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Economic Opportunities of Megacities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Economic Opportunities of Megacities in Sub-Saharan Africa

The uninterrupted flow of people from rural communities to urban areas has remarkably increased over the past 100 years worldwide. This migration trend, leading to the formation of megacities, will continue over the next decade with 60 percent of the world population expected to live in urban areas by 2030 based on projections from the United Nations (UN).

The UN defines megacity as a metropolitan area with population of over ten million residents. Euromonitor International reported that 33 of such cities exist in the world as of 2017. If the threshold is lowered to five million, the number of qualified cities goes up to 47. Between now and 2030, the significance of megacities in global economic affairs will continue to rise. Megacities will alter the economic landscape of the world as 15 percent of world GDP will come from these cities. Developing countries, which currently have the highest number of megacities, 26 out of 33, will play a dominant role.

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), high youth population continues to fuel urbanization since young people are always seeking the excitement of urban life, job opportunities and higher quality of life. Mckinsey Global Institute is forecasting that African cities with more than five million inhabitants will rise from six in 2015 to 17 by 2030 and cities with over ten million people will increase from three to five, adding Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Luanda, Angola to the region’s current megacities of Cairo – Egypt, Kinshasa – Congo DRC and Lagos – Nigeria.

By projection, Luanda would increase its population by 60 percent, Cairo would add 6.3 million inhabitants to become Africa’s largest megacity with about 30 million people and Nigeria’s urban size would grow by nine percent over the next decade. In addition, 89 African cities across the continent will have population of 1 million or more according to Mckinsey Global Institute. Although the middle class emerging from this pattern of urbanization will drive strong economic growth in the future, additional burdens that will come with high density living demand urgent attention to limit economic, social and environmental hardships such as traffic congestion, pollution, income inequality and high crime rate.

Based on this imminent urban population surge, the affected countries are seeking solution-based engagements with both local entrepreneurs and foreign investors to provide infrastructure upgrade and contemporary urban planning. Existing and upcoming megacities in the continent require coordinated investments in housing, healthcare, sanitation and waste management, energy, clean water supply and education including transportation facilities that would boost access to regional and global markets. It is the only way to achieve the productivity gains that other developing regions have achieved through urbanization.

This urbanization trend presents a unique opportunity to U.S. service and infrastructure companies with appetite for business expansion in Africa. Already many Asian companies, especially Singaporeans, have taken advantage of this situation to establish strong presence in Africa’s city-planning sector.

Surbana Jurong, Meinhardt and Hyflux are Singaporean firms leveraging their domestic experience to solve urban-infrastructure problems in Africa. Evidently African stakeholders are engaging them in planning for the future of cities facing unprecedented pressure. From Surbana Jurong’s city planning of Kigali, Rwanda, the sewage treatment systems in Nairobi, Kenya, the master planning of Lekki new township in Lagos, Nigeria to Hyflux’s multi-billion dollar development of infrastructure, utilities and environmental solutions for the Star City township project in Morogoro, Tanzania, these companies are making impact in urban planning and city development projects across Africa.

Africa offers extraordinary opportunities for those who are prepared to overcome short-term difficulties. It is extremely important for American companies to understand the geography of Africa’s growing cities and deploy strategies to succeed in this very dynamic and evolving business environment.

Kemi Arosanyin is an International Trade Development Specialist and Director, Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

