IATF 2020 postponed by one year
• As Afreximbank launches $3million COVID-19 grant
• To finance the production of equipment, in Africa with $200m
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU), and the Government of Rwanda have decided to postpone by one year the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020), initially set to take place from September 1-7, in Kigali, Rwanda.
Accordingly, the Advisory Council also postponed the third edition of IATF from 2022 to 2023, in line with the two-year intervals between IATF events.
AfreximBank in a statement yesterday, said the decision was endorsed by the IATF2020 Advisory Council after careful assessment of the situation during its sixth meeting held virtually on April 6.
Organised by Afreximbank in collaboration with the AU, the second IATF will still be hosted by the Government of Rwanda and is now scheduled to take place from 6 to 12 September 2021 in Kigali. It will now be dubbed IATF2021.
Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah said that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic situation was not conducive to holding such an important pan African event which was initially scheduled to take place in just 4 months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety,” he said. “It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF.”
The Bank had earlier launched a $3million grant to complement continental efforts to combat the novel COVID-19 pandemic, as cases of the novel Coronavirus pandemic continue to rise in Africa.
Oramah explained that the grant was in response to a request by African Head of States, through the Chair Person, African Union (AU), and President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, for the mobilisation of resources to address the pandemic.
Calling for collaborations among African countries and institutions to effectively fight the disease in the continent, the Bank also stressed the need for wide institutional support for the COVID-19 response effort, noting that no country or institution would be able to rise to the challenge of the pandemic on its own.
Oramah also said a significant proportion of the grant would be allocated to the COVID-19 Special Fund set up by AU, and African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC), to combat the disease.
His words: “We hope that our modest contribution would help to address some of the immediate needs. Afreximbank’s grant support comes in addition to several initiatives the Bank is taking to support the effort in fighting the pandemic, such as the $3billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA), which was launched in March, to help African countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Bank has also set aside an amount of $200million for use in financing the production of COVID-19 equipment and supplies within Africa, and we encourage other African banks, funds, corporations and charitable organisations to also contribute to the relief effort.”
Meanwhile, IATF Advisory Council Chairman and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, said: “We offer sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus. We also wish all those who have been affected by the virus speedy recovery. We hope that this pandemic will soon be overcome to enable normal businesses to resume and underpin the forthcoming Trade Fair.”
Stressing the need to enable participants to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the intra-African trade fair, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, the African Union, Amb. Albert Muchanga, said the postponement would allow stakeholders to focus on the urgent collective task of responding to the pandemic.
“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis. This is the time to join efforts to also mitigate the impact of the pandemic on African economies. We have agreed that the second IATF needed to take place in a more favourable context to enable African countries and companies to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which will now become an element of their recovery strategy,” said Muchanga.
Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, reiterated his country’s commitment to the success of the trade fair.
He said: “The reality we are confronted with today as we fight the spread of Covid-19 has prompted us to look at various factors which will undoubtedly impact African businesses and investors this year. In partnership with Afreximbank and the AU Commission, Rwanda is looking forward to the second IATF in 2021 to boost intra African trade, which is more than ever crucial to the development of our continent.”