President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged African business leaders to work diligently to pursue intra-African trade, stressing that the continent cannot afford to fail in that regard.
He said having set up the world’s largest trade area, since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), it is crucial for business leaders to champion intra-Africa trade in order to fast-track the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“I believe that the generation of African leaders led by the distinguished former President of the Republic of Niger, the outstanding AfCFTA champion, Mahamadou Issoufou, who have managed to bring the AfCFTA into being, will occupy a privilege place in the history of our continent as the generation of pioneer leaders who established the organization of our African unity which has now been transformed into the African Union (AU),” President Akufo-Addo said.
“We must now with great zeal and fortitude back this great ambition with our collective action to harness fully the benefits of a liberalized single market for goods and services. This must be our solemn and moral obligation to our continent, to our children, and to future generations,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo gave the charge when he addressed participants of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues at the session to climax the “Kwahu Summit” Peduase Lodge.
Illicit financial outflows
The President raised serious concerns about the issue of illicit outflows of money from the African continent and its obvious negative impact on the peoples of the continent.
He called for a concerted effort between African leaders and the business community to halt the phenomenon.
“We need to pay serious attention to and arrest illicit financial outflows out of the continent, which are estimated at about $88 billion annually, depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used to support our development agenda,” he said.
“We must urgently and collectively institute comprehensive and unambiguous tax policies to combat tax motivated illicit financial flows, strengthen legal and law enforcement systems, and bring together national agencies to stem such flows,” he added.
The President also called for concrete measures to stop the systemic impoverishment of the continent and the theft of its resources.
Speaking on the issue of transportation, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Airlines Group, Mesfin Tasew, said it is not possible for every African country to have and maintain its own national airline.
In his view, the AfCFTA cannot be successful without an efficient, affordable and accessible transportation system.
“Such a system is needed to transport people and goods through the involvement in the development of trade, tourism and investment in the continent,” he said.
He said air transport is the safest, fastest and more convenient means of transport for Africans within Africa, adding that air transport is very important for Africa’s socio-economic development but “unfortunately air transport has seen underdevelopment”.
He said “if we believe air transport is an important beacon to bring Africa prosperity to advance our ambition for the AfCFTA creation, then we have to identify the issues and the challenges of developing air transport in Africa.”
Mr Tasew highlighted some challenges facing the African air transport industry, saying “many African countries are still restricting permits to fly into those countries and inhibiting the free movement of people and goods”.
He noted that this is affecting African airlines, big or small.
He also mentioned tax as another issue that is affecting the growth of airlines in Africa. “In Africa, many countries believe that air transport is good for the rich and it has to be heavily taxed. For example, the airfare between Lome and Accra, 50% goes to development and other taxes. This has made air transport expensive to use in Africa compared to the rest of the world.”
He believes African governments must generate taxes for development, but those taxes must be reasonable.
Mr Tasew was of the view that for air transport to be self-efficient, there should be enough airport infrastructure across the continent. “There are a number of infrastructural issues that we have to address across the continent.”
The Africa Prosperity Dialogues (Kwahu Summit) is a strategic platform where the movers and shakers of the African economy will elevate the AfCTA objectives from ambitions to real actions.
The three-day summit was a one-of-a-kind event where African political and business leaders from diverse background gathered to discuss and share experiences on issues and initiatives required for Africa to achieve the goal of shared prosperity, and shape the Africa Agenda for Action.