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Unlocking Africa’s Trade Potential

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The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has identified intra-African trade as a critical factor for unlocking Africa’s trade potential.

Ms. Kanayo Awani, Managing Director of the Bank’s, says a lack of access to trade and market information is one of the key reasons for the low level of intra-African trade. Although the share of intra-African trade as a percentage of total African trade has increased from 10% in 1995 to around 15% currently, it remains low compared to the levels in Europe (59%), Asia (51%), and North America (37%).

Historically, African countries are more familiar with markets in Europe and America than they are with those in neighboring countries, resulting in the all too common phenomenon of manufacturers sourcing materials from outside the continent when they could access the same materials more cheaply from within.

The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair 2018 is a key intervention aimed at boosting regional trade in Africa and will be the biggest gathering of buyers and sellers on the continent, with 1,000 exhibitors and more than 70,000 visitors expected. One of the key objectives of the IATF is to provide a platform for exchange of trade information.

To facilitate this, a Trade Finance Conference will run parallel to the trade fair. Experts from across the continent and beyond will be speaking at the conference, which will bring stakeholders from industry and government agencies together to find solutions to the obstacles hampering regional trade. The Conference will also provide a platform for networking and setting up of strategic partnerships.

Intra-African Trade Fair

The IATF is, essentially, a gateway into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which heralds what will be the biggest free trade area in the world. The first ever Intra-African Trade Fair, will provide direct access to the lucrative market created by the AfCFTA, which boasts over 1 billion people and a combined GDP of over US $3.4 trillion, making it an unprecedented platform for businesses to grow their interests exponentially into Africa.

The trade fair will also provide opportunity for the presentation of bankable proposals for funding, and access to US$25 billion in trade finance for deals concluded at the event. Business-to-Business Exchanges will also be facilitated at the trade fair. According to Ms. Awani, Afreximbank is working actively with the African Union(AU) to implement the AfCFTA.

The IATF 2018 is being organized by Afreximbank in partnership with the AU and will be hosted by the Egypt’s Export Development Authority. Themed “Intra-African Trade for a Transformative Africa”, the IATF will take place from 11 to 17 December 2018 at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre in Cairo. The trade fair will be convened biennially.

  • You can register as a visitor/delegate on our website at: intrafricantradefair.com. We look forward to seeing you in Cairo.

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Driven By African Stories

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What’s in a name? For the team at Africa Communications Media Group, ACG, quite a lot, actually. An African Corporate Communications and Media Agency based in South Africa with presence in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda, ACG also services the rest of Africa.

Having worked on numerous campaigns on the continent over the years, ACG takes pride in their reach spanning across all 54 African countries.

The journey began just under four years ago when co-founders Mimi Kalinda and Addis Alemayehou, who are both very passionate about Africa and driving her narrative, teamed up to begin what is now the first African-owned and run Pan-African Communications Agency.


ACG Group CEO and Co-Founder Mimi Kalinda. Picture: Supplied

The two were driven by the very pertinent need for African stories to be told by Africans in a way that is understanding of nuance and sensitive to the ways of the region.

“Doing business in Africa, while very rewarding, does not come without its challenges. It requires one to fully grasp the cultures, values and needs of the local consumer. My team and I know Africa, and sometimes that means accepting the fact that while we may not be the most conversant with the ways of a certain region, there are other people who are.

Therefore, we maintain great working relationships with our affiliate PR firms across Africa. They serve as our eyes and ears on the ground to ensure that any work we put out is relevant, culturally-attuned and timely,” says  Mimi Kalinda,  ACG Group Chief Executive and co-founder, on the commemoration of the company’s third anniversary.

ACG Managing Director Nonye Mpho Omotola Picture: Supplied

Public relations is fast changing from practitioners being the gatekeepers and liaisons between client and media; to playing an active role in the industry and, as such, the ACG team sees innovation as the backbone behind everything they do.

”Innovation is the backbone of everything we do at ACG. This is evidenced by the services we offer such as perception audits to better understand clients’ positioning in the market and stakeholder mapping to ensure that clients are speaking to the right audiences.

We also have a deep understanding of the media landscape in the countries our clients want to reach, giving them the on-air presence to help tangible results with visible returns on investment.  We play an active role in tying communication outcomes to the overall business objectives of our clients” says Nonye Mpho Omotola, ACG Managing Director

Tuba Mutwale Special Projects Coordinator and Nonye Mpho Omotola Managing Director of ACG. Picture: Supplied

A wonderfully diverse team, the ACG staff compliment comprises of people from Nigeria, DRC, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Mozambique. The agency lives up to its name by being fully immersed in Africa and having a keen interest in the affairs and happenings of the continent.

When the team at FORBES WOMAN AFRICA approached ACG to participate as activation partners in the Leading Women Summit held at the Durban ICC, it was a natural alignment of goals for both parties as the management and entire team at ACG are passionate about the development of women, particularly in Africa. 

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Rising Africa Series

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A celebration of thought leaders, innovators, thinkers, problem solvers, and drivers of growth and development


Rising Ethiopia 2019

Dr. Mohammed Nuri Osman, Board Chair & CEO, Medtech, Ethiopia

Medtech is an Ethiopian pharmaceutical company that was created due to the shortage of pharmaceutical supplies in the country. Dr Mohammed Nuri, Chairman and CEO of Medtech Ethiopia began his long successful career as a clinic based medical doctor, and through an unstoppable passion for a more substantial quality of life in Africa, rose to become the CEO of Medtech.

He states that it is persistence which has brought Medtech great success and
will increase the company’s stability even further. Medtech is known for supplying long term solutions to create an affordable and accessible pharmaceutical market.

Dr. Mohammed Nuri Osman, Board Chair & CEO, Medtech Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

With this in mind, Nuri has set goals in motion to become one of the top three African pharmaceutical companies by 2020. Through his endeavors, Medtech has advanced from trading limited drugs to manufacturing a variety of advanced medicines.

Nuri states that Medtech follows an invaluable level of respect and reputation for all included parties, striving toward the motto ‘we care to cure’.

To Nuri there is nothing more important than quality at the core of everything Medtech does, bringing affordable drugs to Ethiopians throughout the country and beyond.

Benyam Bisrat, Managing Director Jupiter International Hotel, Ethiopia

“We are certainly endowed with numerous attractions, extensive historical sites, and a great climate mix, however, our competitive edge remains elusive because we are yet to properly develop and brand our product globally.

Benyam Bisrat, Managing Director Jupiter International Hotel Ethiopia. Picture: Supplied

Despite this, in recent years, Ethiopia’s tourism and hospitality industry has
emerged as one of the key sectors driving the country’s economy. The tourist sector continues to flourish, owing it to a surge in both business
and leisure travel, with international and regional visitor numbers climbing.

This said, there are plenty opportunities for investors, not only in mid-scale hotels, but also in timeshare business, conference centers, water parks, golf courses, and recreation centers throughout the country.”

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Banking On The Financial Freedom Of African Women

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4G Capital’s Chief of Staff, Genevieve Hennessy-Barrett discusses how inclusion, female mentorship and shared knowledge can cross borders and heal Africa’s displaced and most vulnerable women.


Access to financial services and the freedom to open a bank account remains unattainable for many women around the world, and even more so in frontier markets. 

Some progress has been made; the number of bank accounts owned by women now equals men in South Africa.  But, elsewhere on our continent, the situation is not so encouraging.  According to a 2017 Global Findex report, the gender gap remains, on average, just over 9% across Sub-Saharan Africa, unchanged since 2011.  

We are all too familiar with the numerous reasons why women all over the world find it difficult to gain financial independence.  In ‘emerging’ markets there exists an even greater lack of opportunity in terms of education and work, and in some cases a cultural expectation that can prevent women from investing in their own future. 

But no matter the challenge, women have always adapted and overcome through the creation of their own opportunities, and have worked together to protect and support their families and communities.

Female entrepreneurs make significant contributions to local and national economies. The SME Finance Forum’s research indicates that almost one third of the world’s small businesses are owned by women and account for 32% of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)  finance gap, estimated to be worth be $5.2 trillion.

4G Capital’s Chief of Staff, Genevieve Hennessy-Barrett. Picture: Supplied

Lack of collateral, official identification and correct paperwork, are the primary reasons for financial exclusion.  Access to credit is often extremely difficult for MSMEs, and even more so for small businesses owned by women who are often given less favourable terms than their male peers. 

As a fintech credit company working with MSMEs who are typically excluded from traditional financial institutions, 4G Capital has sought to bridge not only the finance gap, but also address the gap in financial literacy.  By combining these offerings we can alleviate poverty sustainably and unlock vital human potential.  We are on target to positively impact more than 1 million people by 2020. 

We believe it is our blend of finance and education delivered via ‘touch-tech’ that is responsible for our appeal to many female business owners. Although we did not focus our marketing strategy on gender, 81% of our customers are female. 

We are able to support their development through a bespoke programme of business training to help them use our micro-loans to achieve much higher take-home earnings.  

According to recent research by one of our partners, Technoserve, this combination of training combined with working capital credit resulted in an 82% increase in revenue year-on-year.

But imagine the challenges faced by women who have had to flee their own countries, seeking refuge and safety for themselves and often for their children. Determined to build a sustainable future, their plight has gained the attention of RefuSHE, a charity set to provide support to refugee women in Kenya.

4G Capital has initiated a program to deliver business training and mentorship to RefuSHE’s Girls’ Empowerment Project (GEP), designed to give access to education and livelihood opportunities, while learning about human rights and cultivating leadership skills.

We kick started this partnership by welcoming the girls at one of our 4G Capital branches.  They were given training on basic business principles such as book keeping and responsible management of business credit.

Based on what they learnt, RefuSHE’s girls have now taken part in our Business Plan Competition.  

Successful participants have been taken forward to internships and matched with successful female entrepreneurs who are customers of 4G Capital.  

They will be supported, mentored and trained. The hope is that with this initiative, these girls who were once so vulnerable will now gain the necessary skills to run a successful business, be part of a community and build a new life.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to honour all the women of Africa striving to build a future for themselves and their communities by saluting their determination, knowledge, wisdom, humour and humanity in the face of the challenges which affect us all.

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