The road to the Intra Africa Trade Fair (IATF) may have hit a pothole with the late venue change from Abidjan to Cairo, Egypt but a strong turnout from South African business executives at a recent roadshow in Johannesburg confirmed a strong interest.
Indeed, as Mike Whitfield, President of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) said during the panel discussion: “If we do not focus on competitiveness, the others out there are ready and moving fast.”
While he was speaking specifically about the auto industry and the Africa Automotive Show, the comment could equally be applied across all spheres of business in this country.
Although backed up and supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which talks a big game, that entity is still severely hampered by most of its key players on the critical injury list – Iscor, Eskom, Transnet etc.
Nevertheless, the DTI fully backs the IATF and the ongoing efforts to formally create a working African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that will benefit South African business as well as the rest of Africa by stimulating trade, lowering entry barriers to business and creating job opportunities across the continent.
Dave Coffey the CEO of AAAM says “We believe the Africa Automotive Show is well timed as the automotive industry is gaining traction in Africa where we will see trading of vehicles between assembly hubs across the continent supported by the development of regional value chains.”
Perhaps the biggest rev up to the business delegates came from Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi who said: “Less talk, more work. The days of celebrating agreements are over, the days of celebrating transactions are within us.
“If it is Africa’s time, let that time be the time for everyone. We must not leave anyone behind. The time of talking is over, the time of implementation is now! The time of meeting to change or amend agreements is over, the time to strengthen business transactions is now.
“Count on us, not today but forever!”