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World Trade Conference focuses on opportunities in Africa

MOBILE, Alabama – Several high-profile speakers will discuss business opportunities in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa at the World Trade Conference on April 21-22 at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort & Spa in Point Clear.

The conference, presented by the Gulf Coast Trade Alliance, focuses on strategies for entering promising African markets and includes interactive panel sessions and one-on-one counseling sessions. Cost is $225 and conference registration is open through Thursday, April 16.

Featured keynote speaker Mninwa J. Mahlangu, the South African ambassador to the U.S., will discuss the region’s political climate and consumer growth. Mahlangu has represented his country in many international platforms, including the United Nations and G20 Speakers Conferences.

Other speakers who are experts on Africa include:

  • Chamberlain Eke, senior commercial specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service in Nigeria
  • Patrick Griswold, president and founder of Why Africa Now!, a consulting firm in Kenya and Tanzania
  • David Newton, economic and commercial officer with the U.S. Embassy in Lomé, Togo
  • Brent Omdahl, deputy senior commercial officer with the U.S. Commercial Service in Johannesburg


Alabama companies exported nearly $320 million in goods to African nations in 2014, an increase of more than 8 percent from the previous year. Most of those Alabama exports, more than $216 million, went to South Africa. Top Alabama products being shipped to Africa include vehicles, mineral fuel, chemicals, industrial machinery and aircraft parts.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is an attractive emerging market and helping companies get their foot in the door early could help them be successful in the long run,” said Hilda Lockhart, director of the International Trade Division of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “While trade to these countries is limited, we know that there is great potential.”

Lockhart is among the speakers and panelists from the Gulf Coast region who will appear at the World Trade Conference.

The Mobile Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the two-day event with the Gulf Coast Trade Alliance, which unites government and non-profit business organizations from Alabama, Northwest Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Alabama Department of Commerce, which will lead a trade mission later this year to South Africa and Tanzania, is among the sponsors of the conference.

Conference participants can schedule one-on-one appointments with commercial specialists to address specific issues and explore strategies for entering these emerging markets. Appointments will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

To schedule an appointment with Omdahl, Eke or Newton, contact Christina Stimpson, director of international trade for the Mobile chamber, at 251-431-8648 or

REMINDER: Registration is open through Thursday, April 16.

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