Kenyan firms gear up for Africa's largest trade fair in Algeria

 

Afreximbank Executive Vice President Kanayo Awani and Tayeb Zitouni, Minister of Trade and Export Promotion, Algeria signs the Intra African Trade Fair deal as former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who is the chairperson of the IATF2025 Advisory Council and Algeria Prime Minister Nadir Larbaoui looks on. [Courtesy]

Kenyan firms will vie for multibillion-shilling deals at Africa's biggest trade fair to be held in Algeria in September next year.

The fourth session of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) is organised by the Pan African trade bank the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

The trade fair will take place from 4th to 10th September 2025 in the Mediterranean city of Algiers in Algeria.

According to Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, African firms are encouraged to participate as they will reap big.

She said the previous trade fair held in Cairo, Egypt saw firms directly benefit from trade and investment deals worth more than $43 billion.

Algeria will become the third country to host the IATF after Egypt hosted the inaugural edition in Cairo in 2018. The second edition was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2021 and thereafter the trade fair returned to Cairo for the 2023 edition.

“This trade fair is a meaningful backbone for trade and investment,” said Ms Awani.

“Deals of close to 43 billion dollars were closed in the previous Cairo IATF 2023. That means African buyers found new buyers. New deals were forged,” said Ms Awani.

Ms Awani said efforts by Afreximbank to boost trade through the trade fair came at a time of increasing risks for African trade from global protectionism.

“One of the objectives of the trade fair is the have African countries look to their neighbors,” said Ms Awani.

“A total of 120 billion dollars have been concluded over the last three trade fairs.”

She spoke during the signing ceremony of the hosting agreement for the IATF 2025.

The fourth Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2025) is expected to attract more than 35,000 visitors, buyers and conference delegates from all 55 African countries, the Diaspora and the rest of the world, Ms Awani added.

Algiers Minister of Trade Tayeb Zitouni said his country of more than 44 million people offers various opportunities for trade and investment which will be showcased during the trade fair.

Recent rules aimed at diversifying the Algerian economy to reduce reliance on oil and gas sales include a new investment code that came into force in 2022 and cash incentives to non-oil exporters.

For decades the oil and gas-rich Algeria had used its high energy revenues to run a top-down economy in which private or foreign investment was difficult, large sectors were reserved for the state, and entrepreneurs were stifled by bureaucracy.

“This is the first time for Algeria to sign this agreement that we have signed today and this implies more collaboration with African countries going forward,” he said.

The Algerian Government has been pushing for reforms to strengthen the private sector, boosting local businesses.

The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair was held in Cairo, Egypt, in 2018.

It was followed by the IATF2021 hosted in Durban, South Africa.

Next year’s meeting is expected to provide 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.

“This is another opportunity to continue to deepen trade ties among us,” said Ms Awani.

The Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Intra-African Trade Fair and former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo said the IATF meeting had emerged as a ‘marketplace’ and ‘go-to event’ for trade players and policymakers in Africa.

He said the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represented the fourth stage of Africa’s liberation.

“The IATF is now the foremost event of economic, social and even policy in Africa,” he said.

He said increased intra-African will end the harmful trend of African countries exporting primary goods to other continents only to import them as manufactured goods.

“This is a huge opportunity cost for the African continent which the intra-African trade fair seeks to correct. We need information about products and markets and we need to have infrastructure that will make it possible to trade more among ourselves,” he said.

“I’m sure the IATF 2025 will be bigger and better and more appreciated than all the three we’ve had so far. It will improve and make possible trader transactions between African countries and the Arab world.”

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