World Export Development Forum creates contacts, partnerships through its matchmaking service
ITC brings entrepreneurs and investors together to show potential reach of recent trade accord
In November 2019 the International Trade Centre (ITC) held its flagship annual event, the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Neither the time nor the place was an accident.
Traders and entrepreneurs in Africa and beyond are hungry for information about the next phases of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The event – coordinated with Africa Industrialization Week – drew together ITC’s SheTrades Global conference and the YES Forum on youth employment to highlight our focus on women and youth.
A distinct feature of the WEDF is its business-to-business matchmaking service, where companies that have something to offer each other can get together and explore deals.
Nearly 200 companies from 27 countries, including 173 international firms, conducted more than 1,000 bilateral meetings in just two days. Among them was a company from India that produces liquor from cassava that met a reliable partner to set up a distillation plant in Nigeria and export the liquor to Asian markets, adding value to a basic crop to increase value and farmers’ incomes.
Another meeting put a Tanzanian exporter of cardamom, pulses and edible nuts that cannot meet their current client’s quality and sanitary demands because of poor post-harvest handling in touch with an Indian company to set up a contract sterilization and drying facility. This will allow the Tanzanian company to export more of its organic products at a premium price directly to Europe.
Then there was the case of a Ghanaian food supplier that found a Kenyan manufacturer of ice cream, fresh juices and pastries wishing to import their frozen pineapple and mango chunks. Altogether 36 companies reported striking deals ranging in worth from $5.8 million to $14.4 million.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the ITC Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa (PIGA) project held a dialogue on Ethiopia’s potential to become the world’s next textile supply base. More than 100 international buyers, potential investors and representatives of Ethiopian institutions came and the meeting was followed by field visits.
The event also enabled PIGA to make progress on three investment projects in the textile sector. Worth approximately $100 million and with the potential to create 10,000 jobs, mostly for young women, they are expected to materialize in 2020.
The ITC Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) programme also helped conclude deals with a potential investment pipeline worth about $5 million. Specific deals spanned agri-equipment for harvesting and submersible pumps; a sterilization plant; chemicals and pigments; and agriproducts including oilseeds, edible oil, honey and spices. One company is also opening a representative office in Addis Ababa.