First Bank of Nigeria Limited, as part of an effort to continue to support businesses to boost the growth and socio-economic development of Africa in today’s fast-evolving business landscape, has sponsored the Africa International Trade Exhibition (A.I.T.E 2023), held on September 21 and 22, 2023, at the Hilton Hotel Midtown, New York, U.S.A.
The event revolved around the theme of “Empowering African SMEs in Global Trade as a Catalyst for the Continent’s Future Prosperity.”
Prominent individuals and dignitaries in attendance included Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, who represented Senator Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria; Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development of Nigeria; Dr. Mariya Mahmoud, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory; His Excellency, Adeyinka Asekun, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada; Hon. Abike Dabiri, the Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission; Ambassador Bolaji Akintemi, the Director of Economic, Trade, and Investment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria; Mr. Olukayode Pitan, the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry; Mrs. Kanayo Awani, the Executive Vice President of Intra-African Trade at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank); Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Group; Mr. Oluwatosin Adewuyi, the Executive Director of Corporate Banking at FirstBank; and Mr. Ini Ebong, the Executive Director of Treasury and International Banking at FirstBank.
Tunde MacAlabi, the visionary behind the African International Trade Exhibition project, stated, “The AITE project aims to assist African SMEs in expanding their presence in the vast North American market. The African American population in the US, totaling 30 million, spends nearly $1.2 trillion as consumers. The growing popularity of Afrobeat music in North America presents an opportunity to promote authentic African products alongside our music, diversifying foreign exchange income for Nigeria and Africa. This private sector initiative complements efforts to enhance commercial ties between Nigeria, Africa, and the USA.”
During the event, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of FirstBank Group, expressed his delight at the focus on the SME sector, emphasizing its importance as a cornerstone of Africa’s economic prosperity. He reaffirmed FirstBank’s commitment to supporting Africa’s development and SMEs’ growth, stating that Africa has a reliable partner in FirstBank.
Representing Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, President & Chairman of Afreximbank, Mrs. Kanayo Awani highlighted the significance of AITE’s platform in attracting global investments and policy support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. She urged leveraging this platform to foster partnerships, share ideas, and contribute to SME growth for Africa’s transformation.
Minister Festus Keyamo, responsible for Aviation and Aerospace Development in Nigeria, stressed the critical role of the aviation sector in facilitating the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area. He called for a robust African aviation policy and invited investors to explore opportunities in Nigeria.
Dr. Uzoka-Anite, representing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, encouraged Nigerians in the diaspora to invest in Nigeria, citing the nation’s prosperity, resilience, and welcoming spirit.
The A.I.T.E 2023 Business, Trade, and Investment Summit brought together leaders, entrepreneurs, and government officials from diverse sectors, fostering networking and providing a platform to showcase innovative products and services. The event, held alongside the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), aimed to promote economic advancement and cooperation beyond Africa.