The first in-person Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business Forum was recently held in Cape Town, South Africa, attracting over 1000 physical attendees and just under 2000 virtual participants. The conference was convened by the AfCFTA Secretariat under the patronage of His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and was noted as one of the biggest business events in Africa.
Representatives from Africa’s private sector, strategic investors, financial institutions, investment promotion agencies, business councils, multilateral organizations, chambers of commerce, multinational corporations, African women and youth business organizations, as well as political leadership from 63 countries across the African continent, the African diaspora, Asia, Europe, and the Americas attended the event.
The Forum featured keynote speeches from various company CEOs representing the private sector and political leadership tasked with driving Africa’s economic integration. Headline conference speakers included His Excellency, Mahamadou Issoufou, Former President of the Republic of Niger and AfCFTA Champion, the Deputy President of South Africa, Honourable Paul Mashatile, The Secretary General of AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency, Wamkele Mene, Ms. Ojiambo Sanda, Assistant Secretary General of UN Global Compact, Honourable Minister Ebrahim Minister Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of the Republic of South Africa, Her Excellency, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank, and Mr. Samaila Zubairu, President and CEO of Africa Finance Corporation.
The Forum also featured leading African and global thinkers as speakers and moderators from a wide variety of business sectors and industries, offering their perspectives on how to drive intra-African trade in the most meaningful and pragmatic manner.
The event aimed to create awareness of the current trade and investment opportunities in AfCFTA among Africa’s business community, connect businesses to funding opportunities for AfCFTA value chains, establish a private sector engagement platform for continued consultations on private sector needs in the implementation of the AfCFTA, and to promote a private sector-friendly environment, especially for Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) led by Women and Youth, to unlock more accessible and affordable trade finance opportunities.
Overall, the first in-person Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business Forum in Cape Town was a resounding success, with the private sector showing up in large numbers to demonstrate their force and conviction in driving Africa’s economic integration forward.