The second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) has been rescheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa from 15 to 21 November 2021.
The Trade Fair was previously due to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 8 to 14 December 2021. The decision to move the Trade Fair to Durban was made by the IATF2021 Advisory Council at its 10th meeting, held virtually on 25 May.
This decision was arrived at after formal consultations with the Rwandan Government, who indicated that logistical constraints related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had adversely affected the progress of construction of a new facility to host the event.
Commenting on the decision, Olusegun Obasanjo, IATF2021 Advisory Council Chairperson and former President of Nigeria, commended major participants and stakeholders in the event for showing great resilience in adapting to the uncertain environment due to COVID-19.
These stakeholders include: the Rwandan Government; the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank); the African Union (AU); the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat; and all IATF stakeholders.
“We have once again been able to shoulder the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting all sectors worldwide and forcing Governments, corporates, and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety and keep economies running,” Obasanjo said.
He added, “Relocating IATF2021 to Durban saves us time on the calendar, and will enable African countries and corporates, as part of their recovery strategy, to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which is also an important component of the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement under which trading commenced this year.”
A comprehensive assessment has been undertaken of the measures that are being taken by the AU and Afreximbank, under the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), as well as other initiatives to procure vaccines for the continent, he noted.
Obasanjo also said that a significant number of people will have been vaccinated by November, allowing for a successful event to be held.
“We will continue working with the South African Government to ensure that all the COVID-19 measures are complied with during the Trade Fair as the safety of both residents and visitors is paramount,” he added.
Welcoming the conference, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala said, “As KwaZulu-Natal, we are honoured to host this important gathering of the world as we implement our own Economic Reconstruction, Recovery and Transformation Plan.”
“Our approach is to carefully balance the protection of lives against promoting and sustaining livelihoods,” Zikalala said, “Based on plans announced by our President Cyril Ramaphosa on rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination programme in South Africa, we will be ready in November to host the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021).”
The gathering is one of the most significant strategic interventions to remind the continent of its interconnectedness, and of the urgent need to promote intra-Africa trade to reignite economic opportunities and create much-needed jobs, he said.