LCCI holds ‘The Africa Show’
The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the first-ever ‘Africa Show’ at the Lahore Expo Centre.
As many as 11 Ambassadors and High Commissioners representing African countries visited the show. The one-day Africa Show comprised a conference and exhibition. At the Conference, the Ambassadors of all the African countries working in Pakistan presented their papers on business opportunities in their respective countries and scope for Pakistani businessmen while at the exhibition these countries highlighted the commercial and cultural potential of the African region.
Talking about the objectives of The Africa Show, Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, President, LCCI, Kashif Younis Meher, Senior Vice President, and Zafar Mehmood, Convener of the Committee, said the LCCI wants to give a boost to Pakistan’s business with the African region, as great potential exists on both sides.
They said that Pakistan is a resourcerich country but it is only suffering because of unavailability of information and through this unique African Show in Lahore, the LCCI would be giving all trade-related information to the business community.
They said that the African embassies working in Pakistan have also been asked to share the rules of business in their respective countries with Pakistani businessmen. According to the African ambassadors, the people of Africa desire to have genuine friends across the world and the private sector in Pakistan should take a lead in initiating joint ventures with their African counterparts.
The ambassadors said that they had already started a free trade regime with the Arab world that is also an opportunity for the Pakistani business community. “The Indians and Chinese were already active in the region,” said an envoy, adding, they are, in fact, the leading investors in several African countries.
“My prediction is that the next 50 years belong to Africa,” he said, advising the Pakistanis not to miss this opportunity.
Several Pakistani businessmen were surprised to find that Pakistan lags behind many African countries in exports and not all of them are oil exporters.
They also regretted that they failed to exploit the lucrative African market where imports almost match exports. In an over $300 billion export market in these 11 countries, Pakistan’s cumulative exports is only $755 million, while its imports from the region are nominally over $1 billion.
Husnain Raza Mirza, executive member of the LCCI, said that two-way trade between African countries and Pakistan would benefit both trade partners. He urged Pakistani businessmen to exploit the African trade potential as this region has emerged as the fastest emerging economic region. “For the last two years, Africa has grown at a much faster pace than the average global growth,” he added.
The African ambassadors who visited the LCCI and attended the show at Lahore Expo Centre included Mishi Masika Mwatsahu, High Commissioner of Kenya and Dean of African Ambassadors Group, Ahmed Benflis, Ambassador of Algeria, Mourad Bourchla, Ambassador of Tunisia, Said Mohamed Elsaid Hindam, Ambassador of Egypt, Alshafie Ahmed Mohamed el Tahir, Ambassador of Sudan, Abdelsalam Mahdi Ali Al-Rqxi, Ambassador of Libya, Deepak Prabhakar Gokulsing, Acting High Commissioner of Mauritius, Col. Imran Haider, High Commissioner of South Africa, Ali Sheikh Abdullahi, Ambassador of Somalia and Grema Garba Satom, High Commissioner of Nigeria, while Mohamed Bin Said Bin Mohamed Al-Lawati, Ambassador of Oman attended the show as a special guest.
Kenyan High Commissioner Mishi Masika Mwatsahu announced that Pakistani businessmen who are recommended by the LCCI could obtain visa on arrival in Kenya while the Egyptian and Nigerian ambassadors said they would grant one-year visa to LCCI members.
Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, President, LCCI, called for measures to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Africa to four billion dollars. He said the African countries could greatly benefit from Pakistan’s experience and expertise in the fields of infrastructure development, agriculture, heavy engineering, banking and information technology. “Pakistan’s education sector, particularly professional institutes can provide excellent opportunities to students belonging to the African countries to learn modern sciences and arts.”
Sheikh said both sides needed to work in close collaboration for exploring ways and means to move forward while further bolstering relations with each other on preferential basis.
Earlier, Mishi Masika Mwatsahu and Irfan Qaiser Sheikh jointly inaugurated the African Catalogue Show, witnessed by a number of LCCI members.
‘The Africa Show’ was the third event in a row where diplomats directly interacted with the business community. In April, an OIC conference was organized at Bhurban where the ambassadors of all the 57 Islamic countries took part and had detailed discussions with LCCI members on the available business opportunities and hurdles coming in the way of trade among Muslim countries.
Also, in May, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a dinner for all the foreign ambassadors at the President’s House in Islamabad.
Inauguration ceremony of ‘The Africa Show’.