The second Intra-African Trade Fair takes place in Durban this week. It aims to accelerate trade and investment on the African continent.

The Fair brings key figures in the world of trade together on one platform, including entrepreneurs, financiers, governments, and regulators.

It’s organised by the African Export-Import Bank in collaboration with the African Union and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The Fair is seen as a networking platform for African states. The last conference took place in Cairo in Egypt.

With intra- African trade at 13%, it’s far behind intra-regional trade achieved by blocs like Europe, which stands at 60%.

More than 50 countries are expected to be represented by an estimated 10 000 visitors and buyers.

A thousand exhibitors from across Africa are set to showcase their goods and services.

KZN MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Ravi Pillay says: “The direct spend and benefit is around R300 million with the indirect spend I am sure it will go close to R500 million. Our own contribution, we largely contributed through making the ICC available and putting the costs to that and at this stage, we looking at a total provincial government exposure, about R15 million.”

More than 80 South African companies will have an opportunity to promote their products.

There will be a special focus on the automotive sector, but industries such as fashion, textile and entertainment are also included.

“A major pillar is the automobile sector because we want to stimulate local production in the continent but also what we call the creative sector of the economy such as arts, crafts film industry, Nollywood, Bollywood and has a huge potential for expansion in the creative sector of the economy,” adds Pillay.

The conference is also a lifeline for the city and the tourism industry.

The Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre is said to have suffered an operating loss of more than R60 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the hotels are fully booked from today and that is a fantastic warm-up start, going into December and we have one more conference in December the HIV/AIDS conference and that will assist greatly in putting the ICC back on track as it suffered during the pandemic,” Pillay says.

Hundred-and-fifty young entrepreneurs and 80 small medium and micro enterprises from the province have received assistance from the KwaZulu-Natal government to exhibit.

This is to inspire young businesses to venture across the borders and encourage trade relations amongst African countries.