Over 200 participants gathered for two days in Geneva (held from 13-14 June 2013) to experience yet another successful AFIF forum entitled ‘Trade for Growth and Development’ and organized in partnership with AFREXIMBANK, knowledge partners the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as well as partner organisations Ecobank, LR Group, the National Programme on Food Security (PNSA), Ace-Global Depository, Best African Resort Group and Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
Chaired by Dr. Babacar Ndiaye, former two-term President of the African Development Bank, the conference put the spotlight on inter-regional trade within Sub Saharan Africa and provided an international platform for business people, experts, academics and local community representatives to voice their ideas, concerns and to establish business partnerships.
Presentation and analysis of the subject were divers, ranging from formal data from international organisations to the likes of Tapiwa Mashakada, Minister Economic Planning & Investment Promotion, Zimbabwe telling the audience the country was open for business, representatives from Beyalsa State Nigeria highlighting their strategy to diversify from oil exports, as well as business associations from Cote D’Ivoire and the global LR Group from Israel providing their views on the future of continental trade.
As Abraham Byanyima from Kenya representing PTA Bank announced after the conference, “The conference was excellent and I managed to network with several entities and hope to pursue these contacts and bring them to fruition.”
The first day focused on – International Financial Institutions (IFIs), Innovative solutions to increase Trade Promotion, Investment and Sustainable Finance whilst the second day put the spotlight on Boosting Trade & Agriculture in Africa, Investment Opportunities in Zimbabwe and Challenges by private sector in access to finance on big scale projects in Africa amongst other subjects.
An essential component of AFIF forums are the B2B meetings where partnerships are forged. In just two days, 84 participants from 32 countries held 674 such meetings. “As the years go by, the B2B sessions become more intense and productive. This year was no exception and participants left with some real concrete ideas and potential partners”, concluded a delighted Idit Miller, EMRC International Vice President and Managing Director.
The first day of talks also provided a platform for the Project Incubator Award with Claire Matamba, representing Agrimat from Gabon, announced as the winner. Her tenacity to expand and grow her agricultural project, which she started from the ground up, earned her the top prize. The other finalists included Mahesh Bakaya Director of GWC from Lesotho, Magloire N’Dakon President of Cote D’Ivoire’s Administrative council, Marie and Jacques Engouindi from Congo representing SCS.
IFC, World Bank and ITC – International Trade Centre (UN) were this year’s knowledge partners. Stakeholders linked to African trade were also present in Geneva, which included government officials, experts, financiers, entrepreneurs and civil society, such as: Africa Agriculture & Trade Investment Fund (AATIF) – ECOBANK – Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) – UN Conference for Trade & Development (UNCTAD) – AMSCO – LR Group – Origin Group and many others.
For the first time, a pre-conference training session entitled “Designing and Presenting a Business Plan” took place (11-12 June), organised by ITC (UN Agency) experts, making it a unique opportunity for participants to ensure their business reaches the next level.