(Addis Ababa) – Sustainable economic growth and social development across Africa hinges on the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and that it be put into use by the continent’s private sector. This will be the key message coming out of the 19th World Export Development Forum taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week (20-22 November).
Co-hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, the meeting will be bringing together more than 1,000 business leaders, policymakers and trade development officials from across Africa and beyond to explore opportunities and challenges in global trade.
A key focus will be placed on the African Continental Free Trade Area and how this can fulfill its promise of unlocking the Africa’s economic growth potential. According to ITC data, removing tariffs across the continent could add 13% to intra-African trade. Other top agenda items will be creating new partnerships to ensure sustainable employment creation, making policy environments more conducive to inclusive and sustainable trade, and how to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
Taking place at the African Union headquarters during Africa Industrialization Week, sessions will explore topics such as investing in value addition, addressing the skills mismatch, producing sustainable packaging and much more.
The World Export Development Forum will be preceded by ITC’s annual SheTrades Global event on 19 November. The event will feature sessions focused on making trade more inclusive trade for women and will explore in-depth how the AfCFTA can deliver economic opportunities for women.
Addis Ababa will this week also host the second edition of the Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-employment Forum (YES) to further strengthen the accent on young people in trade. Held on 20 November in conjunction with the opening of Africa Industrialization Day, the YES Forum offers a platform for young entrepreneurs to share knowledge and for stakeholders to partner on innovative approaches and best practices for youth entrepreneurship.
The YES Forum is organized under the Decent Jobs for Youth Initiative, a partnership between ITC, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the African Union.
This year’s WEDF will also feature a Youth Media Zone, a space for youth representatives to open up a dialogue about youth inclusiveness. Supported by USAID in collaboration with the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA), young entrepreneurs, journalists, bloggers and vloggers will make the voice of youth heard through different activities such as interactive sessions, workshops and interviews.
In parallel to the high-level meetings, business-to-business matchmaking sessions will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to forge new business deals in a variety of sectors.
Senior government representatives attending the World Export Development Forum, SheTrades Global and the YES Forum include: Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia; Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Small Business Development, South Africa; Fetlework Gebregziabher Abrha, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ethiopia; and Papa Amadou Sarr, Minister, General Delegate for Women and Youth Entrepreneurship, Senegal.
Representatives from international organizations and government include: Albert M. Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union; Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre; Abebe Abebayehu Chekol, Commissioner, Ethiopian Investment Commission; Ranieri Sabatucci, Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to the African Union; Hani Salem Sonbol, Chief Executive Officer, International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation; Jessica E. Lapenn, Ambassador of the United States to the African Union; Eleni Kyrou, Head, Representation to Ethiopia and the African Union, European Investment Bank (EIB); Takao Seki, Director-General, Japan External Trade Organization, Addis Ababa; Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director of the Enhanced Integrated Framework Executive Secretariat at the World Trade Organization; Hoonmin Lim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Ethiopia; and Frank Matsaert, Chief Executive Officer, TradeMark East Africa Afua Asabea Asare, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Exports Promotion Authority; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Representatives from the private sector include: Tewolde GebreMariam, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines; Israr Ahmed Mecca, Managing Director, Farida Group; Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board, African Export-Import Bank; Ashish J. Thakkar, Chief Executive Officer, Mara Phones; Mwayi Kampesi, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Planet Green Africa, Malawi; Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Enda Sportswear, Kenya; Munir Duri, Chief Executive Officer, Kifiya Financial Technology, Ethiopia; Pawel Hansdorfer, Senior Director, International Business, Asseco, Poland; Alex Ntale, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda ICT Chamber; Mohammed N. Mijindadi, Managing Director, General Electric Gas Power System, Nigeria; Manuel Muñiz, Dean, IE School of Global and Public Affairs, Spain; Joakim Byström, Chief Executive Officer, Absolicon Solar Collector, Sweden; Delphine Traoré, Chief Operations Officer, Allianz Africa; Zemedeneh Negatu, Global Chairman, Fairfax Africa Fund; and Wajdi Mirghani, Executive Manager, Mahgoub Sons Group.
The World Export Development Forum 2019 is organized in partnership with: CGTN Africa; the Enhanced Integrated Framework; Ethiopian Airlines; Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations, the European Union; USAID.