President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African governments to work in unison, and adopt complementary strategic actions to unlocking the continent’s potential to ensure a robust intra-Africa trade to drive agricultural growth, economic diversification and the much-needed industrialization of the continent.
That, he indicated, had become necessary because Africa needs between $130 to $170billion annually to bridge the infrastructural gap, and generate sustainable growth of, at least, 5% per year. He added that “this presents an exceptional opportunity for private sector investments” to access that much funds as AfCFTA actors.
The President made the call when he addressed Heads of State and participants of the 7th Edition of the African Leadership Forum (ALF) yesterday at Kempinski Hotel in Accra, under the theme “Promoting intra-Africa trade to unlock agricultural potential in Africa”. It was organised by the UONGOZI Institute in collaboration with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
President Akufo-Addo urged colleague African leaders to step up commitment, and support the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement with all the boldness required to propel the continent to greater heights at all sectors.
Stressing the need for African leaders to hasten the process of continental integration, he noted that “we cannot allow our collective fate to be decided by exogenous shocks of thousands and thousands miles away from the continent”
“Time is well overdue for Africa and Africans to define our own narrative. We must be defined by what we see in ourselves and not by what others choose to say about us,” he stated.
The President, however, said this cannot happen if Africa fails to trade among itself since the continent accounts for only 3% for global trade and intra-African trade, and considered one of the lowest of any region globally.
He attributed this largely to the colonial economic module characterised by small individual economies, fragmental and disconnected regional markets, overreliance of production of export of primary commodities, and the presence of low productive capacities, which have been in existence for the last centuries.
He noted that Africa needs coherent and complementary strategic actions by governments and businesses, the right mix of policies and strategies for exports, value addition to raw commodities and a greater sense of purpose to achieve this transformative agenda.
The President indicated: “We must consolidate the successes so far, and with a sense of urgency, develop the solutions needed deepen intra-Africa trade and spur impact investment needed to bring prosperity to the continent and her people. And we must do this with fearless determination, then we shall put Africa to work and repudiate the recent culture of failure. We shall then take our rightful place in the world”.
“As the adage goes ‘there’s strength in unity’…And for all 54 member states of the Africa Union (AU), we have the strength, largely in our numbers. Cumulatively, we have a population of 1.3billion, majority of whom are young people, and with possession of collective GDP of some $3trillion, making us collectively the 8th largest economy in the world,” he added.
This, he noted, positions Africa exponentially as an extremely attractive investment destination, capable of sustaining economic growth, and creating job opportunities for the youth of the continent.
The President said the AfCFTA is undeniably a major “game changer”, and once it is fully realised, Africa would increase intra-Africa trade by $35billion and reduce external imports by $10billion yearly.
This, he emphasised, would create more opportunities for growth of small businesses and the potential to lift some 30million people out of extreme poverty.
The President noted that the successful AfCFTA would mean that Africa’s industrial exports would be diversified, thus moving away from its due reliance on extractive commodities and foreign imports.
“Indeed, for a continent in possession of the third of the world’s arable lands, the potential to create prosperity through agriculture is immense. The 50% of our people engage in the sector. We must, first of all, move away from being mere producers of exporters of raw agricultural produce and add value to our agriculture.
“Not only will we be able to increase our earnings from agriculture, but we will also position countries in the continent to be able to deal with price hikes and shocks caused by global events. And this will see many African countries transition to this point. It will also serve as a major economic boost for Africa women, majority of whom make up the agricultural workforce,” the President indicated.
Present during the forum included Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Dr. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, former President of the Republic of Tunisia; Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Thomas Boni Yayi, former President of the Republic of Benin.
The rest were Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia; Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; and Uhuru Muigai Kenyata, former President of the Republic of Kenya.
Other delegates were leaders from all parts of the continent and from a range of professions in government, business, academia and civil society.
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