What to Expect from Sub-Saharan Africa Economy in 2019

The IMF economic outlook presents a picture of what to expect from each economy or region annually. For Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2019, a GDP growth rate of 3.4 percent is projected at the aggregate level; a slight improvement over the 2.9 percent actual growth rate of 2018. Poor performance in the three big economies (Angola, Nigeria and South Africa) continues to weigh down the overall economic position of the region. Thus, when excluded, the growth projection for the rest of SSA rises above 5 percent since eighteen out of forty-five countries are anticipated to grow at five percent or higher in 2019. Over the last few years, countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, and Tanzania have consistently exceeded the region’s average GDP growth rate.
Sub-Saharan Africa has continued to recover from the commodities market crash that brought its GDP growth rate down to 1.4 percent in 2016; its lowest level in decades. This growth pattern is influenced by a combination of factors which include improved global economy, increased public investment, strong agricultural production, relatively stable political environment across the continent and more. Improvements in policy frameworks and economic reforms also played an important role in the progress recorded. World Bank Doing Business 2019 reported that one out of three of all business regulatory improvements captured between June 2017 and May 2018 were in SSA. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the region with the highest number of reforms every year in the last seven years.
Although the Doing Business annual report is not the only measure of a country’s competitiveness since it is limited in scope and does not take into account other key market determinants such as market size, macroeconomic conditions, foreign investment, security and political stability. However, it provides valuable information to market players about government’s willingness and efforts to create a conducive marketplace for business.
The private sector, especially the service industry, is the largest beneficiary of the improved business environment contributing more than half of the region’s economic output. The service sector has played a more prominent role with an average growth rate of more than six percent over the last ten years. The region’s growth trend is expected to continue at least in the short and medium term. It is estimated that Africa will have over 160 million people in the middle class by 2030. Transition to middle class will be powered by a huge base of young and working age population which is growing at the rate of 1.7 million per month according to the IFC. Africa offers enormous business and investment opportunities in many sectors including transportation, information and communication technology (ICT), housing and education.
While the region has returned to a path of economic growth, certain conditions can threaten the realization of those projections on the long term – slow growth rate, high debt levels and upcoming elections. The current aggregate GDP growth rate is not strong enough to absorb any sudden economic shock or deliver rapid economic transformation across the continent. Escalating debt levels is very concerning as they pose serious risks to the region. Also, critical elections to watch include Nigeria, Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Namibia. Political situation in SSA has been relatively stable but fragile. Power shifts sometimes come with policy reversals; this can erode investors’ confidence in the market and adversely affect economic growth. Nevertheless, Africa remains a key destination for growth and market expansion.

Top African Economic Performers of 2018-2019

Table: Brookings Institute

Kemi Arosanyin is an International Trade Development Specialist and Director, Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Advancing Global and Regional Trade in Africa through Intra-African Trade Fair

December 11-17, 2018 at the Egypt International Exhibition Center in Cairo, all 55 African countries will converge for the first edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF). This is an initiative of the Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and supported by other partners around the world including the World Trade Center Miami.

Afreximbank, the convener of the trade fair, intends to use this platform to address the market information gap which in part is responsible for poor regional trade in Africa. Building a platform which provides access to the exchange of trade and market information will support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) currently being negotiated aims to establish an open market for goods, services and business persons within the continent. Even though the CFTA agreement has been signed by about eighty percent of the countries in Africa, the road to its full implementation is still far ahead.


The process of market and economic integration is complicated everywhere in the world and particularly in Africa where poor levels of industrialization and openness, lack of dispute management mechanisms and intellectual property protections remain major roadblocks. Nevertheless, market integration is extremely important and in fact, a survival strategy for Africa. From Cape to Cairo, the continent is too fragmented in many ways – the economy, landscape and logistics, to make any meaningful improvement on economic development and hinterland connectivity.

The good news is, despite all the challenges associated with doing business in Africa, economic integration is already happening through African corporate entrepreneurs and multinational corporations. A report on “Pioneering One Africa” by the Boston Consulting Group named 150 companies, 75 African companies and 75 multinational companies who are driving the Pan-African market and economic integration.

African airlines, financial institutions, telecoms operators and media companies are accelerating intra-African connectivity and market integration by expanding their operational network to many countries across Africa. Over the last decade, Africa has seen growth in the number of air routes by local airlines, bank branch network and telecommunications operations. For example, Ethiopian airlines serves about 40 destinations in the region while the United Bank for Africa (UBA) has branches in 19 African countries. The progress being made by these companies shows that a continental single market for Africa is not impossible.

To continue the market and economic integration pioneered by these local and multinational companies, a multi-dimensional approach is required by all stakeholders. One approach which has proven to be an effective tool for trade development is trade fairs where businesses engage face to face. The Intra-African Trade Fair will help African countries to develop closer economic ties and harmonize their regulatory procedures thereby leading to increased global and regional trade.

