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Source21 COMESA International Trade Fair 2019 | Enhancing intra-regional trade and competitiveness of Africa

The Source21 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) International Trade Fair & high-level business summit kickstarted on Wednesday 17th July 2019 at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi.

The event gathering heads of states, policymakers, regional and international business leaders ushered in strong commitment to enhance intra-regional trade and competitiveness of Africa.

Themed “The Hallmark of Quality”, the business summit served as a platform for strengthening regional integration, promoting cross-border trade, empowering the women, youth and entrepreneurs as well as improving the financial literacy to propel Africa’s development and growth.

The opening ceremony was graced by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya who has highlighted that the strong presence of member states in this event signifies the individual and collective commitment to COMESA. As Africa is making tremendous strides to embrace the movement towards a borderless territory under the AfCFTA, significant opportunities will be created for the business community. 

The President also encouraged the member states “to come up with innovative & practical strategies to promote industrialization and enhance trade in the region”.

Speaking during the Presidential Public Private Roundtable, H.E. Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, President, Republic of Mauritius stressed the importance of harnessing the power of SMEs by strengthening their inclusion within the value chains across the continent.  The SMEs are a critical force to propel regional and continental integration. To leverage on SMEs for economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and entrepreneurship, the President emphasized the significance of improving the business climate by eliminating barriers to investment and trade, facilitate access to finance and the introduction of flexible measures in fiscality.

Mr. Azim Currimjee, Vice Chairman of the Economic Development Board has participated in the panel discussion themed “Building African Brands- Integrating the African market through compliance with standards and quality products” on 17th July 2019. 

In the Industry Roundtable on Internationalizing African Brands, Mr. Currimjee presented the favourable ecosystem built on solid policies and the right infrastructure which facilitates manufacturing of quality products in Mauritius.  The Vice Chairman outlined the interplay between global and foreign brands and their dynamics on the economy.  The introduction of foreign brands may raise the awareness of local companies on how to build their own brands.

In this context, to promote the free movement of goods, services, knowhow and people, COMESA should focus on the following areas:

  • Harmonisation of Standards
  • Flexible rules of origins
  • Intellectual Property Act that will promote innovation and investment in capacity building
  • Connectivity
  • Access to finance

Mr. Vinay Guddye, Head of Africa Strategy at the Economic Development Board joined the panel discussion themed “Smart Cities are good for business – Consumer trends towards sustainability. A complementarity-Smart and Sustainable Cities and Business”. He underscored that it is paramount to foster inclusive and sustainable development through smart cities and smart agriculture.  Mr. Guddye stressed that technology is making significant strides in revolutionizing the agricultural sector into a modern and smart cluster.  Accordingly, Africa should embrace agro-technology to increase yield, profitability and reduce poverty in Africa.  Smart Agriculture will play a significant role in addressing the food security and responding to the market demand for high productivity and sustainability through solutions that are safer, cleaner, affordable and meeting quality requirements.