KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 must inspire African youth to lead in innovation and in accelerating the entrepreneurial revolution.

Speaking at the opening of Intra-African Trade Fair, currently underway at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, Zikalala said the IATF 2021 is a golden opportunity for Africans to unite, collaborate, and give the best they have to support the continent to become the tree of life, as contemplated in the African Union (AU) anthem.

Zikalala said there is no doubt that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement will be a game changer for stimulating intra-African trade and boosting intra-African exports.

“This IATF2021 must be remembered as a marketplace of ideas, an occasion of sharing experiences, and an affair of making business connections and concluding concrete trade deals,” Zikalala said.

He called on Africans in the diaspora to learn from one another on how they can grow intra-Africa trade and diversify their economies, and also learn from the economic growth story of East African economies fuelled by countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.

“The growth of any African country is intertwined with the development of the rest. It is intertwined and inseparable. African countries must stop thinking that they will survive on crumbs of colonialism and try to define themselves individually at the expense of others.

“As KwaZulu-Natal, we are inspired to host this historic Trade Fair, for we believe it will enhance trade within the continent and build production capacity. We must end a colonial legacy where Africa’s raw minerals continue to enrich advanced and industrialised countries while the continent remains poor,” the Premier said.

KwaZulu-Natal Export Strategy

Meanwhile, Zikalala reported that the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has adopted the KZN Export Strategy and Implementation Plan, which aims to maximise on the trade opportunities that are embedded, as part of AfCFTA.

He said the strategy has identified the top 20 products with the potential to be exported to the continent.

“It has mapped-out the applicable products to at least 21 African countries with huge export potential. We appreciate the interest shown by the African Export-Import Bank (Afremixbank) to support the province’s economic growth trajectory which has led to KZN to sign a memorandum of Understanding with the bank,” Zikalala said.

Accelerating inclusive economic growth

In the midst of the economic devastation brought about by the Coronavirus, the provincial government has crafted the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Reconstruction and Transformation Plan that promotes Public-Private Partnership to accelerate inclusive economic growth and create employment.

The plan has identified priority sectors, including agriculture and agro-processing; clothing and textiles; creative industries; finance and services; Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), information and communications technology and innovation; health innovation and manufacturing; infrastructure development (Water, Energy and Sanitation); manufacturing (Automotive, paper and pulp); oceans economy and tourism, to attract investments and drive exports.

“Our province has a simple message to IATF2021. KwaZulu-Natal is open for business!” said the Premier.

Source: South African Government News Agency