As the echoes of the 2023 Intra African Trade Fair (IATF) settle, it's time to revisit the key benefits for Malawi’s participation at this event. The nation showcased its economic diversity, emphasizing key sectors and trade opportunities that positioned Malawi as an important player in the African economic arena. The IATF wasn't just a trade fair; it was a canvas where Malawi painted its economic portrait, capturing the attention and interest of international stakeholders. As we reflect on the deals and engagements made at the IATF, let us look at the synergy that defined the country’s presence at the IATF.
Harvesting Opportunities at IATF
Waiting for opportunities to find us is akin to standing still in a dynamic market; the real growth emerges when we actively seek, explore, and seize the prospects that can shape Malawi's economic destiny on the continental stage. Malawi’s attendance at this year’s event is a testament to that. The Malawi delegation not only showcased their products, but they were actively engaging, networking, and cultivating collaborations that transcend borders. The event provided a perfect platform to unlock new opportunities and forge meaningful partnerships. It was not just a mere participation but a deliberate step towards driving the future of the nation's economic landscape.
At the heart of the key outcomes of the IATF 2023 lies a $2 billion commitment from Afreximbank for Export Agriculture for Food Security (ExAFS) Initiative which is set to benefit the governments of Chad, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Egypt. This is a framework agreement that Afreximbank entered with ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms (ARISE IIP) for the ExAFS. ExAFS initiative is expected to boost production, processing and intra-African trade in agricultural products and provide African farmers and agribusinesses with opportunities to access larger markets across the continent.
Another exciting success for Malawi is the US$10 million facility agreement signed by FDH Bank Malawi and Afreximbank to support trade finance in Malawi. The Africa Trade Exchange (ATEX) facility is set to reshape the landscape of agricultural procurement in the region and has come at the right time for Malawi. This facility will empower FDH Bank to efficiently pool procurement of fertilisers for the upcoming 2023/2024 growing season.
Building Bridges through Partnerships
Export development remains key for Malawi as the country is repositioning itself to be an export-led economy. As it is now, Malawi's growth hinges on a diversified export base supported by industrialization. Taking advantage of the IATF and the numerous opportunities it presents, Malawi hosted a business forum to showcase its business offering to potential investors in Egypt. Presided over by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Honourable Sosten Gwengwe, MP., the forum emphasized the paramount importance of export development for Malawi's transformation into an export-oriented economy and the need to identify and diversify trade partnerships.
"We need to identify and diversify trade partners to strengthen our economic resilience, and harness the untapped export opportunities in countries like Egypt," Hon. Sosten Gwengwe, MP. Minister of Trade and Industry
The highlight of the forum was the Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings which offered Malawian exhibitors a platform to engage, one on one, with potential trade partners from the Egyptian African Businessmen Association. B2B meetings play a crucial role especially when one is seeking export markets and they offer a platform for companies to connect, collaborate, and explore new business opportunities, exactly what Malawian exhibitors experienced at the IATF.
"IATF is a good platform for vital connections. Engaging with investors, buyers, and suppliers, it's more than a trade fair—it's a catalyst for meaningful networking and unparalleled business opportunities across the continent," Collette Thornicroft, Rift Valley Mining.
EDF's role in promoting Malawi’s Cross-Border Trade at the IATF
As we discuss Malawi’s presence at the 2023 IATF, it is essential to highlight the role that the Export Development Fund played. As a Development Finance Institution, EDF is playing a critical role in supporting the country to effectively integrate into the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, by among other things supporting Malawi’s participation at the Intra-African Trade forums.
Beyond providing trade financing solutions to businesses, EDF has become a strategic enabler for cross border trade. EDF's involvement in events like the IATF reflects a broader commitment to creating lasting impacts. Through its collaboration with the government and the private sector, EDF is actively facilitating networking opportunities, promoting market linkages, and advocating for policies that enhance the overall competitiveness of Malawian businesses on the international arena.
As an enabler for export development, EDF facilitated a strategic meeting between Afreximbank and Ministry of Trade and Industry at the IATF. The meeting discussed the progress made on the implementation of industrial parks projects in Malawi.
"To us intra-African and cross border trade remain critical to the growth of our exports. We are ready to support interventions that increase our production capacity, facilitate market linkages, and put in place suitable infrastructure that will enable our exporters to take full advantage of the vast continental market opportunities created under the AfCFTA," Fredrick Chanza, Managing Director, Export Development Fund.
A glance at the Malawi Pavilion
The Malawi Pavilion at the IATF stood as a dynamic showcase of the nation's economic vibrancy, trade, and investment potential. The pavilion was carefully crafted and visually appealing. Nestled within the heart of the exhibition, the pavilion was a bustling hub of activity, offering a comprehensive glimpse into Malawi's economic landscape.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders showcased their products and services, engaging with a diverse audience of trade enthusiasts, investors, and potential partners. It was a focal point for networking, collaboration, and knowledge exchange on the available investment and trade opportunities.
The warm hospitality of the Malawian delegation created an inviting atmosphere, encouraging meaningful conversations and partnerships. The Malawi Pavilion was not only an exhibition space but a symbol of the nation's commitment to intra-African trade and collaboration. The pavilion played a key role in elevating Malawi's presence at the event, leaving an impression of a nation poised for economic growth and international cooperation.
Looking ahead IATF 2025
As we turn our gaze to the future, Malawi is eagerly anticipating the opportunities that will unfold at the IATF 2025 in Algeria. The nation's commitment to fostering economic growth and regional collaboration remains unwavering.
With a focus on innovation, sustainability, and inclusive trade practices, Malawi envisions a dynamic presence at the next IATF, forging new partnerships and solidifying its position as a key player of intra-African trade.
As we look forward to the future, the anticipation is huge, and Malawi stands ready to make IATF 2025 a pivotal chapter in its journey toward economic prosperity.
You can read more about Malawi's participation in our special magazine edition: Malawi IATF Highlights.