Economy Uncensored with Tapiwanashe Mangwiro
It was a week of African business with the Intra-Africa Trade Fair 2023 taking place in Cairo, Egypt and it is the backbone of the continent’s thrust to further the one continent market.
Zimbabwe participated at the fair with some businesses clinching notable deals and some SMEs going to just learn about how others are going about their business.
The country was mainly represented by the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency and ZimTrade.
IATF2023, which is Africa’s largest trade and investment fair started on November 9 and ran up until November 15. It is estimated that it attracted over 1 600 exhibitors and 35 000 visitors, with trade and investment deals worth US$43 billion said to have been concluded during the event.
The IATF is organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) is intended to provide a unique platform for facilitating trade and investment information exchange in support of increased intra-African trade and investment, especially in the context of implementing the AfCFTA.
IATF brings together continental and global players to showcase and exhibit their goods and services and to explore business and investment opportunities in the continent.
It also provides a platform to share trade, investment and market information with stakeholders and allows participants to discuss and identify solutions to the challenges confronting intra-African trade and investment.
In addition to African participants, the Trade Fair is also open to businesses and investors from non-African countries interested in doing business in Africa and in supporting the continent’s transformation through industrialisation and export development.
Three notable deals were signed during the fair including the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s US$2 billion for the framework agreement for the Export Agriculture for Food Security (ExAFS) along with other countries.
Property developer Exodus & Company secured a seven-year US$141 million facility from Afreximbank to develop land for industrial and residential projects.
Afreximbank also signed a term sheet worth US$40 million with Central African Building Society (CABS) in order to bolster local productive sectors particularly agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
Resultantly, the company stands at the forefront of Africa’s drive for continental integration, reaping the benefits of intra-continental trade.
As neighbouring nations collaborate, trade agreements gain traction, and long-standing barriers dissipate, then the nation’s agricultural products and minerals find new markets.
The dismantling of political, economic and regulatory obstacles necessitates a trans-regional focus for financial institutions.
Positioned centrally in Southern Africa, the country plays a pivotal role in transporting goods, making it a key player in the unfolding narrative of intra-Africa trade.
The surge in economic activity across the continent, driven by initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, presents opportunities and challenges.
As a result, local institutions must align with this changing landscape, employing competitive strategies to leverage emerging prospects. What I advocate for is a consulting and supportive role, urging institutions to tap into their insights, expertise, and presence in African markets.
This approach facilitates a smooth transition for local businesses, transforming them into substantial players with a growing African footprint.
As Zimbabwean companies explore markets beyond their borders, support becomes crucial. Whether in the form of trade information, market intelligence, regulatory guidance, or introductions to local partners, these services aid the expansion into new territories.
The integration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) contributes to the ease of market expansion for Zimbabwe, while the continental reach of AfCFTA accelerates the unification of trading blocs.
The path into Africa is wide and inviting, with South Africa, including Zimbabwe, being a key player due to mature market sectors and experienced corporate leaders seeking new ventures.
Local economic challenges, such as load-shedding and competitive market sectors, drive the interest of Zimbabwean companies in northern markets. Trans-regional clients seek a full-service continental bank to navigate the complexities of diverse markets seamlessly.
For Zimbabwean institutions to be the “go-to” business banks on the continent, a keen focus on relationship building, service optimisation, and risk management is essential.
Tapiwanashe Mangwiro is a resident economist with the Business Weekly and writes this in his own capacity. @willoe_tee on twitter, Tapiwanashe Willoe Mangwiro on LinkedIn and [email protected]