The recovery of global trade will depend on the extent to which businesses harness existing business opportunities to boost their operations, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of First National Bank, Dominic Adu, has said.
He said the growth opportunities that the COVID-19 had brought were closer than businesses "think and might be closer to their doorstep."
Mr Adu said COVID-19 undoubtedly had put the brakes on trade all over the world, and Africa wasn't insulated from this pandemic-driven fallout.
'"But much of the world is now on track towards recovering from the economic impacts of the virus, which means it's time for businesses to shake off the difficulties and constraints that understandably became the norm in 2020 and 2021, and make the decision to take back their success," he said.
Mr Adu said the global economicrecovery would be gradual and there was the possibility of more waves of COVID-19.
He said the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would likely have a long-term impact on many economies across the world.
"Yes, the Russia-Ukraine conflict poses many challenges on the global economic stage. However, the direct loss of trade value and volumes are not hugely significant," he said.
The CEO of First National Bank, saidbusinesses should view the economic and logistics challenges of the past two years as a reminder of the unique opportunity to grow their businesses.
"If there's one lesson that organisations and industries inAfrica can, and should, be taking from the international trade repercussions of the conflict and the massive offshore logistics bottlenecks created by COVID-19 lockdowns, it is that, through it all, Africa has essentially stayed open for business," he said.
Mr Adu stressed "And until we recognise the value that exists for us to tap into right here on the African continent, we will remain at the mercy of global events that should not, in reality, be causing our businesses to suffer the way they currently do."
He indicated that the African continent currently only had around 17 per cent intra-continental trade, as opposed to the 65 per cent intra-trade in Europe and approximately 55 per cent in Asia.
"This presents countries in Africa with a huge opportunity to start looking at their immediate neighbours as trade partners, and to start developing strategies for intra-African trade that help to retain African capital on the continent. African businesses urgently need to recognise the massive potential they have to secure the growth and sustainability of their operations," said Mr Adu.
He said businesses should shed perception that the keys to their success lied exclusively in the hands of overseas markets.
Mr Adu called on African governments to initiate strategies to promote the businesses competitiveness of the continent to attract more trade and investment.
"The quickest way to address the trade challenges in Africa is to ensure we are serious about building our intra Africa trade," he explained, "and that includes locating or creating trade opportunities across the continent, getting involved in forums and organisations that have a mandate to prompt investment and policy reforms by African governments, and making sure that discussions about intra-Africa trade are standing items on the agendas of every company board meeting."