The AfCFTA Business Forum, co-hosted by the AfCFTA Secretariat and the Government of South Africa under the leadership of H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, was rescheduled and is now set to take place from the 16th to 19th of April 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. This is Africa’s biggest business event, designed with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA and activating trade and investments.
The focus: Private Sector
The main focus of the AfCFTA Business Forum is the private sector. The program and activities have been curated specifically to create a private sector engagement platform and promote a private sector-friendly environment. The Forum will focus on the AfCFTA Priority sectors including agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, transportation and logistics, and digital trade. Panel sessions, dialogues, and side events will be aimed at creating awareness of the current business and investment opportunities in the AfCFTA among Africa’s business community and going a step further to connect businesses to funding opportunities for AfCFTA value chains. In doing so, the ABF will set up structures through the Secretariat that will serve as a private sector engagement platform for continued consultations on private sector needs in the implementation of the AfCFTA. Furthermore, the importance of MSMEs especially those led by Women and Youth will be highlighted at this Forum.
Format and participation
The AfCFTA Business Forum is not just a platform for discussions and networking, but it is also designed to be an engaging and dynamic event. With a focus on sectors such as agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, transportation and logistics, and digital trade, the forum will provide in-depth insights into the current business and investment opportunities in the AfCFTA. The format of the event will include plenaries, roundtables, fireside chats, and side events that will highlight policies and investment opportunities in the sectors mentioned above.
In addition to these sessions, the AfCFTA Business Forum will also provide spaces for one-to-one business meetings, sponsored breakfasts and luncheons, deal rooms, investment promotion, networking breaks, and cultural and social events, including an award ceremony, a gala dinner, and a creative showcase. But it doesn’t end there, the forum will also feature an exciting opportunity for businesses and investors to pitch their ideas and projects to a panel of potential investors and business leaders. This provides an opportunity for companies and entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative projects and to attract investment, partnerships, and mentorship.
The Setting: Cape Town
Hosting the AfCFTA Business Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, under the auspices of the Government of South Africa, is of great significance. Cape Town is a hub for commerce, culture, and innovation, making it the ideal location for this landmark event. The city is renowned for its natural beauty, with iconic landmarks such as Table Mountain and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. In addition to its stunning scenery, Cape Town is also a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, with a thriving start-up ecosystem and a growing tech sector.
The Government of South Africa’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA and the hosting of this Forum is a testament to their commitment to promoting economic integration and growth on the continent. This presents an opportunity for businesses to explore the rich and diverse opportunities available in South Africa and the wider African region. The country is a gateway to the African continent, with a well-developed infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and a strong financial sector. The AfCFTA Business Forum provides a platform for businesses to connect with local partners, explore investment opportunities, and learn about the policies and initiatives aimed at promoting trade and investment within the AfCFTA.
Participants at the AfCFTA Business Forum will not only have the opportunity to network and engage with key players in the African business community, but also to experience the vibrant culture and hospitality of Cape Town. The city offers a wealth of opportunities for cultural exchange, from its museums and art galleries, to its rich musical heritage, and delicious cuisine. This is an opportunity to expand business horizons, make meaningful connections, and forge long-lasting relationships.
The Forum will include a range of activities such as plenaries, roundtables, fireside chats, and side events to highlight policies and investment opportunities in the focus sectors. There will also be spaces for one-to-one business meetings, sponsored breakfasts and luncheons, deal rooms, investment promotion, and networking breaks. A cultural and social program, including an award ceremony, a gala dinner, and a creatives showcase, will also be held to add to the experience.
The Forum seeks broad participation of Africa’s private sector, strategic investors, financial institutions, investment promotion agencies, business councils, chambers of commerce, multinationals, African women and youth business organizations, as well as Heads of Government, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), academia, regional and international media, and AfCFTA Partners. With the beautiful city of Cape Town as the host, there will also be a strong tourism component to the Forum.
Why is the ABF 2023 unique?
The AfCFTA Business Forum is a landmark event as it is the first business forum to take place after the launch of the guided trade initiative. This means that the instruments necessary for trading under the AfCFTA have already been put into place and are ready to be utilized. Businesses and investors can take advantage of the opportunities created by the AfCFTA to expand their reach, connect with new partners and customers, and access new markets.
Moreover, 2023 is designated as the Year of the AfCFTA under the African Union theme of “Accelerating the AfCFTA.” This makes the AfCFTA Business Forum a unique opportunity to take advantage of all the machinery of the African Union and Agenda 2063 to promote business and investment in Africa. The African Union’s commitment to promoting economic integration on the continent is reflected in its choice of theme and the AfCFTA Business Forum provides a platform to showcase this commitment and to encourage investment and trade within the AfCFTA. This is a crucial moment for businesses, investors, and governments to come together to discuss, collaborate and create a shared vision for the future of African trade.