Premier Ngirente stresses need to accelerate Intra-African trade

On 16 November 2021 at 05:26

Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente has urged African countries to deepen their collaboration as embedded in the intra-Africa supply chains if they are to improve economic resilience and growth outcomes during this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

The premier was speaking at the opening of the Intra-African Trade Fair-IATF running from 15th to 21st November 2021 in South Africa.

The trade fair has brought together over 10,000 delegates and more than 1000 exhibitors from across the continent.

The opening ceremony was graced by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa; former Nigerian President and chairperson of the IATF 2021 Advisory Council, Olusegun Obasanjo and other dignitaries including heads of state an governments.

Held for the second time, the exhibition was organized by Afreximbank, African Union (AU) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

Minister Ngirente who represented President Paul Kagame at the ceremony said that the exhibition takes place in the right time.

“It comes as a good opportunity to build on successes of the first Intra-Africa Trade Fair, which took place in Egypt in 2018, where African businesses registered trade and investment deals worth over US$ 32 billion,” he said.

One of the key flagship projects of Africa’s Agenda 2063 is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market place.

The theme of this year’s Trade Fair focuses on a new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as a key player to boosting Intra-African trade and investment.
Premier Ngirente stressed that COVID-19 pandemic has further illustrated the value of integration.

“It showed us the fragility of reliance on external supplies, the areas to improve in our systems, and the importance of ensuring that integration is key in our countries’ broader development agendas. Improving economic resilience and growth outcomes during this period will therefore require African countries to deepen their collaboration as embedded in the intra-Africa supply chains,” he said.

Statistics show that Africa’s economy is expected to rebound from a contraction of 2.1% recorded in 2020 to 3.4% growth in 2021 and 4.6% in 2022.

“Despite this projected positive recovery in 2021, other figures indicate that Africa still lags behind other continents. And lowering trade costs for deeper integration of markets is one of the key strategic responses to bridge this gap. Therefore, there has never been a better time for supporting Intra-African trade than today,” said Premier Ngirente.

He explained that Rwanda has expended much effort in different areas which is expected to foster innovation, research, infrastructure development and make the country the best investment destination.

Premier Ngirente said that Rwanda in collaboration with other partners, is in the final stages of establishing a vaccine manufacturing facility to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.

As he arrived in South Africa, he was received by President Ramaphosa.

As he delivered remarks, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that trade is built on a bedrock of investment and stressed the need to find ways of attracting more investment into African economies and encourage African businesses to invest in each other’s countries.

“This is the time for action. As countries let us work with speed to resolve any outstanding issues around the AfCFTA, let those countries who have not already ratified it do so and let us take the necessary steps towards domestication. South Africa stands ready to work closely with all African countries to forge more balanced, equitable and fair trade relations among African nations,” he noted.

Olusegun Obasanjo also said that the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) will foster Africa’s 2063 agenda to transform the continent into a global powerhouse.

He also said the trade fair was an opportunity to glamourise the African trade market to attract stakeholders for business investments.

“The IATF is the largest and go-to trade and investment firm of the African continent,” Obasanjo said.

“The trade fair is also one of the key initiatives in support of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Premier Ngirente has stressed the need to accelerate Intra-African trade.
As he arrived in South Africa, Premier Ngirente was received by President Ramaphosa.