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    Africa Trade Week in Nairobi Launches Partnerships


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2001 

    Trade support, telecommunications and business leaders came together with representatives from humanitarian organizations and African producers at the first ITC Africa Trade Week held in Nairobi, Kenya, in the last week of November 2001, organized in conjunction with the Kenyan Ministry of Trade and Industry.

    The week included the first Regional Executive Forum, gathering specialists from eight countries of the region; the first ITC buyers-sellers meeting to bring together humanitarian organizations and regional African goods and service providers (from nine countries); and the kick-off meeting for the first country to benefit from ITC's e-Trade Bridge Programme.

    The Regional Forum, a joint venture with the Trade Ministry and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, led trade officials from six of the countries to decide to work on a national strategy for export development.

    The buyers-sellers meeting produced over US$ 2 million in business for Africa. The Kenya e-Trade Bridge meeting, a partnership venture with the Kenyan Export Promotion Council, set up a working group to develop activities to increase Kenyan companies' e-performance.

    ITC's Executive Director J. Denis Bélisle took part in all but the final day of the Trade Week. Speaking on behalf of ITC at the final session, Brian Barclay, coordinator of the Regional Executive Forum, said that the closing of Africa Trade Week was only the end of a beginning.

    "A number of partnerships have been established during this Trade Week: at the e-trade bridge meeting, between planners in the public and private sectors, and among businesses," he reported.

    First Regional Executive Forum held in Nairobi 

    Trade support, telecommunications and business leaders from eight African countries took part in the first Regional Executive Forum organized by ITC as part of the inaugural Africa Trade Week, Nairobi.

    The three-day meeting revealed that few of the countries have national export promotion strategies. However, several said the discussions convinced them it was essential to have a national strategy and to build up a public-private sector network to support companies seeking to improve their exports. Others said the exchanges gave them new ideas about how to review and revise the strategies they already have in place.

    The Regional Forum was designed to pass on "best-practice" conclusions from the three Executive Forums on National Export Strategies. It was also organized as an exchange of experiences and ideas among strategy-makers, trade support officials and business sector leaders. The Regional Forum concluded with presentations by each national team reviewing the best-practice ideas and indicating how they could move forward.

    Six of the national teams prepared action plans which they said they intended to implement on their return home. The interaction with ITC will continue through the Executive Forum network.

    E-trade meeting - project to find Kenya's e-winners 

    The first kick-off meeting of the e-trade bridge programme was an innovative two-day meeting of the nation's governmental telecoms experts, local businesses that have made their mark on the Internet, academics and trade support specialists. The participants agreed to act as an "incubator" for Kenya's most promising companies wishing to take advantage of electronic commerce.

    Peter Muthoka, chief executive of Kenya's Export Promotion Council (EPC), began the sessions by telling participants that "information, as they say, is power and information that is shared increases prosperity." He said that Kenya had already developed a partnership between the public and private sectors because it recognized "the importance of people working together." The meeting continued this commitment to partnership. "Business strives best where there is peace, stability and cooperation," Mr Muthoka noted.

    The EPC CEO concluded that e-trade is "very relevant and critical to trading internationally. In Kenya, we want to be at the forefront of e-commerce."