Great news for Cape Town and the Western Cape courtesy of Cape Business News.

Cape Town is set to be the launch pad for a sub-Saharan African initiative to accommodate and expand trade with the rest of the world.

This follows a private sector initiative by top business executives from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to establish a number of World Trade Centers on the continent. As such, Cape Town has become the first city in Africa to give rise to the process.

According to Julius Steyn, CEO of the World Trade Center Africa, the first foundation for these African World Trade Centers was already laid in Cape Town and they are now ready to start doing business in all earnest.

Introducing the World Trade Center Cape Town to the media at Century City, he said that it all revolves around stimulating trade in Africa. 

Research indicates that the compounded growth rate of sub-Saharan Africa will amount to 4% per year from 2011 to 2020, which will add about $2,8 trillion to the region in value. The centers aim to facilitate up to 1% of this growth within five years, which will amount to about $70 billion. This will be three times more than the annual donations made by the G8 countries to Africa and 16% more than what is needed to eliminate poverty.  

“A World Trade Center basically consists of a building wherein all business and trade activities of different countries are assembled to promote trade between private sector entities.

“Such a center is completely neutral to politics and rests on the principle that people want to do business in a face-to-face manner. It is a process that cannot be fully accommodated by e-commerce. 

“For Cape Town this will mean that local business people can make contact with overseas colleagues on home ground, while foreign business people can in turn acquire local contacts,” Steyn said.

A World Trade Center consists basically of three components, of which the first relates to the travel arrangements of people intent on trade between countries. This consists mainly of trade missions where contact is established between specific people. A World Trade Center provides the infrastructure to accommodate this process.

Secondly, a World Trade Center offers business people the opportunity to showcase their products. With what is planned for Africa, the continent will be in a position to showcase its products as part of the World Trade Center network in more than 300 cities worldwide.

Steyn emphasised that the World Trade Center is complementary to efforts by government and semi-government organisations to promote trade. Because it is a private sector initiative however, the center is able to provide for greater volumes in trade and is more commercial in nature. Any business entity can participate in the center’s business activities. 

The third component consists of facilitating the trade process. This relates mainly to the physical conclusion of transactions between clients of trade centers, which can comprise the facilitation of a simple transaction between two parties to more complex transactions where financing of the respective transaction is involved.

Also of great value for business people is the market research shared real-time between centers and which is made available to clients of such a center. This information is usually not older than 24 hours and contains, for example, all the trade agreements between countries worldwide. It consists of some 22 000 trade contracts between countries whereby more than 20 000 line-items are involved.

This type of information helps executives to establish trouble-free transactions and to avoid problems that may arise from sundry trade requirements that may have fines involved.

“With the establishment of a World Trade Center in Cape Town an effort has begun to bring together the private sectors, with the support of their governments, in a politically neutral way of 13 sub-Saharan countries in the SADEC and NEPAD regions to establish a trade block with the rest of the world,” Steyn said.

The countries involved are South Africa, Botswana, DRC, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia and the Republic of Djibouti.