Mbabane: The Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) has announced the Kingdom of Eswatini’s participation in the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) virtual platform.
The IATF virtual trade fair platform is an online opportunity that continues for 12 months leading up to the live event in Kigali on 6 – 12 September 2021. The main objective of the digital showcase is to assist in ensuring that momentum in investment and trade is maintained across the continent and has this year become particularly beneficial in light of COVID-19 restrictions.
Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) was initially set to take place from 1 to 7 September 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IATF can be found at https://www.intrafricantradefair.com/en/virtual-trade-fair . The virtual platform will host a wide range of visitors and exhibitors from Africa and beyond.
In a statement sent to this publication, Head of Trade at EIPA, Bongani Ntshangase said “EIPA is happy to announce its involvement in the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021”.
“In accordance with the country’s strategic roadmap, the Government of Eswatini is working, among other things, to provide job opportunities, boost small enterprises and increase export opportunities for businesses operating in the country. EIPA has aligned itself with assisting as far as possible in this regard by creating opportunities for companies in Eswatini to interact with potential partners and clients from all around the continent.
“The impact that COVID-19 has had on the country’s economy cannot be ignored. As a result, ensuring that the country has a presence in forums where it can effectively market itself becomes all the more important.” He said.
He added that considering the many industries operating in the country, Eswatini will use the virtual platform to further increase its exports into the rest of the African continent.
The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) will provide a platform for entry into a market of over 1.2 billion people joined together by the African Continental Free Trade Area, serving as a marketplace bringing together continental and global buyers and sellers and showcasing goods and services.
It will enable stakeholders to share trade, investment and market information as well as trade finance and trade facilitation solutions designed to support intra-African trade and African economic integration.
In addition to establishing a business-to-business and a business-to-government exchange platform for business deals and advisory services, the second IATF will also operate a Virtual Trade Fair on an interactive online platform accessible to all.
It will also focus on Africa’s creative economy as well as the automotive industry with dedicated programmes. A Conference will run alongside the exhibition and will feature high-profile speakers and panellists addressing topical issues relating to trade finance, payments, trade facilitation, trade-enabling infrastructure, harmonisation of trade standards, industrialization, regional value chains and investment.
The show is expected that the different industries being displayed will show our country’s ability to part-take in significant external trade opportunities which will ultimately stimulate economic activity over time. Both business and consumers are encouraged to visit the virtual stands to scout for opportunities presented by the participating countries.
Eswatini is currently ranked number 1 in trading across African borders in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2020. The country plan’s on leveraging this advantage through the IATF2021 virtual platform, promoting its top export products to prospective buyers. A number of industries currently operating in the country will be showcased, some of these will include but will not be limited to concentrates, timber products, citrus and sugar.
The country will demonstrate its capacity to deliver as a sugar exporter where it currently ranks amongst the top 5 sugar exporters on the continent. Opportunities to diversify the country’s export markets into the West and North African regions will also be taken into account as Eswatini’s current export activity is mostly focused on the Southern and East African region.
According to the Eswatini Review, an overview of the Kingdom of Eswatini’s economy 2019/2020, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, pointed out that one of his goals is to put Eswatini in a position where the Ease of Doing Business Index will lead to the country being counted among the continent’s top 10 and Southern Africa’s top 3 trade destinations overall. Together with this he mentioned the need for a significant increase in exports over the next five years, doubling the value of such transactions over the period.