ZIMBABWEANS, particularly youths and women, can create wealth for themselves by taking up opportunities generated by the opening up of Intra-African trade, which will benefit all the continent’s 55 countries, President Mnangagwa has said.
The Head of State made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Durban, South Africa yesterday.
Dubbed Africa’s premier trade fair, the IATF summit which runs until Sunday will see deals worth US$40 billion completed while Zimbabwe is in line to benefit from a US$40 billion fund that has been provided by the Afreximbank for the next five years to all African countries as capital for transactions that promote trade within the continent.
In his remarks at the opening session of the summit, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is set to take up opportunities under the Intra-African trade initiative.
“Zimbabwe stands ready to play its part in advancing our vision of an economically integrated continent. As such my Government continues to undertake national projects, which complement the aspirations of both our SADC region and the continent as a whole.
“The youth dividend on the continent further provides immense possibilities for accelerated employment, empowerment and wealth creation through increased production, productivity and trade. In our quest to ‘build bridges for a successful African Continental Free Trade Area’, it is imperative that the economic empowerment in our countries facilitates the requisite ecosystems to support youth start-ups and women-owned businesses,” the President said.
The IATF is part of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which seeks to create a single continental market that will unlock US$2,5 trillion in trade from the continent’s 1,2 billion population.
President Mnangagwa said AfCFTA and the IATF will make the economies of African countries grow, leading to industrial development and better standards of living for African people.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area and this Intra African Trade Fair provide huge market opportunities and prospects for stimulating industrial development, economic diversification and value chain development, among other prospects. These allow Africa to showcase the vast trade and investment opportunities existing in our different countries. The multi-pronged benefits of such platforms will undoubtedly have far reaching impacts on the improvement of the quality of life of the people of our continent.
“As member states, investors and participants, let us use this and other initiatives across our economic regional communities to vault Africa’s transformation, for the benefit of present and future generations.
“To this end, it is necessary for our African continent, to scale up investments in innovation, science and technology as well as research and development, leveraging on our various unique resource endowments and comparative advantages. The modernisation of agriculture, agro-processing, development of pharmaceuticals and mineral beneficiation, among other aspects, must remain our collective priority.”
Intra-African trade, the President noted, will ensure that the developmental phase which the continent has decided to take will leave no one behind.
“The ease of doing business must be incorporated to enhance the ability of these groups to benefit from the economic advantages associated with our Continental Free Trade Area.
“As we march towards achieving the ‘Africa We Want’, it is equally important to strengthen our resolve to realise development that ‘leaves no one and no place behind’. In this regard, the centrality of investments in skills training and capacity building cannot be overemphasised, especially in the agro sector where the majority of participants hail from rural communities.
“The modernisation and development of cross-border infrastructure projects, to facilitate Intra-African trade, is a key cog to accelerate continental integration. These projects must seek to broaden the penetration and usage of information communication technologies.”
Before returning home, President Mnangagwa toured Zimbabwean exhibition stands at the Trade Fair, as more than 30 Zimbabwean companies are showcasing their products.
In his keynote address, host President Cyril Ramaphosa said Africa must remove trade obstacles so that the continent can trade goods that it produces.
Presidents Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia also addressed the summit.
Afreximbank President Professor Benedict Oramah said the US$40 billion that the bank has pledged to grow intra-African trade will benefit all African countries and will be disbursed into over 500 banks.
The President returned home last night and was welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers, senior Government officials and service chiefs.
Speaking soon after returning home from the summit last night, President Mnangagwa described the trade fair as a huge success.
“The issue is that we are all focusing as a continent on the integration of Africa, as a continent. All member states would want to integrate. One way of learning what each country produces and exports is through the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, so that we know what products are available continentally between Africa and promote that intra-trade between ourselves. I would say it was a huge success despite the short notice, which South Africa was given to host,” he said.
The President paid tribute to Afreximbank for bankrolling the IATF, as well as ensuring that funding to support Intra-African trade will be raised within the continent.