Published On: Fri, Feb 5th, 2016

Africa 2016: Leaders should create borderless economies

Africa brandsBy Mthokozisi Ndlovu

AS more than 1 000 African leaders, investors and policy makers expected to attend a two-day Africa 2016 in Egypt on the 20th and 21st this month, there are lot of expectations about the outcomes, particularly on intra-trade and borderless economy policies.

Africa 2016 is the African international business forum organised by Egyptian Ministry of Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, and Ministry of International Cooperation, in partnership with the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development and COMESA Regional Investment Agency.

The forum is expected to be opened by the President of Egypt, H.E Abdel Fateh El-Sisi, and members of the African Heads and States are also expected to attend.

The forum comes less than a year when three African regional economic communities, EAC, COMESA and SADC signed a tripartite agreement that enforces free and intra trade between 26 countries, which make a combined GDP nearing US$1.2 trillion, and a market of close to 620 million consumers.

The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) will lead to the creation of a borderless economy that would rank 13th in the world in terms of GDP. It focuses on boosting intra-African trade and implementing a number of action plans that relate to investment, trade, industrialisation and infrastructure.

The forum will strengthen intra trade and accelerates private sector engagements and investments within Africa, to assist develop new ties and partnerships, and to highlight opportunities that Africa has to offer.

So, what does this forum means to African companies?

As some of African-born companies are increasingly expanding their footprints across Africa, the approval of intra trade and borderless economy policies will present a great opportunity for them, as they will move easily from one country to another.

Multinational companies like Ecobank, which operates in 32 countries, Shoprite, Dangote Group and Mr Price Group will see themselves entering new markets where trade and investment policies are strict and unfriendly to foreign companies.

As we know, some countries have strict investment and ‘doing business’ policies to foreign companies who are trying to enter their territories; this is according to a report titled “Doing Business 2016” conducted by World Bank Group. The report examines the ease of doing business in almost all countries in the world, with a strong focus on economic and trade policies.

Out of 47 Sub-Sahara African countries, only three countries (Botswana, Mauritius and South Africa) are ranked favourably between 39 and 76 in the world, whereas countries like Nigeria and Angola are ranked far behind between 153 and 189 positions – which is unfortunately a shame to African continent.

The Africa 2016 is the perfect opportunity for African companies, potential investors and to every individual living and interested in Africa.

The forum is a great platform to answer questions that most investors and entrepreneurs have, questions such as; Where to invest in Africa? What are the current trends and opportunities? Where to consult when I need to start a business in a certain market within Africa? Will country policies allow me to start a certain business? And what are the current economic indicators – are they going to have a positive or negative impact to what I am planning to pursue?

Come 22 February, all these questions will be answered.

Investors and African optimists will now have a clear direction as Development and Trade Agencies from different countries will be opened for discussions.

Mthokozisi Ndlovu is the public relations and strategic communications professional based in South Africa.

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