The multi-sector Intra-African Trade Fair anticipates over $25 billion worth of trade and investment deals from 70,000 attendees featuring country pavilions for African and non-African countries. Other sideline events include engagement sessions with leaders and top government officials.

The trade fair is a gateway into the African single market of over one billion people. It will not only boost trade within Africa, American companies and other global market players can leverage this unprecedented market entry opportunity to grow their network and expand business interests to Africa.


 Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and Director, Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.


Africa FTA would facilitate more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Understanding the African Continental Free Trade Area

When analyzed independently, many African countries may not be economically viable and attractive to global market players. However, under the single market framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA), the continent’s prospect for global production, value chain management and consumption capacity rises.

What does AfCFTA mean?

The proposed Continental Free Trade Area (CTFA) for Africa is a market integration agreement that presents an equal opportunity open market to all participating countries in the region. The plan would substantially remove obstructions to movement of goods and services across the continent at the initial implementation stage with the hope of progressing into a customs union with free movement of capital and business persons.

This initiative is essentially driven by the potential of creating an enlarged marketplace of 1.2 billion people for all the 55 nations of Africa. Benefits anticipated by the promoters of the idea include a boost to intra-African trade and by extension industrial development, economic diversification and economic growth among other key advantages. The CFTA is also expected to amplify Africa’s market and economic possibilities to the rest of the world and particularly to global investors.

Although the overall concept is to create a level playing field for everyone, the gains for each country however will be unequal depending on each country’s level of preparedness in terms of institutional and developmental priorities over the years.

Implications for other global markets

The implementation, enforcement and monitoring of such agreements is very complex and more so in a place with poor regional coordination. When fully implemented, the CFTA will be a binding force and it will significantly impact how individual countries negotiate with the rest of the world in terms of trade agreements. Presently each African country and regional bloc has several trade agreements with other global markets; some of these agreements will have to be renegotiated to recognize the existence of the CFTA.

Under the CFTA, African leaders will have a stronger bargaining power on all continental and global trade issues. An indication of this strength manifested in a recent interview with David Luke, Coordinator of African Trade Policy Center at UNECA, who said “Gone are the days when larger economies pick us off individually; now they will have to deal with us all equally or not at all”.

Considering how advanced economies have engaged with Africa in recent past, it appears China foresaw its current trade faceoff with the United States and has been preparing a soft landing in Africa. The volume of US-China trade of $635 billion is nothing compared to China’s trade of $170 billion with Africa but in a worst-case scenario of prolonged irreconcilable differences between the two countries, China would probably have more leverage to explore alternative trade routes globally.

While China accelerated its global engagements beyond the US market and especially with Africa, US- Africa trade relations has been passive with total trade volume of $55 billion in 2017.

Now that the US government is reviewing its global trade relationships, several stakeholders have called on the administration not to neglect Africa, the future global production power house, or continue to sit on the sidelines while competition from China, the EU and other places take over the market.

This appeal needs to be sustained. The United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross got the message. He visited four Sub-Saharan African countries last month and announced deals of $1 billion. The CFTA will be a major shift in the global trading landscape; it will be interesting to see how global markets respond to this development.

Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and the Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Expansions will allow ports to handle more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Trade Transformation in Africa (2): The Infrastructure Agenda

One major factor that has continued to stigmatize the continent of Africa is lack of infrastructure. The African Development Bank (AFDB) reported that Africa has an infrastructure gap that would require approximately $112 billion per year over the next decade to fix. This situation explains why both intra-and extra-African trade has been negatively impacted over the years. The development of infrastructure in the transport sector including rail systems, roads, new maritime routes and ports expansion, are crucial to trade facilitation and economic growth.

Now, it appears this critical issue is receiving some attention following an aggressive push from all stakeholders including multilateral agencies. Many African countries have started addressing this challenge as we have seen turnkey projects being undertaken across the region through different partnership vehicles and financial models. According to Deloitte’s Africa Construction Trends (ACT) report of 2017, 303 projects valued at $307 billion are currently ongoing in the continent with Transport and Power sectors dominating.

