Oando PLC, (referred to as “the Company” or “Oando”), Africa’s leading indigenous energy solutions provider, listed on both the Nigerian and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, participated as a key sponsor of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 in Durban, South Africa which held from November 15 – 21.
Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) is an initiative that supports the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), heralding what will be the biggest free trade area globally. The signing of the AfCFTA agreement opened the doorway for increased intra-African trade and enhanced the continent’s appeal for prospective investors. The Trade Fair organized by AfreximBank in collaboration with the African Union marks an important step to sustainably address the gap in trade and market information for the successful realization of the AfCFTA objectives.
The Group Chief Executive (GCE), Oando PLC, Adewale Tinubu spoke at the High-Level Public-Private Sector Roundtable themed: Aligning the interests of government and the private sector on intra-African trade and Investment, alongside H.E. Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union; Akin Dada, Group Executive, Corporate and Investment Bank, Ecobank Group; H.E. Mrs. Nevein Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, Arab Republic of Egypt; and H.E. Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).
Speaking on the panel, the GCE explained that public-private partnership in Nigeria has solid support from the government. He said: “When we wanted to create indigenous success stories – an enabling environment was provided for us via local context and access to opportunities. We were able to create a collaborative approach by creating policies that worked without ruling out opportunities. For example, we built extensive gas pipelines within the country, and we had the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) set up appropriate financial structures. I believe the same principles apply on a continental scale.”
The session further discussed the initiatives, policies and actions required by governments and the private sector to achieve the priority objectives. This includes Public-Private Partnerships, the role of Development Finance Institutions and Export Credit Agencies in targeting investments and projects that will have maximum impact on Africa’s growth – address structural imbalances as well as trade and employment creation, address the importance of having private sector input in policy discussions aimed at creating the necessary business-enabling environment.
The event which had in attendance the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; amongst others, focused on the newly-launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aimed at boosting trade and investment. At the beginning of this year, African countries officially began trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. Economists say the trade zone could lift tens of millions out of poverty over the next 15 years.
In a panel session themed, Optimising the gains of the AfCFTA in the context of the fourth industrial revolution, Dr. Ainojie Irune, Chief Operating Officer, Oando Energy Resources, highlighted that re-skilling and educations of the future workforce is critical to creating the much-needed foundation to ensure Africa isn’t left behind. The panel discussed the policy and regulatory framework required to develop digital ecosystems, that will encourage significant economic growth and development in Africa. He spoke alongside Ms. Shamira Ahmed, Trade Specialist, and Senior Economist, Research ICT Africa; Hon. Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of South Africa; Mr. Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO, MFS Africa; Dr. Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist and Director, Research and International Cooperation, Afreximbank.
Digitalisation and its attendant disruptive technologies are fundamentally changing existing business models, production processes, value chains, skills development and trade across the world. With the AfCFTA forecast to increase intra-African trade from its current 16% to as much as 50% by 2040, digitalisation can play a catalytic role in unlocking intra-African trade, to enhance regional integration and reduce the dependence on commodities by increasing diversification into new and value-added products and play a major role in trade facilitation.
The GCE delivered a keynote address at the ambassador dinner. He explained that he was encouraged by the attendance of many government delegates and Heads of State, their presence signified not only their support of the event but the importance of intra-African trade and collaboration across the continent.
He said: ‘’I commend Afrexim Bank for orchestrating this much-needed discourse and for leading the change to ensure development and inclusive growth on the continent. As we all, Africa has enormous potential and the attendance at IATF2021 reinforced that we share a collective vision for the continent’’.
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