Trade based on several institutions in the past has been projected as the great panacea to the great economic stress that hangs like a cloud over several African economies.
In recent years several measures have been tried and tested all to give Africa a chance to find economic liberation and finally be running its development with significant independence.
Of all measures one of them stands without contention as an essential part of economic growth no matter what kind of economic policies are adopted and this is trade. Trade in Africa has been very sought after by many of its imminent leaders but has yet proven difficult due to various trade policies and other abstract formalities that have put up invisible walls against ‘free and cooperative’ trade among very able African countries in the various regional areas. A great example in the past has been Ghana and Kenya between whom trade has not been the best due to these abstract formalities described in the best scenario as ‘invisible walls’ despite the unique economic strength that both countries wield as well as the bountiful resources available on both soils even though they can be found on both extreme ends of the continent.
In spite of these discoveries in recent times two visionary presidents namely President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President John Mahama of Ghana took into consideration these opportunities and put pen to paper to make sure they actually materialize.
Both presidents have signed seven agreements to strengthen the bonds of friendship and co-operation between Ghana and Kenya, the ceremony was witnessed by President John Dramani Mahama and President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
The agreements included efforts to reduce the cost of doing business between the two countries, co-operation in tourism training, and the exchange of technical information in agriculture. The two leaders emphasized on the need to establish double taxation agreements between the two countries and how to protect investments in each other’s country. Most importantly they discussed how Ghana and Kenya can become sub-regional aviation hubs in West and East Africa respectively and trade was found to be a very essential part to be implemented if the ideas were to manifest. The Kenya trade expo Ghana that has begun in Ghana is the biggest highlight in reference to these new agreements signed by both presidents, the expo is currently taking place at the Labadi beach hotel in Accra, Ghana, where it’s going to be continuously highlighting trade, investment and brainstorming more effective ways to strengthen the bond between Ghana and Kenya for the next two days. The opening ceremony that took place today opened doors to several economic giants from both countries respectively, interested business people and key trade partners were all present as well as several top level dignitaries including the high commissioner of Kenya to West Africa, H.E. Tom Amolo who has been of great support to the event thus far.
The opening ceremony commenced inside the Labadi suite where all delegates were seated, speeches begun with informative welcome addresses from organizers, an address by the Ghanaian ministry of trade as well as some warm welcoming words from the Kenyan High Commissioner to West Africa who attended the event.
Among the speeches were very instrumental words from the Vice Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) who explained how necessary these trade ties were, its effect on economic growth in Africa, policies to encourage business growth as well the importance of the new direction Ghana and Kenya are strategically headed. Other speeches key to the implementation of these ties were also delivered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international trade from Kenya as well as the Ghana free zones board. After the insightful speeches the delegation progressed to the exhibition grounds in the beach gardens at the hotel where various products from the Kenyan markets were exhibited, entrepreneurs and business men from both countries were seen in splendor as they proudly displayed their hard work to interested delegates. Exhibitors included companies like Rose and Lilies, Horizons Offices, Ketepa tea, Brookside among other interesting businesses from Eastern Africa. The networking lunch followed as all delegates had the opportunity to exchange contacts and get to know themselves and their businesses better as the press conducted interviews amongst them.
Events rounded up with an investors round table that gathered a lot of essential information about new developments as well as the way forward, topics discussed included ‘the missing middle’ which was begun by President Obama during his visit to Kenya about neglected start-ups that could become very meaningful contributors to economic growth if well-groomed and supported, the Vice Chair of KEPSA also described how KEPSA has been taking initiative to design a company maturity map to guide start-ups to become more stable ventures.
Topics covering how leadership has failed Africa, the growth of cross cultural exchange among the youth to enable them understand their contemporary environment, projects aimed at developing start-ups in Ghana and finally how security is important for businesses to be stable, emphasizing the importance of business striving in secure environments.
The beginning of this expo has opened doors to so many unforeseen possibilities between both countries, the response has been very encouraging and this is just day one!
Cameras are on pause and mikes are still in place, day two commences soon, Accra cannot wait to see what the Kenya Trade Expo 2015 has to offer when the sun creeps up tomorrow and the sprinklers hit the grass to signify a new day, let’s keep reading.