As part of its contribution to improving intra-Africa trade and investment and continental integration, the World Trade Centre Accra, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe High Commission in Ghana, held a meeting on July 10, 2018 with members of the African Diplomatic Corps to discuss, “The Role of Diplomacy in Promoting Intra-Africa Trade.”
Togbe Afede XIV, Executive Chairman of WTC Accra and Board Member of World Trade Centres Association (WTCA), gave the opening remarks and Her Excellency Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, the Zimbabwe High Commissioner to Ghana, presented the keynote address. The meeting was held at the World Trade Centre Accra. In attendance were members of the African Diplomatic Corps and representatives from various ministries and trade agencies, including Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ghana Free Zones Board, and Ghana Export Promotion Authority.
The purpose of the meeting was to stress the importance of diplomatic involvement in promoting regional trade and to discuss how embassies can work directly with trade promotion agencies, such as the World Trade Centre Accra, to increase trade and investment between their host and home countries.
Madam Musaka opened her keynote address by firmly asking, “The private sector has led when it comes to trade and investment, but what is the role of the Ambassador and the embassy?” She went on to describe her embassy’s strategic relationship with World Trade Centre Accra and her proactive role in working with WTC Accra to organize and take part in two trade and investment missions to Zimbabwe in June 2018. She expressed the hope that the visits would generate investment in Zimbabwe’s agriculture, power, mining, banking and finance sectors, and also lead to the establishment of World Trade Centre Harare.
Her Excellency’s address was well received by her colleagues and other guests. Edward Ashong-Lartey, Director of Investment Services at Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, corroborated her message, stating, “We all know that trade & investment go together. First, we must produce, and then, we must trade. Now with the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement, government and the private sector must work together to promote trade and investment in Africa.”
In his welcome address, Togbe Afede XIV stressed the importance of size and compared Africa’s size in terms of population and market, to that of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). He emphasized how Africa can learn from other trading blocs such as the European Union and leverage our size to generate significant economic benefits for the entire continent.
Several diplomats, including H.E. Dr. Alhousseini Ousmane, Ambassador of Niger to Ghana, commended the initiative and expressed their support for World Trade Centre’s expansion in Africa and the continued collaboration amongst members of the African Diplomatic Corps to promote regional integration.
The group agreed to convene again in September to discuss specific actions and plan quarterly meetings that would ensure regular dialogue.