By Edwin Muhumuza
Economists world over have hailed Africa as an emerging market with potential for trade ,and as such there is growing interest from other countries, global conglomerates and corporations.
In Sub-Sahara alone growth is on the rise and countries that have invested in infrastructure are showing rates of 6 percent or more and others beginning to pick up from 2⅔ percent in 2017 to 3½ percent in 2018.
However most of the figures of growth indicated owe to the fact that most African countries rely heavily on imports from the West, China and India than exports, the reason for the unfair trade balance.Analysis by the African Export- Import Bank (Afreximbank) shows that one of the main reasons why intra-African trade is low at around 15% compared to Europe (59%), Asia (51%), and North America (37%) is because of lack of access to trade and market information.
In Uganda, the country mostly exports agricultural products (80 percent of total exports). the most important exports is coffee (22 percent of total exports) followed by tea, cotton, copper, oil and fish. Uganda’s main export partners are Sudan (15 percent), Kenya (10 percent), DR Congo, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and UAE according to statistics from the Uganda Export Promotion Board, a partner of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair.
To address this challenge, Afreximbank decided to, among other initiatives, convene the Intra-African Trade Fair every two years to provide trade and market information and connect buyers and sellers from across the continent.Executive Vice President, and in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking, AfreximBank Amr Kamel, says that the Intra-African Trade Fair is the first of its kind in Africa, consisting of a 7-day trade show that provides a platform for sharing trade, investment and market information and enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals. It provides an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their goods and services, engage in Business to Business (B2B) exchanges and conclude business deals.
However, Secretary General, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry ,Charles Oleny Ojok, noted that the business community was reluctant in the search for information, adding that consumers across the globe and continent have become complicated and exporters must improve at producing world class products.
African leaders held an Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from 17-21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and so the IATF provides a platform for entry into a single market of over one billion people joined together under the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Stephen Kauma, Afreximbank’s Director and Global Head for Human Resources says that The Trade Fair will contribute towards the bank’s objective to increase intra-African trade from USD170 billion in 2014 to USD 250 billion and by so doing, ensure that intra-African trade share of Africa’s total trade reaches 22% by 2021.