Building capacity to help Africa trade better

COMESA searching for solutions to transform and sustain competitive businesses


COMESA searching for solutions to transform and sustain competitive businesses

COMESA searching for solutions to transform and sustain competitive businesses

The COMESA-Connect Industry Dialogue set for June 21st to 22nd, in Kigali, will bring together high level technical expertise from the public and private sector to provide common solutions that will prepare, protect, revolutionize and sustain competitive businesses, organizers say.

Formed in December 1994 to replace the Preferential Trade Area, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a free trade area with 19 member states stretching from Libya to Swaziland.

The dialogue themed “Smart Technologies for Sustainable Businesses” will seek to establish collective understanding and strategic focus on the potential of blockchain and other technologies for supporting trade and trade facilitation as well as the other business and industry within the African region and address constraints that affect business competitiveness in the region and promote positive interaction between industry and IT to promote the use of technology and growth of African private sector among others.

Geoffrey Kamanzi, the Private Sector Federation Director of Trade and Business Development, said more than 200 private sector players are expected to attend the event which is co-organised by PSF and the COMESA Business Council (CBC), a private sector institution of COMESA that represents interests of businesses sectors at a regional level.

“It’s majorly aimed at understanding the potential of blockchain and other technologies for supporting business. So, members from various sectors including ICT, manufacturing, finance, Agro- processing, textile and garments and others are expected to attend,” Kamanzi said, further explaining that blockchain is “a modern way of doing business using IT tools – basically, transacting business without using paper money.”

Asked what the PSF especially hopes to again from the dialogue, he said: “Our members will be introduced to modern and secure ways of carrying out businesses and engaging with their partners regionally and internationally than the usual way. So, new trends should be introduced and adopted by our members to facilitate trade generally.”

During the event, the private sector; industry leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, SME businesses and innovators from sectors such as manufacturing, agro-industry and services industries will dialogue with captains of industry in ICT and understand the importance of ICT across many sectors.

Speaking prior to the dialogue, Dr Amany Asfour, the CBC Chairperson, is quoted saying that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a canopy term that highlights all communication activities as well as other technological services in various sectors in industry that enhance business productivity.

“The importance of ICTs in industry cannot be over emphasized because it has the ability to create greater access to information that help businesses to operate efficiently,” Dr. Asfour said.

COMESA Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya, said: “Globally the ICT sector continues to be a key pillar in terms of digital transformation across many other sectors in the modern economy. The competencies in ICT largely contribute to competitiveness of many industries and services in the economy. Therefore, industry must harness and get bulk benefits of the ICT revolution.

It is noted that over the years, trends in ICT keep evolving and its importance on industry effectiveness has had positive impact on various sectors of the economy.

“African economies are also well within the technology playing field. Countries have just grasped the magnitude of importance for systems, units and organizations to collaborate to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Smart synergies are now seen as a tool to eradicate poverty, increase intra- trade, establish strong cross border alliances and increase the continent’s overall trade facilitation systems,” reads part of a press release by the organisers.

As noted, from smart phones to smart homes to smart cars to artificial intelligence, technology is making these tools indispensable for man in every aspect of life. In 2017 alone, the number of mobile phone users across the globe was estimated to be 2.5 billion and in 2018 the number is expected to go higher.

“The number of smart cars been sold annually is rising steadily. Manufacturing and other processing industry is quickly adopting the technology of Industry 4.0 which allows for more efficient business operations and higher quality goods to be produced at a lower cost. This revolution in the manufacturing industry will foster industrial growth and enhance economic development of the sector across the globe.”

The dialogue will also aim to structure policy recommendations to ensure the use of technology address digital financial inclusion, industry competitiveness and revolutionary innovations for competitive sustainable enterprises; address the ideal structures that to ensure data protection policies in the region; and increase awareness and strengthen intellectual property framework.


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