International Africa Development Forum (FIAD), Casablanca, Morocco. Moroccan banking giant Attijariwafa Bank co-hosted the sixth edition of the International Africa Development Forum (FIAD) under the theme 'When East meets West'. This was not about China or Asia meeting the West but rather, about the continent doing business with itself. Guillaume Weill-Raynal was in Casablanca to find out more.
Attijariwafa liank has a footprint in 14 African countries. Alongside a number of business champions from Morocco, it launched an aggressive expansion plan into W est and Central Africa a little under a decade ago and. more recently, into East Africa.
Still, intra-African trade accounts for only 15% of trade on the continent, compared to 70% in Europe, and the reasons are well-documented poor infrastructure; closed borders; weak manufacturing base: amongst others.
With the International Africa Development Forum, the bank has created a platform to broker deals and accelerate business amongst African entities.
This year's guest of honour was the President ol Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio but a number of countries, including Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon, Egypt and Kenya were represented at senior ministerial level or equivalent. The objective: get African companies to partner, co-invest and expand beyond their borders.
The event brought together 2,000 participants from 34 countries and the organisers said over 7.000 B2B meetings were organised during the two davs of the Forum.
Co-host was investment fund Al Mada (see box overleaf, one of the major shareholders of Attijariwafa Bank, and a driver of Morocco's African investment strategy.
In his remarks. Mohamed El Kettani. President of Attijariwafa Bank, said that this year's Forum was held against a challenging global economic backdrop that required African countries to make the necessary structural reforms and accelerate economic integration.
Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Morocco's Minister of Trade and Industry, echoed this call, calling for greater action and greater coordination amongst African states: "It is up to ns to take the initiative and make things happen. We cannot expect others to do it for us.
"The private sector have understood the benefits of globalisation before we have in government, and these economic operators, be it in cement, in telecoms, in pharmaceuticals, they don't have borders and boundaries. Globalisation can be a great opportunity for us if we manage to organise ourselves."