DURBAN - KWAZULU-Natal has been commended for hosting what has been hailed as a successful Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF).
Delivery the closing remarks today (Sunday), managing director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative at Afreximbank, Kanayo Awani said the event exceeded all expectations and it was a success.
The week-long fair at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban ended yesterday.
Awani said the IATF had 11 828 attendees against the target of 10 000 and a total of 1 161 exhibitors against the target of 1100.
“Fifty-nine countries participated in the exhibition stands, 46 were countries from Africa and 13 were outside the continent. 70 sponsors were attracted to come on board. By midday on Sunday, the trade fair had resulted in $36 billion (about R565bn) worth of trade deals being closed,” she said.
She added that the amount is likely to increase as the organisers indicated that more deals were still being concluded.
Former president of Nigeria and chairperson of the IATF Advisory Council Olusegun Obasanjo said what had been achieved at the fair was impressive because it had a lot of challenges.
“To say that my heart is full of joy would be an understatement. When I look at what we accomplished last week the word that comes to my mind is impressive. It is impressive that we had such a display of African ingenuity and our readiness to collaborate and work together. It is impressive that so many deals were closed over the past seven days,” he said.
Obasanjo thanked the South African government and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala for preparing the fair at such a short notice.
The provincial government said the IATF 2021 led to the strengthening of relationships between governments and between businesses from various parts of the continent. This has contributed to efforts of achieving an economically integrated continent.
The hosting of the trade fair has also served as a platform through which proudly South African products were showcased as the national government supported 80 companies to exhibit at the trade fair.
The provincial government also aided 55 KwaZulu-Natal-based companies, including Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises to exhibit. The provincial government also ensured that 150 young entrepreneurs from KwaZulu-Natal were selected as delegates for the Youth Pavilion.
Hosting the trade fair served as a boost to the tourism sector with hotel occupancy being reported to be at 70% during the week of the IATF. In terms of the overall economic impact of the event, the estimated total direct spend is R235 million while the contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is R580 million.
Commenting on the success of the IATF, Zikalala said: “In the midst of a global pandemic, we had an incident-free IATF 2021. We thank everyone who worked hard behind the scenes to make it a truly memorable event. We pay tribute, in particular to law-enforcement agencies for diligently working to safeguard the event and all participants. We were truly honoured to see the participation of African heads of state and governments, African diplomats, senior government leaders, captains of industry, entrepreneurs, exhibitors, and scholars. We are happy that we reached and surpassed many of our targets.”
The registrations for the 2023 upcoming IAFT are open and it will be hosted in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire.