The third day of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) ended with a call by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for the creation of an emblematic Made-in-Africa brand that will promote intra-African trade and boost the international export of African products.
Speaking during a conversation session that marked the highlight of the day, Chief Obasanjo told the audience that having a Made-in-Africa brand would instill a sense of pride in each African country.
He said that the AfCFTA was working to remove the divisions that were brought about by colonialism, where Africa had been divided into regions based on the languages of the colonisers. According to him, the shared vision of IATF2021 participants and the traders at the Trade Fair is what will bring the AfCFTA to life.
“I have been impressed by the interaction of people at the IATF. People are working together, and this creates the environment in which miracles can happen,” Obasanjo declared.
Earlier, during a morning panel session on ‘Integrating African manufacturers into regional and global value chains’, Gwen Mwaba, Afreximbank’s Director & Global Head for Trade Finance, said that Africa had an abundance of ideas but often did not have the knowhow to convert them into viable and profitable businesses, resulting in lost intellectual property.
Describing the challenge as three-pronged, Ms. Mwaba said, “Africans have a plethora of good ideas that are not followed-up. For those that are followed up, the good ideas are not sustained; and the few good ideas that are followed-up and sustained are often not rigorously maintained.”
She suggested the use of education to address the intellectual property challenge in Africa, saying that the resulting business ideas could be harnessed and given a chance at success with the support available from Afreximbank.
Furthermore, she called for more industrial development zones in Africa, built by the public sector, where the cost of production and manufacturing was reduced, and several countries could combine their industrial strengths to meet common goals.