Ministry of Trade has said Malawi’s main objective at this year’s Intra African Trade Fair which kicked off on November 7 in Cairo, Egypt, is to promote bankable investment opportunities available in the country.
In a statement released this week ahead of the IATF 2023, the ministry alongside the Malawi Investment Trade Centre (Mitc) said the country will further use the Cairo trade fair to enhance market identification for ‘Made in Malawi’ products and services.
Reads the statement in part: “Since Malawi is participating, the Malawi Mission in Cairo is already in contact with Egyptian Government institutions such as the General Authority for Investment and the Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Professions, Egyptian African Businessmen Association, and Egyptian Tourism Federation and many investors to link them with Malawi institutions and investors for possible business deals.”
Locally, Mitc has been mandated to coordinate Malawi’s participation at the fair which has been organised by Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with African Union Commission and AfCFTA secretariat.
Mitc said it is expected that while meeting with potential investors, more knowledge about Malawi will be shared and that the trade fair will provide space to make a case for Malawi as a prime destination for business and investment.
“The Malawi Mission has already identified prospective investors, financiers, buyers and distributors of Malawian key products some of whose samples have been provided.
“The mission is, therefore, calling upon Malawian companies to get in touch with the Malawi Investments and Trade Centre for more details regarding registration and participation at this event,” the statement further reads.
Briefing the media in Lilongwe last Monday, Secretary for Trade Christina Zakeyu said already 30 local firms have expressed interest to participate at the fair which seeks to attract international public and private investment by showcasing and discussing trade and investment opportunities available on the African continent.
Zakeyu said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has opened vast regional trade opportunities, as it has created a unified market with over 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.
She, therefore, said, as a country, Malawi needs to be strategic on how best it can exploit the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA agreement at the trade fair.
Zakeyu said: “Having access to the integrated African market under the AfCFTA allows us to expand our export destinations beyond the traditional markets.
“Therefore, IATF 2023 is a perfect platform for us. If we are strategic enough, this event has the potential to open doors for increased exports.
Speaking during a recent IATF Business Roadshow to promote the fair, Afreximbank president and chairperson of the board Professor Benedict Oramah said the IATF was created to fast-track Africa’s economic integration through the AfCFTA.
He added that “The biggest challenge on the continent is the lack of trade and market information of what exists within the continent.”
He said this can be traced to the colonial era where Africa was divided into 55 domestic countries that had and continues to have very limited linkages with themselves.
“One way of dealing with this is creating a platform like IATF, where Africans can gather to understand their markets, know themselves and understand more about the African countries.
“Egypt has been a major beneficiary of the IATF. At the first trade fair in 2018, which was held in Cairo, Egypt signed the largest share of deals out of the $32 billion worth of trade and investment deals closed at the Trade Fair,” Oramah said.
Over 1 600 exhibitors are expected to attend the Egypt seven-day showcase.
The last IATF was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2021 when Malawi came back with over $1 billion worth of investment and export deals.