Closing remarks by the ITC Executive Director at the World Export Development Forum 2014
Delivered on 17 September 2014 at the closing session of the World Export Development Forum, Kigali, Rwanda.
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Thank you Ambassador Ndayiragije, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Burundi to the United Nations Office and other international Organizations in Geneva for your insightful summary.
And thank you Francis Gatare, CEO of the RDB for the excellent partnership. You and indeed Rwanda should be proud of the manner in which you have organised this Forum with the ITC. I think the RDB and the people of Rwanda deserve an applause.
I would like to highlight a few facts concerning this WEDF.
There are many ‘firsts’
- This is the first- ever WEDF held in Africa.
- This is the first WEDF in a landlocked, small economy. We are particularly happy to have organized WEDF in Rwanda- a country that has placed trade and support for the private sector at the heart of it's development policy.
There is no better place to have organised an event focused on SME competitiveness than in Rwanda.
- This WEDF has seen the biggest participation ever, with over 1200 registered participants from over 70 countries.
- We have seen the dynamism and synergies of South-South partners at this WEDF, including from China, India, Brazil and Turkey who have been here to talk business and do business with Africa. This reflects the reality of trade today where the value of South-South trade continues to increase year on year.
We have been honored to have this WEDF opened by the President of Rwanda and to have had the First Lady of Ethiopia address the WVEF. Privilege to host ministers from Uganda, Seychelles, Niger and Gambia. This shows commitment and sends a strong signal that Africa is committed to trade led development which places the rights of people- especially women- at it's heart.Achievements
We take pride in ITC being a nimble organization with a hands-on approach working with SMEs to address constraints relating to internationalization. We are about results. We are about impact. We are not about just talking. We are about doing!
We committed ourselves to have a WEDF which is about talking business, and doing business. And together, we have done just this.
Rwanda is a priority country for the ITC and this week we have shown this commitment:
- this week ITC signed an agreement with One UN Rwanda, to focus on promoting trade among youth and women-owned SMEs.
- ITC has already committed to work with Rwanda to train 200 enterprises before the year’s end and a Rwandan fashion designer will be integrated within our Ethical Fashion programme.
- Gahaya Links, a well-established Rwandan company selling home and fashion accessories, has just joined the Global Platform for Action and by doing so will create training and market opportunities for over 300 women.
And it is not just ITC that has used this occasion to cement collaboration with Rwanda. The World Bank is in discussions with the government and the UNWTO is in consultation with the authorities around possible signature to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET).
With relation to the women vendors forum which was held back to back with the WEDF for the first time:
- We launched an initiative to source public procurement from women vendors, with commitment from multinationals and from UN Women. I was very pleased that the Minister of Trade and industry of Uganda pledged to be the first to implement this initiative in Africa.
- The Dutch Good Growth Fund signed a letter of intent to explore opportunities to provide credit lines to Covenant Bank for Women in Tanzania, a bank with 15,000 bank accounts.
- The Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum served over 1100 cups of coffee from eight origin countries and held some 500 B2B meetings with 44 letters of intent to do business of around $5.5 million dollars in deals. It is also the links we have created that we hope we continue in the future.
One example of this was a letter of intent signed between Brazil Braska and Crown Beverages worth over US$ 1 million to supply machinery from Brazil for a new production plant in Uganda.
And more broadly:
- There has been innovative cross-fertilization in a deal bringing together 8 companies: a Brazilian buyer will sell tour packages that bring tourists to Africa to sample coffee, eco-tourism, Nollywood, fashion and more.
- WEDF impromptu business networking sessions saw over 100 enterprises generating business transactions in six promising sectors, with 47 new business leads that are being pursued.
ITC will launch an online matchmaking platform to continue the good work started here.
On training and mentoring:
- We have launched a new online SME academy available free to businesses in developing countries to provide valuable export insights and training.
- Over these days, we’ve also seen offers of training and mentoring emerge. Kosgeb Turkey offered to train African governments at no charge on developing incubators, an area in which it has extensive expertise.
The Mara Group has offered its free online app to be used by Africans who seek mentors and peer-to-peer networking across Africa and ITC will be discussing with the Mara group to increase efforts to mentor entrepreneurs across the globe.
And the Indian government encouraged African business people to take advantage of its sponsored training facilities.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of the networking and business deals that we have been able to capture and share with you during this forum. Please keep updating us on the leads started here in Kigali.
Ambassador Ndayiragije has already given us an excellent summary of the discussions and recommendations that emanated from various sessions of the WEDF.
We are extremely pleased to hear especially from SME participants that adding value to trade must be the priority moving forward.
They are therefore giving more attention to issues like branding, impact investment, e-commerce, trade in services, acquisition of new technologies and complying with quality and sustainability standards- all of which are important elements in helping SMEs to add value to their goods and services.
The private sector has also become more vocal on policy issues such as trade facilitation and addressing non-tariff barriers. They are encouraging their governments to create more conducive business environments and broadening the dialogue to ensure that their priorities feature in government policy.
Moving forward ITC intends to strengthen the partnership with SMEs to address these issues and help them- help you- to internationalise. We are committed to focusing on deliverables. We are committed to results. We are committed to trade impact for good.
As I close I am very pleased to announce that WEDF 2015 will take place in Doha, Qatar, in partnership with QDB-TASDEER, the export development arm of the Qatari Development Bank. I welcome this and hope to welcome you all there in 2015.
A final note of thanks. Thank you again to all who have made this Conference possible:
Mr Francis Gatare, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, and all of the staff of RDB; Minister Kaninmba, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda; our distinguished speakers; my team at ITC; and each of you, for your time and contributions.
I also wish to place on record our sincere thanks to One UN Rwanda; the Confederation of Indian Industry; the Overseas Infrastructure Alliance of India; RwandAir; and TradeMark East Africa for sponsoring this forum.
In closing I wish to thank HE President Kagame for hosting us in this most beautiful country.