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Zanzibar President Hassan Mwinyi congratulates Richard Ngatia on election as EACCI President

Byadmin

Dec 15, 2023

The President of Zanziber Dr Hassan Mwinyi has today poured a glowing tribute to former Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Richard Ngatia as he congratulated the business mogul on his recent election as the President of the East Africa Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture (EACCIA).

President Mwinyi pledged to support the activities of EACCIA under the new leadership saying that the regional chamber had wisely elected the right person and he is ready to support Ngatia and his new board.

President Mwinyi committed to support EACCI and the integration of the region in the ateas of business and agricultural development.

Zanzibar’s Minister for Trade and Industry Development, Hon Omar Said Shaaban, delivered the Presidents speech officially inaugurated the EACCIA Board and launched the strategic plan noting that President Mwinyi is fully behind the regional chamber’s leadership.

This was during the Zanzibar business conference held on 15-16 December, 2023 at the Golden Tulip hotel in Zanzibar.

President Mwinyi committed to support EACCI and the integration of the region in the ateas of business and agricultural development.

Zanzibar’s Minister for Trade and Industry Development, Hon Omar Said Shaaban, delivered the Presidents speech officially inaugurated the EACCIA Board and launched the strategic plan noting that President Mwinyi is fully behind the regional chamber’s leadership.

This was during the Zanzibar business conference held on 15-16 December, 2023 at the Golden Tulip hotel in Zanzibar.

Ngatia on his part said that as the incoming President of the East Africa Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture, he was more than happy and honored to participate in the transformative event that is aimed at shaping investment prospects not only in Zanzibar but across the entire East Africa region.

“I wish to express gratitude to H.E. the President of Zanzibar Dr. Hussein Ali Mwinyi for hosting us on this remarkable island of Zanzibar, abundant with opportunities. The East African Community (EAC) stands as one of the fastest-growing regional economic blocs, characterized by a significant youth and urban population. Somalia’s recent entry as the eighth member has expanded the EAC regional market to over 300 million people. In 2022, prior to Somalia’s inclusion, the combined gross domestic product of the EAC countries reached $305 billion, with a total trade value of $78.75 billion. It’s essential to highlight that women constitute at least 70% of cross-border traders, significantly contributing to intra-African trade,” Ngatia said.

While acknowledging past successes in Public-Private Partnerships, Ngatia said that there are still countless untapped opportunities which call for collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“The EACCIA remains steadfast in consolidating gains from trade liberalization schemes, empowering our members and partners to seize the abundant opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In my new role, I reiterate our commitment to supporting the EAC regional agenda and accelerating the implementation of AfCFTA, fostering an inclusive and equitable trade agenda for the prosperity of all,” Ngatia said.

Ngatia took over from the immediate former EACCIA President Hon Toufiq Salim TURKY. He noted that while strides have been taken towards realizing an East African single market, the full potential of the Customs Union and Common Market awaits realization.

“Collaborative efforts among governments, the business community, and the private sector are imperative to address regional challenges. EACCIA will advocate for tariff elimination and collaborate with regional government institutions to harmonize trade policies, standards, and regulations,” Ngatia noted.

He called on the region to harness the AfCFTA, leveraging its myriad of opportunities to expand trade beyond borders to establish a robust foundation for long-term collaboration and partnerships.

Elizabeth Wasunna, the Business Banking Director at Absa Bank Kenya PLC, who were the lead sponsors of the event noted that Absa was proud to be associated with the conference which seeks to foster intra-African trade and the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area through business partnerships.                                                                                               

“As a Pan-African Bank that drives innovative solutions, we strongly believe in Africa’s immense growth potential. Looking at some statistics, today, Africa is home to a rapidly urbanising population of approximately 1.2 billion people which is expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050. It will also be home to the world’s largest working-age population by 2040, surpassing China and India,” Wasunna said.                                    

Wasunna said that as the continent’s economy grows, a study conducted by McKinsey shows that the 250 million Africans will join the consuming class by 2030 and unlock $3 trillion in consumer spending. The numbers I have just detailed are proof that Africa presents a huge market and investment opportunities. 

And as such, Absa hasa maintained a strong inclination and commitment towards expanding the role, influence, and success of businesses from small enterprises to large corporates in keeping with our purpose which is to empower Africa’s tomorrow, together… one story at a time. Our participation in this important conference thus goes further to cement our commitment towards our purpose and agenda for Africa.

“Absa has over the years provided trade solutions and advisory services that have enabled businesses to safely and efficiently source inputs in different markets while at the same time opened up new export markets to clients. As an example, we offer pre-shipment financing for businesses exporting across borders. By offering appropriate banking products and services, we partner with clients to mitigate the inherent challenges and risks involved in cross border trade,” Wasunna said.

“As another example of how we support cross broader trade, Absa is keen to support ongoing stakeholder efforts to adopt the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which is a cross-border financial market infrastructure that facilitates payment transactions across Africa,” she added.

On unlocking access to credit for SMEs, Wasunna noted that over the years, Absa Bank has been deliberate on undertaking a comprehensive understanding of the challenges that SMEs across the continent face in accessing credit. As one of the ways through which we unlock the availability of credit for SMEs, we have partnered with the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF) to boost credit accessibility for local small businesses, including start-ups. Through this AGF program, the bank is able to avail up to KES 100 million (equivalent to nearly US $ 652,000) in single obligor limits for guarantee cover.

The bank also is in support of  Women in Business having  a  strong inclination towards Women in Business, Studies have shown that while women form over 50% of the local and global population and account for a significant percentage of the global GDP (37%), their participation in the national economic development is often stifled by limited access to financial resources and social-cultural restrictions that hinder their access to collateral to access credit. Among others, women entrepreneurs fail even to apply for loans because of such factors as low financial literacy, risk aversion, and fear of failure.

To put this into perspective, a study conducted by the African Development Bank in 2019 drawn from the credit markets of 47 African countries found out that women entrepreneurs in Africa are more likely to self-select out of the credit market because of low perceived creditworthiness. These women did not apply for loans or lines of credit because they were discouraged by their own perception that their applications would be denied. The study further estimated a $42 billion financing gap for African women across business value chains, including $15.6 billion in agriculture alone.

It is against this backdrop that Absa developed the SHE (See Her Empowered) Business proposition which is a bespoke product to support Women in Business. Absa’s women in business proposition targets to increase credit facilities to women alongside, providing them with technical and non-financial support.

“Since the inception of the SHE Business account, we have opened close to 15,000 new business accounts for women, and have lent over KES 5.78 Billion out of the 10 Billion Kitty we launched for women in 2021. Furthermore, we have new deposits from the women entrepreneurs close to KES 5 billion. Since 2016, we have also been partnering with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to equip 10,000 women entrepreneurs under the SHE Trades Programme with new skills and connect them to the international market. Overall, each year, we are impacting over 20,000 women in our different interventions. This proposition undoubtedly continues to give us an edge in the market,” Wasunna added.

The success of the event was attributed to the much generosity of lead sponsors ABSA Bank and Nation Media Group, as well as other partners, and esteemed delegates present.

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