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Zim business execs attend Intra-African Trade Fair

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ZIMBABWEAN business executives based in South Africa were in Durban last night for the signing of an Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) hosting agreement between the African Export-Import (Afreximbank), KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to pave way for the second IATF event in the coastal city in November.

Among those who attended last night’s function were Nyanza Light Metals chief executive Donovan Chimhandamba (pictured right) , who is also Diaspora Infrastructure Group chairman, Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Nyanza, a chemical manufacturing company established in 2011 by Zimbabweans businesspeople and the South African government, is in the process of building an 80 000 tons per annum titanium dioxide pigment manufacturing plant in the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, 170 kilometres north of Durban.

Titanium dioxide pigment, a US$20 bn a year market, is a fine white powder used to provide whiteness and opacity in the manufacturing of products such as paints, industrial coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (that is pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes. The R4.5 billion project is being funded by Afreximbank and South Africa’s Trade and Industry ministry.

Afreximbank initially put US$2 million into the undertaking. Chimhandamba said the Nyanza project is a good example on intra-Africa trade investment and cooperation. The second (IATF2021) has been rescheduled to take place in Durban from 15 November to 21 November. The trade fair was previously set for Kigali, Rwanda, from 8 December to 14 December.

The decision to move the trade fair to Durban was made by the Advisory Council of IATF2021 at its 10th meeting held virtually on 25 May.

This decision was arrived at after formal consultations with Rwanda who indicated that logistical constraints related to the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely affected the progress of construction of a new facility to host the event. Commenting on the decision, Obasanjo, IATF2021 Advisory Council chairman, commended Rwanda, Afreximbank, the AU, the AfCFTA secretariat and all IATF stakeholders for showing great resilience in adapting to the uncertain environment arising from the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

“We have once again been able to shoulder the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is affecting all sectors worldwide and forcing governments, corporates and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety and keep economies running,” Obasanjo said.

“Relocating IATF2021 to Durban saves us time on the calendar and will enable African countries and corporates, as part of their recovery strategy, to take full advantage of the trade fair, which is also an important component of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement under which trading commenced this year.

“Having undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the measures that are being taken by the AU and Afreximbank under the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, as well as other initiatives to procure vaccines for the continent, we believe that a significant number of people would have been vaccinated by November and this will allow us to have a successful event. We will continue working with the Government of South Africa to ensure that all the Covid-19 measures are complied with during the trade fair as the safety of both residents and visitors is paramount.

“We congratulate the government of the Republic of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and thank them for the swift efforts that are being made to ensure that IATF2021 safely accommodates the growing number of participating governments, exhibitors, buyers, conference delegates, and visitors that have confirmed their participation in the event.”

Welcoming the conference, Zikalala said: “As KwaZulu-Natal, we are honoured to host this important gathering of the world as we implement our own Economic Reconstruction, Recovery and Transformation Plan. Our approach is to carefully balance the protection of lives against promoting and sustaining livelihoods. “Based on plans announced by our President Cyril Ramaphosa on rolling out the Covid-19 vaccination programme in South Africa, we will be ready in November to host our brothers and sisters in Durban for this Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021).

“We look forward to welcoming the delegates to the trade fair. This gathering is one of the most significant strategic interventions to remind us of our interconnectedness, and of the urgent need to promote intra-Africa trade to reignite economic opportunities and create much-needed jobs for all our people. In this regard we applaud the IATF2021 Advisory Council under the leadership of former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for this bold decision, as we soldier forward to a better Africa for all.” — STAFF WRITER.

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