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing unprecedented magnitude of infrastructural development in the transportation industry especially railways. In East Africa – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania have launched major transportation programs linking ports expansion to modern rail systems and road networks to facilitate easy access to market.

To reference a few of these key projects, under the East African Railway Master Plan, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) system connecting port of Mombasa to Nairobi will eventually be extended to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. This megaproject is currently transforming logistics in the sub-region.

Ports expansion is an important part of Africa’s infrastructure program with new projects and upgrade of existing ports valued in the billions. Djibouti has a geostrategic location that provides easy connectivity to several global markets. The country has embarked on a maritime infrastructure modernization plan of over $650 million to enhance its gateway status.

Tanzania is deepening existing berths and committing another $10 billion in the construction of a new port that will be operational by 2020. Mozambique has already invested $800 million out of a budget of $2 billion to increase capacity and efficiency of its Maputo port. Ghana is spending about $1.5 billion to upgrade and expand its Tema port to enhance annual handling capacity by 2019 and become the largest container facility in West Africa.

Apart from on-going projects that are largely funded and handled by China, opportunities abound for investors from other regions of the world. The construction market is booming and this trend is projected to continue since the 2040 vision for Africa’s transport sector focuses on integrating the continent through transport infrastructure.

Due to the complex nature of megaprojects, the number of smaller value projects has increased. Deloitte further reported that out of the 303 projects currently running in Africa, 193 of them fall within the range of $50 million to $500 million. Many of these projects are structured through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement and this shows how private sector engagement can expedite infrastructural transformation.

To further accelerate the infrastructure agenda, the African Development Bank is launching a unique Africa Investment Forum where bankable projects will be presented to investors. The first business meeting which will strictly focus on discussing viable projects across the continent is scheduled for November in South Africa. This presents an opportunity for U.S. investors and other international infrastructure development companies to understand the dynamics of doing business in Africa and leverage the current momentum.

Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and the director for the Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Asian countries have more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade with Africa.

Is Africa Really a S**thole?

Africa was recently described in a particular way that has again brought the issue of perception about the continent to the fore. Depending on the point of reference, there is no right or wrong opinion about the remark. While the magnitude of infrastructure deficit in the region seem to support such expression, other indices like the entrepreneurial ecosystem, size of the consumer market, young workforce and high yield investment possibilities weaken that opinion.

Evidently key market players from Asia (China, India, Japan, and Singapore), who are accelerating their engagements with the continent, see Africa differently. They see a promising continent with economic resilience and vast investment opportunities. They see Africa as an interesting prospect for high value production. Thus, greenfield foreign direct investment into Africa from Asia has remained strong.

China sees the potential in a continent where the middle class bracket is expanding and consumer purchasing power is rising. They see Africans who lack access to basic financing—mortgages, loans, and credit card systems—but pay cash to build or buy houses, personal cars and other luxury items. Thus, China’s commercial enterprise in Africa has continued to grow, being the largest trading partner with total trade of $149 billion in 2016.

India sees an opportunity in the African healthcare sector following a significant increase in medical tourism from the continent to India. It was reported that 18,000 Nigerians spent $260 million on medical tourism to India in 2012 while East Africans spent $1 billion on Indian healthcare. Consequently, Indian healthcare operators are committing sizeable investments in Africa, building and opening facilities and forming alliances with the local health sector. Today, India is the second largest trading partner with $59 billion bilateral trade volume in 2015 and the AFDB has projected that India’s trade with Africa will reach over $100 billion by 2020.

Africa occupies a central role in the growth strategies of many Asian countries. China continues its strategic positioning in Africa by aggressively pushing its Belt and Road initiative while Japan and India have teamed up on their African strategy to establish a joint initiative called Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) to challenge China’s dominance in the region. Likewise, Singapore is pursuing an aggressive plan within its overall growth strategy to expand its previous African endeavors and look beyond their traditional trading partners in Asia. Its bilateral trade with Africa has progressed at an annual rate of 5.2 percent since 2005.

