South Africa is this November set to host Africa’s biggest trade fair, the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) which was previously scheduled for Rwanda, the Afreximbank has announced.
The Trade Fair for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came alive in this January was previously due to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 8 to 14 December 2021 ,will now take place in Durban, South Africa from 15 to 21 November 2021.
AfCFTA will cut across Africa’s 55 economies with a combined 1,3 billion consumers and a combined US$3,2 trillion gross domestic product.
The decision to move the Trade Fair to Durban was made by the Advisory Council of IATF2021 at its 10th meeting after formal consultations with the Government of Rwanda, who indicated that logistical constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic had adversely affected the progress of construction of a new facility to host the event.
Commenting on the decision, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, IATF2021 Advisory Council Chairman and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, said having undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the measures that are being taken by various stakeholders, he believe that a significant number of people would have been vaccinated by November.
“This will allow us to have a successful event. We will continue working with the Government of South Africa 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. We congratulate the Government of the Republic of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and thank them for the swift efforts that are being made to ensure that IATF2021 safely accommodates the growing number of participating governments, exhibitors, buyers, conference delegates, and visitors that have confirmed their participation in the event,” Obasanjo said.
He commended the Government of Rwanda, Afreximbank, the African Union , the AfCFTA Secretariat and all IATF stakeholders for showing great resilience in adapting to the uncertain environment arising from the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The AfCFTA agreement contains provisions compelling member states to remove tariffs from 90% of goods entering their markets from the region.
This is expected to allow free access to commodities, goods and services across the African continent.
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala said was honoured to host this important gathering of the world as the province implement the Economic Reconstruction, Recovery and Transformation Plan.
He highlighted that the approach was to carefully balance the protection of lives against promoting and sustaining livelihoods.
“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 our brothers and sisters in Durban for this Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021).We look forward to welcoming the delegates to the Trade Fair. This gathering is one of the most significant strategic interventions to remind us of our interconnectedness, and of the urgent need to promote intra-Africa trade to reignite economic opportunities and create much-needed jobs for all our people,”Zikalala said.