In the official closing ceremony for the First IATF 2018, former President of Nigeria and Chairman of the IATF Advisory Council H.E Chief Olusegun Obasanjo announced the city of Kigali, Rwanda as the next hosts of the IATF 2020

n his acceptance speech, the Rwandan Ambassador to Egypt Mr.Sheikh Saleh Habimana stated, « On behalf of the President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, it is an honour and privilege for Rwanda to host the IAFT 2020. This comes after the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali in March 2018 ».

The Ambassador added, « Rwanda is a country that was reduced to ashes during the genocide 25 years ago. 25 years down the road, we are getting ready to receive the continent. It has been said that the trademark of Africa is Ebola, but very soon, the trademark of Africa will be tolerance, peace and opening doors to whomever is in need. The people and Government of Rwanda will ensure that IATF 2020 is a stepping stone to assist in intra-African trade. Rwanda will do its best ».

Giving his remarks at the closing ceremony, Chief Obasanjo expressed the gratitude of the organizers, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to their partner, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the hosts, the Government of Egypt. He thanked sponsors, IATF 2018 ambassadors, delegates, exhibitors and speakers for their invaluable contribution to the success of the event.

He affirmed that the IATF has succeeded in making market information available, so that investors as well as buyers and sellers know what is available, where and when. He described the AfCFTA as a robust framework that will enhance intra-African trade and remove trade barriers. « This trade fair will also play a huge role in establishing contacts and driving trade development » he added.

Chief Obasanjo encouraged Africans to change their culture of belief and to believe in Africa and what Africa can achieve, stating, « There will be challenges, but while standing at a crossroads we have identified the right road in order to grow African economies, actualize potential and fulfil our destiny. We must work together so that we can swim together in progress, prosperity and security. There is no pride in poverty; only strength, respect and pride in economic power and development ».

He applauded the IATF as an invaluable event that has delivered what was expected; the establishment of relationships and networks that will drive Africa’s trade industry.

Speaking at the closing ceremony on behalf of the AUC, H.E. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry expressed the feedback received from participants. He acknowledged both the positive and negative feedback, committing to learning from and rectifying the short comings of this year’s instalment of the event.

Speaking on the achievements of the trade fair, Amb.Muchanga said, « The visitor numbers and business deals signed exceeded the initial target, the visitor number of exhibitors visiting each other’s stands was very good and overall, the IATF has been a resounding success. All contributors deserve to be warmly congratulated and appreciated for a job well done and collectively, all participants in the fair have unveiled a branch that will grow with a dynamism of its own ».

He expressed his appreciation at seeing the number of youths exhibiting as entrepreneurs and a higher number of them being female. H.E Muchanga said he is happy to see the youth active in this way, « They are moving in the right direction, they are creating and securing their future », he said,

« I congratulate and encourage you to grow your business ».

Afreximbank President and Chairman of the board, Prof Benedict Oramah congratulated all involved, saying; « We came, we saw, we conquered. We lived true to our mantra; if it is possible it will be done, if it is impossible it can be done. Today is not the end of the trade fair, it is the beginning of the trade fair, it’s a movement – a marathon not a sprint ».

He highlighted the fairs successes saying, « We’ve shared trade, investment and marketing information, introduced buyers to sellers and investors to investees, signed trade deals and exhibitors showed their goods and services. Where we have fallen short and made mistakes, they were honest mistakes. We are in this together. We will continue to struggle to live up to your fullest expectations ».

Prof Oramah concluded by thanking the African Union (AU), for being the strongest partner. He defined the AU as being transformed from a political organisation to an engine for economic progress in Africa.

Sherine El Sharbagi, CEO of the Export Development Authority, expressed her sentiments on the success of the IATF, echoing Prof Oramah’s sentiments that this is indeed not the end of the IATF but the beginning.

The Express News

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