Organisers of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) hosted a virtual roadshow event in partnership with the Africa Centre for the African diaspora, under the theme ‘Building Bridges between Africa and the Diaspora to realise opportunities under the Continental Free Trade Area”.
The event’s objective was to raise awareness of how the Diaspora can connect to markets and businesses across the continent through the IATF 2021. Organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, IATF2021 will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa from 15 to 21 November 2021.
In her Keynote speech, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Managing Director-Intra-African Trade Initiative, Afreximbank, said that Afreximbank’s long-held view is “that a diaspora programme must be a two-way street; not so much about what they can do for us but, equally importantly, what we can do for them. While the African Diaspora has grown and become a significant source of development finance and skilled human capital, we must nonetheless create systems and build institutions which connect in a sustainable manner the Diaspora to the continent of Africa; IATF 2021 offers one such platform”.
Ms. Hlengiwe Mavimbela, Member of Executive Council for Arts & Culture-KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa stated: “IATF is one of the key events for boosting trade in Africa. This conference will create a platform for professionals across the continent to come under one roof, deliberate and propose solutions on issues affecting Africa. As a country, we still face difficult challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, especially for youth. It is encouraging to see that the trade fair will also create a youth start-up programme, which will have a dedicated pavilion targetting youth to showcase goods and services. This will also assist in providing entrepreneurship training and opportunities while creating network opportunities”.
The IATF2021 Diaspora Virtual Event featured a vibrant panel discussion under the theme ‘Building Bridges between Africa and the Diaspora to realise opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area’ – with the participation of Einstein Ntim, Chairman-Global Startup Ecosystem; Temi Adeniji, MD-Warner Music South Africa; Dr. Gainmore Zanamwe, Head of Trade Facilitation Unit, Intra-African Trade Initiative-Afreximbank; Angela Naa Afoley Odai, Interim Head of the Diaspora Division and Diaspora Policy Officer – Europe at the Directorate of Citizens and Diaspora Organisations (CIDO) African Union Commission; Busie Matsiko-Andan, Global Strategist, Pont Global and Executive Director-Africa Future Summit; Youssouf Simbo Diakite, Co-chairperson-African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe; and Monde Twala, Senior VP-Viacom CBS/BET International. Attendees also enjoyed a poetry rendition by the Somali-American poet, Ladan Osman, and a musical performance by six-time Grammy nominee Vincent Berry.
Stemming from its definition of intra-African trade as including trade between Africa and its diaspora, Afreximbank recognises the invaluable contribution of the Diaspora to the African continent’s structural transformation aspirations, as enshrined under the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa we want.
The Bank has deployed a Diaspora Strategy that looks to build bridges between Africa and its Diaspora through trade and investment promotion; savings mobilisation and remittances; skills transfer; research and policy advocacy; and diaspora outreach. In a bid to promote trade and investment with the Diaspora, the Bank has included the focus on building bridges with the Diaspora as an integral part of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021.