Obasanjo advocates “Made in Africa” branding as firms broker deals at IATF2021

The former Nigerian president says having a “Made in Africa” brand will instil a sense of pride in each African country and boost intra-African trade

The former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo is advocating the creation of an emblematic “Made in Africa” brand that will promote intra-African trade and boost the international export of African products.

Obasanjo was speaking during a symposium on the third day of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) in Durban, South Africa.

He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was working to remove the divisions brought about by colonialism, under which Africa had been divided into regions based on the languages of the colonisers.

He argued that the shared vision of IATF2021 participants and traders at the fair is what will bring the AfCFTA to life.

“I have been impressed by the interaction of people at the IATF. People are working together, and this creates the environment in which miracles can happen,” Obasanjo said.

“Never short of ideas”

Earlier, during another panel session on “Integrating African Manufacturers into Regional and Global Value Chains”, Gwen Mwaba, Afreximbank’s director and global head for trade finance, said Africa had an abundance of ideas but often did not have the knowhow to convert these into viable and profitable businesses, resulting in intellectual property being lost.

Describing the challenge as three-pronged, Mwaba said, “Africans have a plethora of good ideas that are not followed up. For those that are followed up, the good ideas are not sustained; and the few good ideas that are followed up and sustained are often not rigorously maintained.”

She suggested using education to address the intellectual property challenge in Africa, saying that the resulting business ideas could be harnessed and given a chance of success with support from Afreximbank.

She added that Africa needed more industrial development zones, built by the public sector, where the cost of production and manufacturing would be lower and many countries could combine their industrial strength to meet common goals.

“By leveraging innovative, multi-country collaborative models, African countries can start to manufacture and export products to the rest of the world,” Mwaba urged. “Asia has done this successfully with brands such as Hyundai, whose vehicle components are manufactured and assembled by different entities, all working to leverage their individual capabilities.”

Some deals brokered

Starting out in 2018 with the inaugural fair in Cairo, Egypt, the IATF has grown quickly into a resounding success.

Trade and investment deals worth US$32 billion were concluded at this year’s event, and more than 1,000 exhibitors and 2,500 conference delegates from over 45 countries took part, resulting in an unprecedented platform for businesses to grow their interests exponentially through Africa.

On the sidelines of IATF2021, a number of deals were brokered to promote growth on the African continent.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed a $1.04 billion facility with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to finance the exploration of petroleum.

The transaction comprises a pre-export/shipment finance facility, underpinned by a forward sale agreement (FSA) and offtake contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation acting as the borrower and seller.

NNPC will enter an FSA within which it will deliver 35,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The proceeds from the facility will boost tax revenues and foreign currency receipts by more than $2.4 billion, and create thousands of jobs in the oil and gas refining value chain, to the immediate benefit of the government, thereby improving the balance of trade and gross domestic poduct in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy.

The Silverbird Group and AAA Entertainment also entered into a partnership to develop and produce a slate of cinematic African feature films.

AAA Entertainment will bring to the partnership an experienced film development, financing and production team, facilities and partnership network, while Silverbird Group will contribute its cinema exhibition and distribution infrastructure and experience in West Africa and the rest of the continent, as well as its studio facilities and network in Los Angeles.

The deal is valued at $50 million and will focus on the $500 million Afreximbank Creative Industry Programme for financing.

Afreximbank also signed financing agreements with four Zimbabwean entities for a total of $188.6 million.

On Wednesday (17 November), the bank signed with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company (ZETDC) a $110.4 million syndicated term loan facility. The funds will help ZETDC to improve revenue collection through smart meters and prepaid meters, and thus pay off regional creditors’ accounts.

In addition, Afreximbank provided the Central African Building Society with a $40 million facility to support its participation in a syndicated facility aimed at improving supply of electricity in Zimbabwe by paying off legacy debt and importing prepaid meters.

The third transaction, which is a $28.2 million dual-tranche facility, was agreed with CBZ Bank to provide much-needed offshore foreign currency in Zimbabwe. The transaction will also help finance imports of raw materials for key industries, thereby creating jobs and, in some cases, facilitating export diversification.

IATF2021 exhibitions


The seven-day IATF2021 provided a platform to promote trade under the AfCFTA.

It featured over 6,000 buyers, sellers and other stakeholders participating to share trade, investment and market information, as well as trade finance and trade facilitation solutions designed to support intra-African trade and Africa’s economic integration.

The event was organised by Afreximbank in collaboration with the African Union and the AfCFTA Secretariat, based in Accra.

The event took place under the theme “Building Bridges for a Successful AfCFTA”. Strong focus was placed on recognising growth opportunities for intra-African, cross-border trade and investment.

One of the most striking national stands in the exhibition area of the fair was the Ghana pavilion, which highlighted Ghanas role in setting the political pace for Africa in the 1950s.



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