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London Business Matters

14 International February 2017 Peter Bishop’s Addis Ababa diary Addis Ababa (Amharic for new flower) is home to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), reasons for it often to be referred to as the diplomatic capital of Africa as well as the administrative and commercial capital of Ethiopia. I was in town in early December with Martin van der Weide, my World Chambers Federation colleague from the Netherlands, to speak at various import/ export sessions during African Trade Week – see box below. Since I was last here, in the early 90s to set up an international trade centre, the Organisation for African Unity has transitioned into the AU (above) and is based in a 20-storey, $200 million, stateof the-art complex – “China’s gift to Africa” – towering above the sprawling city. The Union’s original objectives inlcuded “to rid the continent of colonisation and apartheid” but now the focus is on “the empowerment of African states in the global economy” and addressing “the multifaceted social, economic and political problems facing the continent”. In their endeavours they are fortunate to be assisted by PACCI – the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, joint-organisers of the trade week – who are bringing the business community’s influence to bear, critical if the objectives are to be achieved. The population of Addis has grown from under two million in 1992 to around 4.5 million now (figures are a bit hazy) and there are some shiny new shopping malls alongside the amiable chaos of the areas of the city that I recognised. Street signs were never Addis’ strong point (rare and, when or if discovered, often misleading or downright contradictory) and I fear that the situation hasn’t been helped by a new set of street names that were introduced in the early 2000s, partly at least replacing colonial names with African ones. The maps of the city are very basic so it is good news that British designer Kirsty Henderson has created a new, illustrated one, too late for my trip alas, which can be accessed at www.mapofaddis.com Not all names have been changed. Merkato (or mercato) – reputedly the biggest outdoor market in Africa, it certainly has a huge array of goods for sale – and the bustling Piazza, linguistically at least recall the Italian occupation of Abyssinia. They appear to make up the main tourist attractions though mainly, I guess, for the huge numbers of aid and Chinese ‘gifts’ help put Ethiopia on right track Trade wins PACCI – the Pan Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry – was a prominent private sector partner in Africa Trade Week in Addis Ababa, joining forces with the African Union Commission, UNECA, the African Development Bank and the Africa Export-Import Bank to address what is a key issue for the continent – trade development. Growth in trade needs a basis of efficient facilitation procedures and two sessions run by PACCI, the first chaired by their engaging president Dr Appiagyei Dankaowso (also boss of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry) on the single window and electronic business standards for handling imports and exports, addressed this in impressive depth. The second session focussed on the reality that global supply chains demand more efficient licensing and customs processes and faster, more efficient movement of goods to improve trade performance. Other sessions featured the impressive PACCI executive director Kebour Ghenna, a well-known businessman and writer and founder of the educational social enterprise Initiative Africa. Sessions were coordinated by the tireless Leul Wondemeneh, business development manager, and the equally efficient PACCI team, all striving to represent the African voice of business and create jobs, growth and prosperity. African chambers in over 50 countries have varying degrees of involvement in trade facilitation, only some issuing certificates evidencing origin of goods, but all have a role to play connecting suppliers with foreign buyers and business partners. Chamber representatives from around the continent were also keen to make progress on the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area – CFTA – which has been mooted for a number of years but has yet to make a significant leap forward. www.pacci.org


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