More than 1,000 participants from over 100 countries convene in Addis Ababa for the 19th World Export Development Forum
· The theme of the meeting is Trade and Invest in One Africa, and is organized in conjunction with Africa Industrialization Week
· For more information, please visit www.intracen.org/WEDF
Inclusive economic growth across Africa hinges on ensuring greater value addition in manufacturing, agriculture and services. The successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will be critical to ensuring this. That was the message from public and private sector leaders at the opening of the 19th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 20 November. The opening of WEDF 2019 coincided with the 30th anniversary of Africa Industrialization Day reaffirming the event’s focus on addressing key priorities of the African continent.
Opening the event, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde said: ‘It is high time to expedite [of the African Continental Free Trade Area] implementation in order to unleash a complementary economic ecosystem among African nations’.
‘It is imperative we leverage the collective market size that we have as a continent,’ she said. ‘By creating a complementary economic system, we will be able to reap the full potential of our respective nations and become a major player in the international trade arena.’
Co-hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, the meeting brings together more than 1,000 business leaders, policymakers, and young entrepreneurs from across Africa and beyond to better exploit the opportunities for growth through trade.
ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘There is a need to create and add more value to Africa’s economies, to ensure growth and better sharing of increased prosperity. For this to happen more goods and services need to be made in Africa and more trade needs to happen between countries across the continent’.
‘Manufacturing is a very important part of the value addition story, but its only one part. The goal must now be to achieve greater value addition and competitiveness across the board: in industry but also in agriculture and agro-processing and services,’ she said.
Ms. González added that for Africa to climb the value-addition ladder there is a need for better trade data and intelligence; investment facilitation measures; investment in the digital economy; and new skills and expertise.
‘This multiplicity of action areas means that policy coherence is the name of the game. All parts of the mechanism must work together,’ Ms. González said.
Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, called for the creation of a more enabling environment to boost access to finance, competitiveness and innovation. He said: ‘The key drivers of industrialization will be the private sector. Mindful of this; we are providing a large market space through the African Continental Free Trade Area hence the theme: Positioning African Industry to Supply the AfCFTA Market’.
‘Moving forward, we now need to focus on the development of industrial statistics that cover all African countries. The data will give us evidence of what is going on at the enterprise, national and continental levels’.
Taking place at the African Union headquarters during Africa Industrialization Week, sessions at WEDF on 21-22 November will explore topics such as investing in value addition, addressing the skills mismatch, producing sustainable packaging and much more.
A key focus will be placed on the African Continental Free Trade Area and how this can fulfil its promise of unlocking Africa’s economic growth potential. According to ITC data, removing tariffs across the continent could add 13% to intra-African trade.
Also opening today in Addis Ababa was the second edition of the Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-employment Forum (YES), which placed further accent on young people in trade. 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 also features 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, Executive Secretariat for the Enhanced Integrated Framework; Hoonmin Lim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Ethiopia; Frank Matsaert, Chief Executive Officer, TradeMark East Africa; Afua Asabea Asare, CEO, Ghana Exports Promotion Authority and Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission on Africa.
Representatives from the private sector include: Tewolde GebreMariam, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines; Israr Ahmed Mecca, 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 Technologies, 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; 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.