Traders exhibiting at the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) at the Durban International Convention Centre are hoping for a piece of the African market pie as they showcase their products and services.
With African economies wounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, hopes are pinned on this gathering to rekindle trade.
More than 1000 businesses are attending, alongside government representatives and business leaders.
With the Africa Continental Free Trade Area now in force, it is hoped that through this conference, Africa will begin to increase Trade that currently stands at 16%.
In his welcome speech, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel raised concerns about a continent that doesn’t consume what it produces.
The seven-day event was officially opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Delivering the opening address, South African Cyril Ramaphosa urged African countries to work with speed to address challenges that make trade difficult in the continent.
The Intra-African Trade Fair which is now in its second edition brings together African countries with a view to cement trade ties amongst businesses in the continent. The fair aims to build bridges for African countries to trade successfully.
Seven heads of state attended the opening ceremony of this event.
In the video below, President Ramaphosa addresses the Intra-African Trade Fair:
Platform to link buyers, sellers and investors
The trade show provides a platform to link international buyers, sellers and investors. It also allows participants and visitors to profile and share market information and investment opportunities.
The trade fair will this year focus on the newly launched Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The event which attracted more than 10 000 people across the continent is hosted by the South African government in conjunction with African Export-Import Bank.
These small businesses from Ghana are confident that their products will be seen by the right pair of eyes, increasing their chances of expanding their businesses.
SABC News Liabo Setho reports:
Although organised with noble intentions, the conference did get off to a shaky start, leaving scores of delegates frustrated at the slow place of the accreditation process. This meant that the programme was delayed by about 2 hours.
CEO of Trade and Investment at KwaZulu-Natal Neville Matjie says Premier Sihle Zikalala had to intervene to sort out the chaos.
“There was definitely a huge delay in the accreditation process and because we had six heads of state the security was tight and they were a lot stricter than they would normally be for a normal conference and that caused serious delays. Our Premier Sihle Zikalala intervened and we reorganised and created better priority areas for speakers as well as diplomats. So that’s really where the cracks of the issue were. It is unfortunate and it’s something that we didn’t anticipate and we’re hoping this will improve going forward.”
A delegate says: “We were not informed and we were not advised, it was just actually hearing from others within the queue what was happening. The rain was coming down and there was nobody there to offer us assistance. The people at the front were actually students. They themselves were so overwhelmed they were not well informed.”
The second delegate says: “We didn’t get our accreditation today. We got them the day before and we were waiting in line for more than two hours, three hours. Some people were jumping the queues in almost overcast rainy weather. It was a hell of a bum fight to get into the accreditation, definitely not worth people to wait for accreditation for an organisation that has been over a week long.”
A Walkabout at the Durban IATF:
-Reporting by Liabo Setho and Amina Accram