Durban, November 15, 2021 – A total of forty-eight Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from Ghana are participating in the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021, which commenced on Monday in Durban, South Africa.
The one-week fair, organized by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement secretariat, carries the theme “Building Bridges for a Successful AfCFTA” and aims to provide a platform for networking, trade facilitation, and investment opportunities, enabling investors to forge business deals.
Out of the participating companies, thirty specialize in value-added products, nine are involved in agribusiness, and nine focus on processed foods. The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) facilitated their presence at the fair.
Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, the Chief Executive Officer of GEPA and IATF Ambassador, highlighted the significance of the event for SMEs, emphasizing that IATF offers opportunities to access business platforms encompassing approximately 1.2 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product exceeding US$3 trillion.
Dr. Asare emphasized that the fair provides an ideal opportunity for businesses to tap into the African market, recognizing the potential of these enterprises to generate employment opportunities for Africa's youth. She expressed optimism that the fair would contribute to reducing trade barriers across the continent.
Ms. Sharron Senyo Boccorh, the Chief Executive Officer of Vashty Fashion Line, one of the exhibitors, noted that while visits to her booth had been relatively slow, she anticipated an improvement in the coming days.
She attributed the initial sluggishness to challenges with accreditation due to the high number of visitors attending the fair. Vashty Fashion Line, established in 2004, combines denim with African prints to create various clothing designs.
Another exhibitor, Mr. Kwabena Danso, a bamboo bicycle frame manufacturer, reported that several businesses had shown interest in his environmentally friendly and lightweight products, which enhance the quality of riding.
However, he highlighted challenges such as limited access to credit facilities, electricity supply instability, and an unfavorable work attitude among employees that affect his business operations.
The IATF serves as a valuable platform for Ghanaian SMEs to showcase their products, establish connections, and explore potential trade opportunities within Africa.