Unfortunately trade between the US and Africa has continued to be sluggish despite high momentum elsewhere. The inherent perception issues and fixation on risks and challenges have clouded the judgment of many American companies about opportunities in the market. While many US companies have an overly analytical and overly risk conscious approach towards Africa, Asians have a much more ambitious and strategic perspective.

The continent remains attractive to investors particularly manufacturers at the forefront of global supply chains seeking new markets, new opportunities and new grounds to break. American companies need a revolution in their perception of Africa to connect more with a continent that is rapidly adjusting to the global business environment.

Regardless of what one sees in Africa, whether the challenges or the opportunities, in ten years, it will be obvious that neglecting the African market was a strategy failure.

Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and the Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is emerging from a slowdown in shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Understanding the Sub-Saharan African Business Environment in 2018

The Sub-Saharan African (SSA) business environment, which offers great opportunities for trade and investment, is not so complicated to understand after all. The economic slowdown which became obvious in the region in 2015 is gradually subsiding. However, the fundamental factors responsible for the situation still exist.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a GDP growth rate of 2.4 percent in 2017, an improvement from the 1.3 percent of 2016, but still far below historical trends over the last decade. The gain came from rising commodity prices, improved climate conditions in east and southern Africa and a friendlier global environment.

The economic struggles of the two largest economies in the continent (Nigeria and South Africa) weighed down the regional performance at aggregate level. The good news is, these two countries are on a recovery path and expected to rebound in 2018 going by the recently-released World Bank flagship report on Global Economic Prospects. Nigeria has just exited a five-quarter recession while South Africa has pulled through two quarters of negative growth.

TOP AFRICAN ECONOMIC GROWTH PERFORMERS, 2017-2018 Source: IMF Regional Economic Outlook, October 2017. Table: Brookings – Foresight Africa













Isolating these two heavyweights responsible for the weak overall performance, in other places, growth continued at higher rates across the continent. Ethiopia is the fastest growing economy in SSA at an average growth rate of 8.5 percent over the last three years. Its investment in infrastructure is paying off. Ghana witnessed stable growth at 6.1 percent in 2017 and projected to be significantly higher in 2018. Improvement in crop production and public investment facilitated economic progress in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire while Tanzania and Kenya also have strong projections.

Moving forward, the outlook for SSA is positive with a growth projection of 3.2 percent in 2018 and 3.5 percent in 2019. Eighteen out of the forty-three countries captured in the World Bank economic forecast will grow at 5 percent or above in 2018. Although this optimism is premised on key factors such as sustained higher commodity prices and macro-economic reforms, economic activities are general improving and the worst economic seasons appear to be over for the region.

The political restructuring sweeping through the continent has increased political and social pressure on governments to address past market failures. Thus, policy directions are changing, reforms are being undertaken and conducive regulatory environments are being created to unlock private investments. SSA continues to be the region implementing the highest number of reforms according to the World Bank Doing Business 2018 report.

Also, we have seen strong efforts towards building physical infrastructure through public-private partnerships in some countries. Poor infrastructure in the region depresses productivity growth rate by two percent per year as reported by AFDB in 2016. A successful execution of these agenda is critical to the economic prosperity of the continent.

Considering these positive indicators, investors searching for global opportunities should reassess the continent for their long term investment portfolio.

Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and the Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Expansions will allow African ports to handle more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

African Ports Transformation and PortMiami’s Strategic Partnership

A key component of Africa’s trade transformation agenda is the upgrade of its transportation infrastructure, particularly its ports. According to a recent report, Africa’s port capacity utilization has now exceeded 70 percent, resulting in congestion and making it more costly to handle higher volumes of trade.

The African Ports Evolution conference scheduled for October 17-18, 2017 in Durban, South Africa will focus on “unlocking Africa’s economic potential through port development and optimization.” As the need for trade transformation—increases in port connectivity and cargo throughput—gains momentum across the continent, various stakeholders are leveraging the opportunity to increase their business interests and visibility in the region.

PortMiami is aggressively pursuing a strategic alliance with African ports, based on Miami’s geographical positioning to become Africa’s Gateway to the Americas. International trade is an integral part of Florida’s economy and PortMiami is a major driving force for trade in the state, contributing over $41 billion to the local economy annually. The port is recognized as a global gateway for trade, commerce, travel, and tourism, as well as the cruise capital of the world.

