Muchanga said. “We have agreed that the second IATF needed to take place in a more favourable context to enable African countries and companies to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which will now become an element of their recovery strategy.”
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, IATF Advisory Council Chairman and former President of Nigeria said, “We offer sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus. We hope that this pandemic will soon be overcome to enable normal businesses to resume and underpin the forthcoming Trade Fair.”
The Advisory Council also decided to postpone the third edition of IATF from 2022 to 2023 to be in line with the two-year intervals between IATF events.