The African Export-Import Bank, Afreximbank, the African Union, AU, and the Government of Rwanda have postponed by one year the second Intra-African Trade Fair, IATF2020, scheduled for September 1 to 7, in Kigali.
A statement on Wednesday by Amadou Sall, Afreximbank’s Spokesman, quoted the bank’s President, Prof. Benedict Oramah, as saying the shift was in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Oramah said the decision was endorsed by the IATF2020 Advisory Council during its sixth meeting held virtually on April 26.
The biennial trade fair is organised annually by Afreximbank in collaboration with the AU.
The fair provides a platform for entry into a single market of over 1.2 billion people joined together by the African Continental Free Trade Area, serving as a marketplace for showcasing goods and services for global buyers and sellers.
It enables 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, among others.
According to Mr Oramah, the second IATF will still be hosted by the Government of Rwanda in 2021 from September 6 to 12.
He said that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic situation was not conducive to holding such an important pan African event which was initially scheduled to take place in just four months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety,” he said.
“It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF.”
Amb. Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union, said the postponement would allow stakeholders to focus on the urgent collective task of responding to the pandemic.
“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis. This is the time to join efforts to also mitigate the impact of the pandemic on African economies.
“We have agreed that the second IATF needed to take place in a more favourable context to enable African countries and companies to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which will now become an element of their recovery strategy,” Mr Muchanga said.
Soraya Hakuziyaremye, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda, reiterated the commitment of the government of Rwanda to the success of the trade fair.
“The reality we are confronted with today as we fight the spread of Covid-19 has prompted us to look at various factors which will undoubtedly impact African businesses and investors this year.
“In partnership with Afreximbank and the AU Commission, Rwanda is looking forward to the second IATF in 2021 to boost intra African trade, which is more than ever crucial to the development of our continent,” Mr Hakuziyaremye said.