PortMiami is participating and playing an important role at the African Ports Evolution conference presenting itself as a case study for designing and constructing future ports in Africa. This session will discuss infrastructure requirements for African ports, analyze best practices from PortMiami for sustainable port development and it will emphasize the use of latest technology to drive port efficiency and optimization.

African ports confront similar conundrums as PortMiami. The port is constantly improving and upgrading its infrastructure. It recently completed series of capital improvements totaling about $1 billion. These upgrades included 52-feet dredging of the main channel, construction of a new tunnel that provides direct access to the terminals and the US Interstate Highway System, modernization of on-dock rail connecting to the national rail system, and acquisition of new gantry cranes that can handle larger neopanamax ships.

PortMiami has demonstrated strong interest in deepening engagement with Africa having already established sister-port relationship with fourteen African ports. In addition, port officials visited five African countries—Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa—in May 2017. It recently hosted delegates from Port of Dakar, Senegal, in Miami and is now planning to host a PortMiami-African Ports Directors’ Forum in 2018.

With this strategic partnership between PortMiami and African Ports, African trade is on track for global integration.

Kemi Arosanyin is a Global Trade contributor and the Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Miami is a natural gateway for African companies interested in shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Miami: Africa’s Gateway to the Americas

Geographic location plays an important role in international trade, a fact that makes it challenging for landlocked countries to significantly grow trade. Location impacts how easily businesses can reach international markets and how quickly they can access their customers and acquire new ones.

Miami, Florida, is recognized globally as the trade and logistics gateway of the Americas (North America, South America and the Caribbean). This is largely due to its strategic location at the epicenter of the Western Hemisphere.

The same advantages which position Miami as an Americas hub also presents opportunities for concerns in sub-Saharan Africa seeking to penetrate Western Hemisphere markets. This is also an opportunity for investors and service providers, subjects which are currently under discussion.

Miami has a natural ecosystem that favors trade and tourism: proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean, a multicultural and multilingual workforce, high concentrations of corporate and financial resources, and its location in Florida, the third largest state in the US with a population of over 20 million. Florida has the fourth largest economy in the nation, it is the sixth largest exporting state, it has the second largest foreign trade zone network and it has a thriving tourism industry. With favorable weather condition all year round, it is a preferred vacation destination receiving over 100 million visitors annually.

Apart from Miami’s unique location, other factors that contributed to its branding as a global trade hub include a robust trade and infrastructure system. Miami has integrated multi-modal transportation systems and these facilities go through regular optimization upgrades. Miami International Airport (MIA) is ranked # 1 in the US for international air cargo and # 10 globally. It is served by more than 100 airlines and generates over $33 billion in annual revenue. Also, PortMiami is a global gateway for trade and tourism, the “Cruise Capital of the World,” with annual economic impact of over $41 billion.

In addition, Miami has a rich network of international trade and economic development agencies with 70 foreign consular offices, many chambers of commerce including bi-national chambers as well as over 1500 multinational corporations. These organizations have worked together over the years to develop the city’s unique brand, create a strong platform for global trade and make Miami an attractive place to live, work and play.

Interestingly, Miami’s bearing on the global map also positions it as the premier gateway for two-way trade between Africa and the Americas market, being the closest US city to mainland West Africa. Specifically, direct air distance from Miami, Florida to Dakar, Senegal is about 4,110 miles which takes approximately eight and a half hours on a non- stop flight.

However, such direct air connection does not currently exist. This is an opportunity for investors and African airlines to develop the connection for both passenger and cargo. MIA is exploring options to establish direct flights to Africa in its effort to expand global route network.

This Miami-Africa proximity advantage has been the focal point of discussions at forums and on trade missions lately and many trade development organizations in Miami are intensifying efforts to create the bridge for trade expansion into Africa.

