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					     AFRICAN UNION                              UNION AFRICAINE

                                                UNIÃO AFRICANA

P. O. Box 3243, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA Tel.: 00251-11-5517700, ADDIS
                 ABABA Website: www.africa-union.org




                           STATEMENT BY




               H.E. DR. MAXWELL M. MKWEZALAMBA
              COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
                          AFRICAN UNION




     AT THE LAUNCHING CEREMONY OF THE 1ST ETHIO-CHAMBER
         INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION AND CONFERENCE OF
             THE AFRICAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE




                 9TH SEPTEMBER 2008, ADDIS ABABA



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H.E. Ato Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Trade and Industry of the Federal
      Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
H.E. Sahlework Zewde, Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic
      Republic of Ethiopia to the African Union, representing Ato Seyoum
      Mesfin, Minsiter of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of
      Ethiopia
Ato Geatchew Aynew, Preisdent, Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial
      Associations
The Secretary General, Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial
      Associations
Representaives of the Private Sector
Representatives of Civil Society
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen


On behalf of the African Union Commission and indeed on my own behalf, I am
delighted to deliver opening remarks at this launching ceremony of the 1st Ethio-
Chamber International Exhibition and Conference of the African Chambers of
Commerce, taking place here at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia. Please allow me at the outset to commend and congratulate the
Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations for organizing this
important event at the African Union Commission and I take the opportunity to say
warm welcome to the Commission to all of you. The African Union Commission feels
greatly honoured and privileged to host the launching of the 1 st Ethio-Chamber
International Exhibition and the Conference of the African Chambers of Commerce. I
also wish to express sincere gratitude to the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and
Sectorial Associations for inviting the African Union Commission to this very important
Ceremony.


The main objectives of the Exhibition Conference, namely, bringing together all African
products and creating a wide market, and promoting intra-regional trade are indeed
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very timely and important not only to the African private sector, but also to the African
Union Commission. These two objectives are among the activities and programmes of
the African Union Commission. The outcomes of this Conference will, therefore, be
very useful to the Commission in undertaking its work in the area of private sector
development and investment mobilization in Africa. In this regard, the Commission
looks forward to the outcome of this Conference.


The launching and organization of the Conference of African Chambers of Commerce
is a clear manifestation of the determination by the African private sector to promote
Africa’s sustainable economic growth and development and poverty reduction. This is
crucial and important as we strive to attain the Millennium Development Goals by the
target date of 2015. It is my strong conviction that the organization of this Conference
will help African Chambers of Commerce to exchange views and promote dialogue in
a number of areas such as trade promotion, development of small and medium-scale
enterprises (SMEs), promotion of corporate governance, as well as provide an
opportunity to form a common platform to voice out the views and concerns of Africa’s
private sector. We are all cognisant of the fact that many African products continue to
find it very difficult to compete at international markets. We believe this Conference will
go a long way in exchanging views on promoting intra-regional trade in Africa.


The emergence of globalization has created new opportunities and threats. In order to
benefit from the opportunities, African businesses must be prepared to compete
effectively and win market share. This requires risk taking, investing in technology and
developing products that can stand up to competition in the global market place. The
public sector must also be prepared to live up to its responsibility of creating the
enabling environment for business to operate effectively. This is a joint effort and it is
through activities such as the organization of the First Ethio-Chamber International
Exhibition and Conference of African Chambers of Commerce that dialogue between
the private and public sector can be enhanced.



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Excellencies
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen


Opportunities for the African private sector to make an impact on promoting economic
growth and development are huge. However, many challenges need to be addressed
by both governments and the private sector if Africa is to realize this impact. Among
others, African governments need to strengthen business environments through
simplification of rules and regulations; investing in infrastructure, including roads,
power and telecommunications; encourage the private sector to participate in the
formulation of policies which are more related to private sector development; and build
networks and linkages with the private sector outside Africa.


In an effort to address the aforementioned challenges, the African Union Commission
continues to play its leadership role in exploring additional potentials for private sector
development. In this vein, the Heads of State and Government, during the 2005 AU
Summit, institutionalized the AU Private Sector Forum. The main objective of the
Forum is to help in mobilization of efforts of the private sector to support the
implementation of its programmes and activities, particularly those related to
promotion of private sector development as well as promotion of dialogue between the
private and public sector aimed at improving the policy environment.


In an effort to build networks and linkages between African private sector and the
private sector outside Africa, the African Union Commission and the European
Commission have facilitated the organization of EU-Africa Business Forum, within the
EU-Africa Strategic Partnership, since 2006. The Forum is convened once every year,
alternatively in Africa and Europe. Major focus during the past two years has been on
entrepreneurship development; interconnectivity (ICT and infrastructure), and trade

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promotion. I wish to call upon all African Chambers of Commerce and their members o
participate more actively in the future EU-Africa Fora.


Further, the African Union Commission has undertaken a study to elaborate a
roadmap for the development of micro-finance for the African continent. The main
objective of the study is to develop micro-finance in Africa in view of its important role
in reducing poverty. In order to obtain views of micro-finance practitioners, the
Commission recently held a workshop in Dakar, Senegal. The Commission is now in
the process of finalizing the study, taking into account the recommendations from the
workshop. Some of the key recommendations of the workshop included requesting
African governments to be involved in the development of micro-finance, especially in
providing a conducive environment for micro-finance, and ensuring the existence of
effective laws that support development of micro-finance; and inviting the African
Union to facilitate the elaboration of an African Micro-finance Charter and an
implementation mechanism as well as the creation of a code of conduct for micro-
finance in Africa.


Access to finance by the private sector remains one of the major challenges facing the
African private sector. In order to assist in addressing this problem, the African Union
Commission has embarked on the process of setting up the African Investment Bank
(AIB), one of the three pan-African financial institutions as contained in the Constitutive
Act of the African Union. We believe that the AIB will help to reduce the financing gap,
which currently exists. We wish to call upon all African Chambers of Commerce,
gathered here, to support the work on the establishment of AIB.


In conclusion, I wish to underscore the commitment of the African Union Commission
to work very closely with the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral
Associations in the organization of the 1st Ethio-Chamber International Exhibition and
Conference of African Chambers of Commerce. So, let us join our hands together for
the success of these events.

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I thank you for your kind attention and wish the First Ethio-Chamber International
Exhibition and Conference of African Chambers of Commerce great success.




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