Africa: Increased Intra-Africa Trade - the Game Changer for African Economies

23 January 2020

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday, at the 2020 Ghana Investment and Opportunities Summit in London, renewed his call on African nations to commit greater zeal and resources to trading among themselves.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the low level of intra-Africa trade, which stood at 17 per cent in 2017, would not build a sound foundation for the continent's prosperity.

The President pointed out that contemporary international business challenges require more vigorous business deals among African states, in the areas of technology, digitisation and industry to enhance their prosperity and also ensure the welfare of future generations.

"So, let us now think differently and position ourselves for serious business, rather than relying on the export of raw materials all the time", President Akufo-Addo told the Summit.

The above are consistent with the President's position on intra-Africa trade following the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018.

The AfCFTA which commits countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, aims to progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barrier.

The AfCFTA agreement, which would cover a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States, makes Africa the world's largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

Recent findings by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) revealed that when African countries trade among themselves, they exchange more manufactured and processed goods, have more knowledge transfer and create more value.

Already, the AfCFTA is complemented by continental initiatives, including the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment, and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The above protocols and initiatives must be explored to deepen trade among African member states because the people, member states and the continent as a whole, will be the utmost beneficiaries.

It is in this vein that the Ghanaian Times supports the President's call on African countries to commit more resources, both personnel and logistics, to make intra Africa trade a success.

We contend that trading among ourselves on the continent would be less expensive, less time consuming and would create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth on the continent compared to doing same with the rest of the world.

Imagine shipping a container of fabric from China to Ghana for example to doing same from Kenya? The charges would be lower and less time would be required of the goods to arrive here.

As a country which has been chosen to host the AfCFTA Secretariat, it is in our interest to support and pursue the agenda of President Akufo-Addo by calling on his colleagues around the continent to work for an improved intra-Africa trade regime.

Let us make it work.

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