LCCI holds ‘The Africa Show’

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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’.

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