First Annual Pan African Global Trade Conference Hosted by CSU Dominguez Hills
California State University, Dominguez Hills hosted the First Annual Pan African Global Trade Conference on Oct. 21-22 in the Loker Student Union, co-sponsored by the university’s California African American Political and Economic Institute (CAAPEI) and the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce. The conference’s theme, “Unifying Africa and the African Diaspora through International Trade & Commerce” was presented along with the 25th Annual African Marketplace in an effort to promote and facilitate bilateral trade, commerce and investment between the U.S., the African Diaspora and the nation states of Africa.
Dr. Munashe Furusa, acting associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and the executive director of CAAPEI, said he is grateful to the students, faculty, staff and members of the campus community who made the conference a success.
“As a result of their support and participation we were able to successfully host the two- day conference that provided important information about trade and commerce between Africa and the African Diaspora for small business owners and students,” said Furusa.
Panels were presented on topics such as “Small Business Export Opportunities to Africa,” which honed in on key issues related to conducting successful bilateral small business transactions with African businesses and government, including Joint Venture Business Opportunities, Trade Leads and Negotiations, Risk Management Assessment, and Understanding Business Cultures.
“Our goal is to support the development of emerging economies by developing bilateral trade relationships and increasing bilateral foreign direct investment between Africans in the Diaspora and the African continent,” said Al Washington, conference co-organizer and director of the California Community Connection Corporation. “The conference enabled us to provide important information about participating in trade and commerce with African and the African Diaspora for small business owners and students who were exposed to current business opportunities in Nigeria, South Africa, Liberia, and participated in business roundtables to discuss and recommend programs to develop important international initiatives.”
Mary Flowers, is the CEO of Sturdi-Quick International, a company that distributes and designs high quality prefabricated structures and has clients around the world, including those in Belize, Cameroon, and Nigeria. She said that she helped to put the conference together because of the need to bring an awareness to Americans of “the huge upsides and opportunities that Africa currently has, while we ourselves are going through an economical downturn.”
“I had some of my clients fly in from Africa to attend, so that Americans could interact with real people from Africa who have active projects and real time project opportunities,” she said. “This has helped to dispel many of the myths each culture has for one another. It has put both sides at ease, and opened many eyes. I look forward to next year’s conference and to hopefully hear more success stories of trading together from our small and medium business enterprises.”
The conference also showcased projects by agencies such as the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority of Nigeria, which is building a complete new international standard city and showed how California can provide many of the tangible and technological resources. An American development company, Casa Hotels (CASA), showcased a plan to develop a new chain of limited service, business oriented hotels in South Africa as well as other countries throughout the continent. CASA has conducted extensive research on the African limited service hotel market and has concluded that existing hotels in the African market are not well designed, offer small guest room accommodations, lack basic amenities and provide operating service levels far below acceptable international standards. This void in the marketplace offers an excellent opportunity for an experienced hotel developer and operator such as CASA to capitalize on developing a chain of well-designed hotels.
“CASA Hotels believes conferences like the Pan African Trade Conference will help make people more aware of opportunities in Africa and why emerging markets are so important in a global economy,” said Yatish Nathraj, Research & Development, CASA Hotels. “Without a gathering of intellectual minds on common interests such as Pan Africa, emerging markets will continually be misrepresented as well as misunderstood if we don’t take the time to educate ourselves on why places like Africa are the next frontier.”
Other event partners included The Port of Los Angeles, Xerox, Greater Port Hartcourt City Development Authority, the California Crusader News, the Los Angeles Minority Business Opportunity Center, the Foreign Trade Association, Golden Bird Chicken, the Consulate General of Belize, Trend Corp, and Masterson PR.
For more information on the California African American Political and Economic Institute at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.
- Fredwill Hernandez
Photos above: A panel on Pan African tourism. L-R: Anderson Hitchcock, Juneteenth Industries; James Burks, The African Marketplace Inc.; Charles Anyiam, editor-in-chief, African Times- USA; and Veno Nathraj, partner, CASA Hotels LLC
Mitch Maki, acting associate vice president of Academic Programs, welcomes guests to the conference.
Aurelio Marquez, program & communications manager, Minority Business Opportunity Center, City of Los Angeles
Photos by Fredwill Hernandez