IATF 2021 Conference: Innovation for start ups

Categories: News

Innovation is the cog that drives the wheel of productivity, creation of value and distribution of wealth, experts said in Durban at the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021), which opened on 15 November and runs until 21 November.
Experts say it is also one of the most essential parts for sustained growth and spot on economic transformation like the one aspired for the African Continent-wide numerous initiatives including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

To this end, entrepreneurship and innovation specialists have observed that innovation is a challenge that needs to be addressed if a free trade area for the continent is to be achieved.
The African Union is invigorating innovation among the close to 33% of the Continent’s population – the youth, having established the reality that they are the future of the continent hence has a pivotal role to play in any journey geared towards the development of the continent.

Dr. Patrick Ndzana Olomo, Policy Officer and Resource Mobilization and Coordinator of Innovation at the African Union says other than Integration for Africa which would assure the continent of about 1.3Billion people population for a Continental market area – a huge resource to help pull Africa out of poverty, Investment in skills, transport, infrastructure in order to equip the youth to be able to match the needs of the global job market and Industrialization – to compliment the trade aspect of AfCFTA, Innovation must now be given serious thought if the journey of intra African trade is to be walked successfully.

Dr. Olomo was speaking during a panel session at the IATF 2021 in Durban, a forum where the youth in attendance as part of the 150 beneficiaries of the Intra African Trade expressed concerns about stringent movement of goods and services between some African Countries as a major impediment towards a common market for the Continent.


Yusuf Daya, Director, AU/AfCFTA Relations and Trade Policy, Afreximbank

While responding to them, Afreximbank’s Director in charge of AU/AfCFTA Relations and Trade Policy Mr. Yusuf Daya said that already about 40 of Africa’s over 50 member states that signed the AfCFTA Agreement have ratified the protocol on movement of goods and services, and that it is hoped the remaining Countries would too in the shortest time possible to complete that phase of the continental free trade area’s journey to fruition.

Africa spends close to US$110Billion in the importation of foodstuff and another close to US$60Billion for the importation of pharmaceuticals from outside the Continent every year, monies that would easily be circulated within Africa if only innovation as a precursor to industrialization to compliment trade would be adopted.

This according to Mr. Daya, is why Afreximbank puts emphasis on industrialization, urging the youth to be more innovative in their approach to solutions for the development of trade and investment in Africa.

Today, the Bank is very keen on financing startups as a vehicle towards its dream of a pan African reliant market, seeing as so far only US$1.7Billion has been invested by the Continent in startups for its close to 1.3 Billion population, compared to $4 billion in Singapore for a population of 5 million.