For example, Enterprise Florida (EFI), Miami-Dade County, World Trade Center Miami (WTCM) and a network of other trade development institutions are helping businesses to create new market access and increase two-way trade with Africa. In March 2017, EFI embarked on a trade mission to South Africa with a team of 18 companies. In May 2017, a joint effort of the office of Economic Development & International Trade of Miami-Dade County and PortMiami facilitated a trade mission to five African countries – Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. Also, in June 2017, the WTCM launched a new program that will enhance market access for goods originating from Africa into the Americas market. This was done in addition to creating a dedicated pavilion for Africa at its annual Americas Food and Beverage Show and Conference.

Global access continues to be a key component to success in today’s international business environment. Miami perhaps has the easiest accessibility to multiple markets in the Americas and this is the time for African countries to leverage this advantage for market connectivity.

Sub-Saharan African countries currently benefiting under the African Growth and Opportunity Act need to start thinking beyond the market scope that AGOA provides. While AGOA offers market access to the United States, using Miami as a gateway to the Americas would extend Africa’s reach to other regions such as the high-potential South America and the Caribbean markets.

Kemi Arosanyin is an International Trade Development Specialist and Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

regional integration in Africa would yield more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Trade Transformation in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region that has been plagued with poor infrastructure for trade facilitation, weak export development programs, poorly funded trade institutions and lack of effective coordination among the key regional economic communities in order to advance intra-African trade which remained relatively poor at 15 percent in 2016 compared to intra-regional trade in other parts of the world.

Despite Africa’s enormous potential and opportunities for strong integration into the global market, the continent faces challenges that are primarily due to lack of political will to implement strategies that can enhance trade, poor funding of export promotion programs, and agencies thereby rendering those institutions incapacitated to deliver on their primary mandates of growing exports for the region, insufficient government support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), lack of visibility for goods originating from the continent and low quality products thereby complicating the process of scaling regulatory compliance issues within and outside the region.

However, there seems to be a ray of hope in addressing some of these issues with African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) ongoing efforts and commitment to transform trade in Africa. Although the bank is traditionally a multilateral trade finance institution, it recently designed and launched a five-year strategic plan which focuses on improving regional and intra-African trade, supporting industrialization and export development, as well as increasing financial intervention for SMEs in the export supply chain segment to reduce the existing trade finance gap.

Afreximbank has commenced the implementation of this strategic plan through an array of initiatives. In order to pursue its intra-African trade agenda, during the bank’s recently held Annual General Meeting (AGM), it brought together a group of select intra-African trade champions such as Dangote group of Nigeria and Elsewedy of Egypt as well as other multinational companies operating in the region at a roundtable to discuss practical solutions to issues limiting trade within the continent.

Under the industrialization and export development program, it started initiatives such as: the Africa cocoa initiative (Africoin), a value addition process to de-commoditize cocoa and other agri-products, the fund for Africa export development (FunFed), an increased financing of logistics infrastructure such as shipping and cargo handling companies, the creation and funding of special economic zones and development of industrial parks across Africa. These industrial parks and special economic zones will expand Africa’s production base and offer investment opportunities in the manufacturing sector to both local entrepreneurs and foreign investors.

Also, the bank recognizes the complexity of these tasks; thus it is collaborating with all stakeholders and forming international alliances to facilitate global market access for Made in Africa products. For instance, Afreximbank newly engaged in a partnership arrangement with the World Trade Center Miami (WTCM), an organization that promotes two-way trade between the western hemisphere and other global markets, to provide market access into the Americas and consequently advance trade between Africa and the Americas. Hence, the WTCM has designed a specialized export development program for the continent to provide accelerated market integration for African businesses using various trade promotion platforms.

The key pillars of Afreximbank’s strategic framework encompasses all the critical areas of trade transformation program which include advocating for initiatives that would increase intra-regional trade, pushing for the harmonization of standards and customs procedures in the region, campaigning for value addition and de-commoditization as well as financing projects that will support structural trade transformation. With this bold and aggressive drive from Afreximbank, there is hope for Africa.

Kemi Arosanyin is an International Trade Development Specialist and Director for Africa Trade Expansion Program at the World Trade Center Miami. She writes, speaks, and advises on trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.