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    Encouraging African Business at the World Economic Forum


    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2007, © International Trade Centre

    The Africa Competitiveness Report, launched at the World Economic Forum's Africa meeting, can be downloaded at http://www.weforum.org

    Business matchmaking and development advocacy go hand-in-hand for ITC at the latest gathering in Cape Town.

    For ten years, ITC's business matchmaking services at the World Economic Forum's annual gathering in Africa have led to new business ventures.

    At Cape Town in June this year, ITC again organized business matchmaking meetings - over 400 bilateral meetings, in fact, among business people from 20 countries (14 of them from Africa). Most business meetings explored partnerships in management consulting, financial services, telecommunications, energy and education.

    These contacts often lead to successful business ventures. For example, in 2005, Mozambique's national electricity company (EDM) was matched with a Swedish power supplier, which led to its purchase of renewable energy technology from Sweden a year later.

    Says Stephen Browne, ITC's Deputy Executive Director, who was at the event: "Business people across the continent find this focused networking and partnership facilitation valuable. If we look at the increasing number of World Economic Forum participants using ITC's bilateral matchmaking services, and the continued interest of returning participants, this gives an important indication of our role."

    Development at two speeds

    ITC also participated in panels on climate change and on Connecting Africa, a strategy to improve digital access led by the International Telecommunication Union.

    "Africa's development is clearly progressing at two different speeds," says Mr Browne. "The private sector is champing at the bit to move forward."

    Most African countries have small domestic markets and need to look to neighbouring countries to harness the power of trade for African development.

    Contributors: E. Barreto and N. Domeisen, ITC.