By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) has been postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the Government of Rwanda decided to postpone IATF2020 which was initially set to take place from 1 to 7 September this year in Kigali, Rwanda.
This decision was endorsed by the IATF2020 Advisory Council during at the sixth meeting held virtually on 26 April 2020, after careful assessment of the situation.
Afreximbank President, Benedict Oramah, said that it was not conducive to hold such an important pan African event in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic.
Professor Oramah noted that the covid-19 pandemic had forced Governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety.
“It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF,” he said in a statement.
AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, said that the postponement would allow stakeholders to focus on the urgent collective task of responding to the pandemic.
Mr Muchanga said the continent was facing an unprecedented health crisis which needed time to join efforts to also mitigate the impact of the pandemic on African economies.
“We have agreed that the second IATF needed to take place in a more favourable context to enable African countries and companies to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which will now become an element of their recovery strategy,” he said.
Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda, reiterated the commitment of her Government to the success of the trade fair.
“The reality we are confronted with today as we fight the spread of Covid-19 has prompted us to look at various factors which will undoubtedly impact African businesses and investors this year.
“In partnership with Afreximbank and the AU Commission, Rwanda is looking forward to the second IATF in 2021 to boost intra African trade, which is more than ever crucial to the development of our continent,” she said.
Olusegun Obasanjo, IATF Advisory Council Chairman and former President of Nigeria, hoped that the pandemic would soon be overcome to enable normal businesses to resume and underpin the forthcoming Trade Fair.
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU