Business community across Africa showcases continental potential

Shaimaa Al-Aees
4 Min Read

In a discussion at the Egypt investment forum within day five of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023), speakers highlighted opportunities for greater trade between Egypt and other parts of Africa, Head of the African Affairs Committee at Egyptian Parliament Sherif El Gabaly underscored lessons that Egypt could share in terms of strengthening agricultural self-sufficiency. Other Egyptian business leaders shared insights from their work in the healthcare, automotive, construction and e-commerce sectors.

CEO of Pharco Pharmaceuticals Sherine Helmy shared insights on significantly reducing the cost of hepatitis treatment in Egypt to $60 per person. He highlighted the importance of political will and commitment in enabling collaboration to achieve that success.

CEO of Jumia Egypt Abdelatif Olama talked about the company’s strong brand awareness across Africa, saying, “We thrive because we are African. We benefit from growing in a big and growing population, from the growing urbanisation that happens from a growing middle class.”

For his part, Senior Business Development Manager at Hassan Allam Construction Mohamed Taher outlined ongoing construction projects by his company and invited potential partners to collaborate.

At the Barbados investment forum, the Barbados delegation said that there were opportunities for Barbados and Africa to collaborate, highlighting the stability of the country’s economy. Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados Kaye-Anne Greenidge said that there was a tremendous potential for growth in sectors which contribute to the country’s GDP and pointed to investment opportunities for Africa in areas such as tourism, agro-processing and the green economy.

Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Kevin Greenidge said that, from an investor’s perspective, Barbados had “good buffers” with its foreign reserves and that the country had a low unemployment rate.

Executive Officer of the Barbados’ National Cultural Foundation Carol Roberts-Reifer discussed the country’s creative industries.

While the Commercial and Cultural Attaché, at the Barbados High Commission in Accra Phil Phillips announced plans to introduce Barbadian goods to some African markets in the coming weeks.

IATF2023 attendees were also treated to a panel discussion on ‘The role of the AfCFTA in Accelerating the Implementation of African Development Agenda 2063’. The panellists said that political will was a crucial factor for success.

Head of the Egyptian Commercial Representation Service Yahya Al-Wathiq-Bellah, emphasised the importance of political will throughout the entire structure.

CEO of the African Union Development Agency- NEPAD Nardos Bekele Thomas said that a conducive environment and willingness of governments to honour their commitments were crucial.

Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)Kanayo Awani said that financiers played a crucial role in protecting the African continent from the adverse effects of supply chain disruptions. Awani argued that there was a need to “reverse engineer” colonial trade routes, which were established without consideration for the African population. “We support that with financing but it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

Responding to the panellists, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals Albert Muchanga announced some upcoming projects aimed at ensuring harmonisation of regulations, including a ‘Made in Africa’ strategy.

He also stressed the need to include the private sector in state-level negotiations, adding, “A time should come when our governments must say the private sector will be informed about the outcome of negotiations.”

IATF2023, Africa’s largest trade and investment fair started on November 9 and runs until

November 15. It is expected to attract over 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors, with trade and investment deals worth $43bn projected to be concluded during the event.

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