Ethiopian Airlines lands in Barbados with delegates for inaugural conference
Barbados on Wednesday hosted its first direct Ethiopian Airlines flight from Lagos, Nigeria, which was specially organized to bring delegates to the inaugural AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ATIF2022) who officials hope will will mean new opportunities and investments for businesses here.
The flight landed at Grantley Adams International Airport around 10.30am with 103 passengers, including delegates and media personnel, on board.
More than 1,000 people registered for the September 1-3 forum, co-hosted by the Government of Barbados and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, called ATIF2022 revolutionary, noting that it marked the beginning of a new relationship between the African continent and Barbados and the Caribbean.
She said the conference will provide Barbados-based businesses with a wider market to offer their products and services.
“What that does is it helps us diversify our reliance on a purely south-north program, which means if you have all your products aimed at a select group of markets and you have a restricted group of products, then you are very vulnerable. to anything that happens to a product or a market,” Husbands said.
“By diversifying to include Africa and looking to places like Latin America, all of this helps us build the resilience of the Barbadian economy because you spread your risk across many markets.”
Minister Husbands noted that Export Barbados (BIDC) is considering diversifying the number of products Barbados has to offer for export in a bid to increase the island’s foreign exchange earning capacity.
“That’s why this particular event is important. What it does seeks to bring from across Africa, with CARIFORUM [the Caribbean Forum] and CARICOM [Caribbean Community] countries, people who want to do business together,” she said.
During the three-day conference, a number of investment opportunities in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean, as well as opportunities in Africa, are expected to be presented to potential investors and business operators from both regions.
The husbands said that instead of focusing on what the region can get from their relations with North America and Europe, the focus must now be on how CARICOM states can put pool their resources and penetrate new markets in Africa.
She said while she looked forward to seeing a regular air link between Africa and Barbados, it would depend on demand that could be created by sharing information about the Caribbean in Africa.
“The second thing we need to do is start creating community engagement. That means we’re looking at school exchanges, using technology to get communities talking to each other and culturally engaging, because unless you’re doing the engagement on the ground, all the planning by the decision-makers and the representatives government will not translate into active business. These are people who need to know each other, trust each other and be exposed to each other’s culture and possessions,” she explained.
“It will be part of the program going forward – to create the energy for people to want to fly and to be able to transport goods, and then that will power the crowd you need. . . to make it viable,” she said.
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Managing Director Jens Thraenhart said he was delighted to see the first direct flight from Africa, saying it marked the start of a new tourism relationship between Barbados and the country. ‘Africa.
“I think this conference is of fundamental importance in strengthening these ties,” he added.
Thraenhart was unable to say how soon the island might see regular flights from the African mainland, but said talks were underway.
“With us, it’s by making sure we can articulate our value proposition in our narrative that airlines will see the value of coming to Barbados,” he said.
The CEO of BTMI said that during the conference, tourism officials will engage delegates from Africa on tourism-related opportunities.