LOCATION: London, United Kingdom
DATE: September 19th, 2019.
THEME: Intra-African Trade: Beyond Rhetoric and Political Commitments

RATIONALE

The debate on the benefits of intra-African trade has indeed been prominent in the last decade. There is a consensus among experts that intra-African trade has the greatest potential for building sustainable economic growth and regional integration on the continent as higher volumes of trade among countries in the continent will provide access to bigger markets, new opportunities and a larger pool of human capital.

Needless to say, Africa is however yet to reach its full potential in terms of intra-regional trade. In 2016, intra-African exports hovered around 18 per cent, compared to 59 for intra-Asia, 69 per cent for intra-Europe exports, and 35 for Latin America. In the same vein, trade between African countries accounts for only 7 per cent of the continent’s GDP according to the available statistics.

African countries over the years have adopted a number of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) intended to promote trade among themselves, such as the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Right to Residence and Right to Establishment, as well as the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which is a flagship initiative of the African Union AU Agenda 2063, adopted to create a single unified air transport market, to liberalize civil aviation in the region, improve intra-African air connectivity, catalyze the economic transformation of the continent,  and enhance the impact of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s “No Country Left Behind” programme aimed at driving the sustainability and benefits of aviation in all global regions including Africa.

SAATM which models the European Single Air Transport Market and the liberalized air transport markets in Latin America (Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil), is key to opening and connecting Africa’s markets, facilitating trade and enabling African firms to link into global supply chains, as a survey by IATA suggest that if just 12 key African countries opened their markets and increased connectivity an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries.

Relatedly, African leaders in an Extraordinary Summit in Rwanda in 2018 adopted the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is set for immediate implementation as the minimum number of 22 countries required to ratify the agreement has been met with the recent ratification made by the Gambian parliament. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) exceeds that of a traditional free trade area as it brings together all 55 African Union member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion, with a commitment to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, progressively liberalizing trade in services, and addressing a host of other non-tariff barriers.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says that If all 55 African countries join a free trade area, it will be the world’s largest by number of countries since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), covering more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion, estimating that AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent by 2020.

However, Africa’s significant drive towards intra-African trade comes at a time when the benefits of intra-trade are actively contested. The world is currently witnessing an unprecedented movement, such as the process of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), in which global powers that traditionally promoted intra-trade as a crucial driver of growth are now calling into question the very tenets of same. In the same vein, it is pertinent to note that experts and key stakeholders have also raised concerns that threaten the implementation and realization of the benefits of AfCFTA and other complementary initiatives in the continent.

For instance, Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of UN, opined that poor infrastructure across the continent is one major barrier to development and trade in Africa and is likely to be a challenge in implementing AfCFTA. Songwe also said that the agreement may also pose challenges for governments in promoting competition in local markets as some local companies that are taking advantage of economies of scale may grow faster than others and capture dominant positions in markets. Also, Louise Mushikiwabo, chairperson of the AU Executive Council and Rwandan foreign minister, says “if African countries want to significantly increase intra-African trade, they must address practical issues such as streamlining regulations, improving access to finance by the private sector, infrastructure networks and simplification of customs processes”.

In light of this, the African Leadership magazine in conjunction with the African Leadership UK Limited and the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD), presents The 3RD INVEST IN AFRICA SUMMIT – LONDON 2019, to bring together the divergent views and thoughts, as well as insights and practical experiences of Think-Tanks, Experts, Academics, Researchers and Research scholars, Business and Political Leaders, as well as Key Stakeholders on issues relating to intra-African trade and regional integration as well as an approach to realizing the benefits and addressing the challenges of intra-African trade.

With the theme set as: Intra-African Trade: Beyond Rhetoric and Political Commitment, the 3rd Edition of the Invest in African Summit- London 2019, is an important and a timely contribution to the on-going debate on the benefits of intra-regional trade and the realization of the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and other RTAs in the continent.

THE SUMMIT WILL THEREFORE REALIZE THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIVES:

  • Bring together Think-Tanks, Experts, Academics, Researchers and Research scholars, Business and Political Leaders, as well as Key Stakeholders from across Africa, United States, and Europe, under one roof, to connect with another, thereby building bridges, partnerships and collaborations, as well as fostering a network and movement towards Africa’s sustainability.
  • Convene a high-level panel, plenary and keynote presentations for renewed discussions and sustainable engagement by key players in Africa and other parts of the world to exchange experiences, evidence-based researches and practical approaches to boosting intra-regional trade.
  • Address emerging issues and challenges that will confront the full implementation of the trade agreement.
  • Celebrate some of the most influential and prominent business and political leaders, as well as policy makers in Africa, who have demonstrated leadership excellence and promoted innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in their communities and nations.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SUMMIT

  • Plenary and Keynote Presentations
  • Trade and Customs- Panel Session: A discussion with the leadership of Customs and Immigration agencies, export authorities, industry professionals, and customs brokers, certified export and customs specialists, from across Africa.
  • Policymakers’ Roundtable Session on Intra-Regional Trade: a high-level platform to engaging policymakers in discussions on intra-regional trade and integration.
  • Trade and Investment Mission to the United Kingdom: this Mission is designed to facilitate a series of high-level sessions and private investment meetings, formidable and high net-worth investments collaborations, mutually-beneficial and effective multi-stakeholder partnerships, policy dialogues and interactions, between members of the African business community and their counterparts in the United Kingdom.
  • African CEOs Roundtable: A panel session to engage leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and business leaders in discussions on various issues relating to intra-regional trade.
  • A Breakout Session on “Trade Facilitation and Logistics”: A panel session key players and stakeholder in Africa’s logistics industry, to explore their knowledge and provide real-life examples from their wealth of experience on felicitating Intra-regional trade and integration in the continent.
  • Award Dinner Session: Business and political leaders who have promoted innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in their communities and nations shall be celebrated and honoured with the African Business Leadership Award and Public Service Excellence Award, during this session.
  • The unveiling of the African Leadership magazine’s special coverage of the summit, with cover focus as “Africa Power 100”, a listing of top individuals, public and private organisation promoting sustainability in Africa.
  • Unrivalled Networking Sessions.

KEY EXPECTED PARTICIPANTS

  • Heads of States and Governments
  • Senior Government Officials
  • Heads of African Missions to the United Kingdom
  • Heads of Government Agencies and institutions
  • Major Industry Titans, Leaders and Key Stakeholders
  • Think-tanks, Industry Experts and International Development Institutions
  • Academics, Researchers and Research scholars

OVERVIEW OF THE AFRICAN SUMMIT

The Africa Summit is a premier and annual programme of the African Leadership magazine, since 2017, that brings together Business and Political Leaders as well as Key Stakeholders under one roof to connect with one another, celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and development in the continent, and explore diverse thoughts and perspectives on issues relations to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of Africa. While previous editions of the summit have attracted over 250 leaders from across Africa, United States and the United Kingdom, the 2019 edition promises to be even bigger with the theme set as Boosting Growth through Intra-African Trade and Regional Integration: A Pragmatic Approach.

For more information on participation and sponsorship, please contact our office, as shown below-

African Leadership Magazine
C/O African Leadership UK Limited
Portsmouth Technopole, Kingston Crescent
Portsmouth, PO2 8FA
The United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 7464 350969; +234 703 6827724
Email: info@www.africanleadershipmagazine.co.uk; amang@africanleadershipmagazine.co.uk
Website: www.africanleadership.co.uk