‘Improved market information key to intra-regional trade’
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has reiterated the need for improved access to market information, as it is the only way intra-regional trade can expand the much-desired economic growth and development of the region.
This has become necessary just as it emerged that most African manufacturers do not know that they could source raw materials from the continent and traders are not aware that enormous demand exist for their goods in neighbouring markets.
Afreximbank President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, made the observation at a breakfast meeting organised by the bank, in Busan, South Korea, to promote the maiden Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) scheduled to hold in Cairo later this year.
He said that unlike in relatively mature markets where information on the sources and suppliers of specific goods and services were seamlessly available, the situation was different in Africa.
Citing a recent study sponsored by the bank, in partnership with UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat, he said that South Africa imports leather from India at double the price Ethiopia exports the same input.
Similarly, Mauritius and Nigeria import leather products from Italy and Belgium at much higher costs than what South Africa and Botswana export them, while Kenya imports raw hides from New Zealand when Burundi exports the same product at a much lower price.
Oramah, who described the situation as tragic, saying, “we are more familiar with other markets than our own rich market”, added that Afreximbank was offering the Intra-African Trade Fair as a platform for networking and other forms of engagements among traders, manufacturers, financiers and policy makers.
It is also with the expectation that it would ultimately lead to actual intra-regional trade and investment deals.
He said that the fair, being the continent’s single largest and the first of its kind in decades, will truly bridge the enormous trade information gap and connect major players in the continent’s trade space and identify market opportunities.
The Managing Director of Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, Kanayo Awani, who presented an overview of the trade fair, disclosed that it would feature exhibitors showcasing their goods and services and business-to-business meetings to discuss opportunities and conclude deals.
She said that Afreximbank and other financial institutions will be on hand to finance deals and there would be a high-level panel for heads of state and ministers, and a conference to discuss issues affecting intra-African trade.
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