Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
A new business networking platform- Connect Africa Symposium is set to be launched at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and would focus on strengthening trade and productive integration through industrial policy, which harnesses regional value-chains (RVCs), ZITF Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nicholas Ndebele has said.
The exhibition will be held from April 26 to 30 under the theme: “Rethink, Reimagine, and Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development.”
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta will be the guest of honour. He will officially open the show on Friday, April 29, 2022.
Dr Ndebele told Business Chronicle that based on the premise of African solutions for African problems, the 2022 edition of Connect Africa Symposium will run under the theme “Reimagining the Future: A United Africa, A Prosperous Africa.”
He said participants at this year’s trade show can look forward to an immersive encounter, which maximises individual experiences, and places emphasis on co-created learning and exchanges.
“To fulfil this promise, we have put together a packed programme of content-rich, knowledge sharing and networking platforms, which will be happening on the sidelines of the exhibition.
“Raising the curtain for the business networking aspect of ZITF 2022, the ZITF International Business Conference (IBC) will take place on Tuesday 27 April.
ZITF 2022 will also witness the launch of the inaugural Connect Africa Symposium,” Dr Ndebele said.
“With a pan-African flair, the event aims to bring local and regional political leaders, key economic players and investors together in discussing and sharing solutions to the socio-economic challenges across the African continent.
“Focus of the event will be on strengthening trade and productive integration through industrial policy, which harnesses regional value-chains (RVCs)”.
Registration for the event is ongoing.
The programme, according to Dr Ndebele, will consist of presentations, panel discussions and breakaway sessions in key thematic areas – industrial and trade policy, infrastructure development as well as innovation and the digital economy.
In addition to regional policy makers in the areas of industrialisation, trade, ICT and infrastructure development, the programme line up will also feature local industrialists, business leaders, and development practitioners.
“Coming a day after the official launch of the AfCFTA Implementation Strategy for Zimbabwe (at the IBC), the Connect Africa symposium will also allow for discussions on progress made towards full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as a progressive effort towards attaining Vision 2063,” Dr Ndebele said.
On the Zimbabwe International Business Conference (IBC), Dr Ndebele indicated that its re-formulation has generated excitement among prospective participants as it has been oversubscribed.
Due to the overwhelming response and space limitations at the conference venue, Dr Ndebele said this will result in limiting the numbers of attendees on a first-come, first served basis.
“The market has expressed great excitement towards the new-look conference with over 300 participants having already registered to attend.
“Due to space limitations in the conference venue, we will be curtailing the numbers of attendees on a first-come, first served basis” said Dr Ndebele.
“A ZITF-favourite, this year’s conference has been re-formatted to address specific stakeholder feedback including a wider diversity of views in its programming, increased opportunities for engagement and networking as well as a focused and solution-oriented outlook.
“This year’s conference will run under the same theme as the exhibition (Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development) to encourage a frank discussion on our progress towards structural transformation and moving the economy up the value chain in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1)”.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga will headline the conference.
Confirmed speakers include Mr Kurai Matsheza (Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries) and Dr Tinashe Manzungu (Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce) representing industry and commerce respectively.
Academia will be represented by ZEPARU.
Regulators and business support organisations such as Zimtrade Industrial Development Corporation and National Competitiveness Competition are also expected to participate.