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UN Co-Sponsors First Afrasia Business Council

UN Development Programme Co-Sponsors First Afrasia Business Council

With African exports to Asia having increased markedly in a decade, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has helped to launch the AFRASIA Business Council (AABC) in Mauritius to help local entrepreneurs across the continent take greater advantage of global opportunities.

"UNDP is at the forefront of helping Africa to cultivate and nurture partnerships that are conducive to socio-economic development," Abdoulie Janneh, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA), said of the two-day meeting which ends today.

"Our corporate agenda of fighting poverty and creating partnerships for sustainable development through policy advice and development of capacities in priority areas is at the origin of proposing the establishment of the AFRASIA Business Council," he said.

African exports to Asia went up from $6.7 billion in 1990 to $17.2 billion in 2000, UNDP said.

The launch, co-sponsored by the Government of Mauritius and the Government of Japan, with input from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), followed up on the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) held in 2003.

AABC's goals include helping small and medium African companies improve their performance, market value and competitive edge in national, regional and international markets and showing small business owners the principles, processes and tools that international enterprises use for successful ventures, UNDP said.

AABC's Web portal, "AFRASIA Exchange," provides a virtual marketplace for investment and technology opportunities, while the initial AFRASIA Exchange desks are based in Cotonou, Benin, Douala, Cameroon, and Accra, Ghana, it said.

Additional AFRASIA exchange desks would be set up in Congo, India, Malaysia, South Africa and Tanzania in 2005, it added.

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