THE Zanzibar Trade and Investment Forum has strengthened business and investment partnerships, the Isles’ Minister for Trade and Industrial Development of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Omar Said Shaaban, has said.
Speaking at a two-day event held in the Isles, Omar Said Shaaban told the forum’s participants that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity for Africa to boost industrialisation and enhance value chain and value addition.
Gracing the second day of the well-attended event, the Minister expressed his optimism that through AfCFTA, they will benefit from its abundant natural resources.
The Zanzibar Trade and Investment Forum convened 300 delegates composed of officials from the Ministries and Investment Promotion Agencies, International Investors and Business leaders.
On his part, Executive Director of the East African Business Council, John Kalisa said in 2020, the EAC GDP bounced back to 6.3 percent but is projected to slow at 5.1 percent in 2022 due to global shocks such as the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
He explained that despite the global shocks, the EAC bloc is still the most integrated and fastest-growing regional economic bloc in Africa as the continent’s GDP is projected at 3.6 percent in 2022.
Mr Kalisa emphasised the paramount importance to improve industrial production capacity and infrastructure connectivity, eliminating non-tariff barriers and easing access to capital and trade finance to increase intra-Africa trade.
He noted that Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania have been chosen to champion intra-Africa trade under the AfCFTA guided trade initiative.
Speaking during the panel session on Creating the Conditions for Growth: Challenges and Opportunities for the Private Sector,
Executive Chairman of Vigor International Limited, Toufiq Salim Turky expressed the need to empower and integrate SMEs to trade opportunities in the blue economy and services sectors.
In her contribution to the session, Ms Lizanne Case, Senior Manager, Trade and Information, Afreximbank said Afreximbank trader intelligence disseminates practical information on African supply chains to ease access to information. She said Africa is the next growth frontier.
Mr Daud Mohamed from Zanzibar Chambers of Commerce said African companies should be focusing on products and market differentiation to boost export competitiveness.
He also emphasized on the need to enhance access to business and trade information for SMEs.
Mr Kudakwashe Matereke, Regional Chief Operating Officer, Eastern Africa, Afreximbank, Mr. Moto N. Lugobi, Economist, Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT), Dr. Estella Ngo’ma Hassan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, People’s Bank of Zanzibar shared insights on strategies to enhance financing for Africa’s recovery in light of Global External Shocks.
The Forum also held a panel session on Food Security, Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness and presented a case study on investing in real estate in Zanzibar focusing on Fumba Town.