The World Export Development Forum (WEDF), a flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), is bringing its 14th edition to Africa, with a dedicated focus on entrepreneurs.
Dedicated to supporting trade-led inclusive and sustainable development, the forum will be held in Africa for the first time, and is slated to take place in Kigali, Rwanda on 16-17 September, under the theme SMEs: Creating jobs through trade.
Besides, participants at the 14th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) will have the opportunity to hear expert views from entrepreneurs, policymakers and representatives of trade support institutions on how both new technology and traditional sectors can help promote growth.
Speakers include the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Editor of the Financial Times.
SMEs are the backbone of the global economy, especially in developing countries, where they contribute two-thirds of employment.
Their role is even more important in least developed countries, where they account for 80% of jobs and are key to inclusive growth. Increased participation of SMEs in regional and global trade leads to improved livelihoods for a large segment of the population, including for women and youth.
SMEs’ contribution to job creation in developing countries is thus essential. They will be a key source of employment as 500 million men and women enter the global labour market by 2030.
Among the confirmed speakers at the event with focus on entrepreneurial experiences is Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group, which has activities ranging from real estate and tourism to financial services, information and communications technology, renewable energy and manufacturing.
The company operates in 18 African countries and has a foundation to support emerging African entrepreneurs.
Experts working in emerging sectors, such as electronic commerce and mobile technology, will comment on the potential for economic growth in these areas.
Speakers at WEDF will also come from international organizations, including Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Anabel González, Senior Trade and Competitiveness Director at the World Bank; Márcio Favilla Lucca de Paula, Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations at the World Tourism Organization; and Aeneas C. Chuma, Regional Director for Africa at the International Labour Organization.
Among the many high-ranking ministry officials speaking at the event are François Kanimba, the Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry; Phyllis Kandie, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism of Kenya; and Humberto Santos de Brito, the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Energy of Cape Verde.
Representatives of trade support institutions who will speak at WEDF include Mulu Solomon, the Honorary President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations; Richard Sezibera, Secretary-General of the East African Community; and Bandula Egodage, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board.
WEDF is a unique global forum dedicated to discussing innovations in export development and export competitiveness, and to identifying and analyzing the challenges faced by developing countries and economies in transition.
WEDF will bring together over 500 senior national and international policymakers, heads of trade support organizations, business leaders and representatives of international agencies. Through a varied programme, participants will increase their practical knowledge in the latest innovations, processes and policies, and establish new partnerships and contacts through networking.