African leaders must deepen intra-African trade — Togbe Afede

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Togbe Afede XIV (right), Paramount Chief, Asogli Traditional Area, addressing the meeting. With him is Ms Jane Reindorf-Attoh
Togbe Afede XIV (right), Paramount Chief, Asogli Traditional Area, addressing the meeting. With him is Ms Jane Reindorf-Attoh

The Paramount Chief of the Asogli Traditional Area, Togbe Afede XIV, has observed that the solution to Africa’s under-development lies in the ability of countries on the continent to build strong trade relations with one another.

According to him, the rising poverty and high unemployment on the continent must awaken African leaders to work towards increasing the continent’s share of world trade.

Togbe Afede, who is also the Chairman of the World Trade Centre, Accra, made the comment when addressing a meeting of members of the African Diplomatic Corps on September 19 in Accra.

He noted that Africa accounted for about 30 per cent of all known mineral reserves of the world and also 20 per cent of the world’s landmarks.

However, Africa accounted for about two per cent of world trade and two per cent of total gross domestic product (GDP).

Given the low level of trade among African countries, compared with the rest of the world, Togbe Afede bemoaned why the situation was so when there was enormous potential for the continent to deepen trade ties to make it prosperous.

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He said breaking the frontiers of intra-African trade was needed to propel the African continent to higher economic growth and development.

He observed that the continent should also be able to learn lessons from trade reforms in developed and emerging economies to guide its path towards growth.

WTC concept

Beyond that, Togbe Afede asked countries in Africa to use the World Trade Centre (WTC) concept to promote trade among themselves.

He explained that extending the concept to 30 African countries, for instance, was crucial to help promote intra-African trade which was presently hovering around 18 per cent.

The WTC is an apolitical organisation that can be located in many countries across the world, but presently the centre is more functional in only two African countries, Ghana and Algeria.

It supplies businesses with access to international trade services and facilities and seeks to simplify and simulate trade by bringing together the offices of government and industry that serve and carry out trade.

Although the WTCs vary from country to country, they are all connected as part of the World Trade Centre Association (WTCA).

Promoting private partnership

For her part, the Managing Director of WTC Accra, Ms Jane Reindorf-Attoh, indicated that WTC Accra was coordinating activities within the private sector space to form partnerships with other African countries to promote trade.

“There are a number of regional trade agreements, such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Continental Free Trade Agreement, among many others. However, it is up to the private sector to take advantage of these policies to enable them to explore their full potential,” she said.

She added that WTC Accra would continue to support businesses in the country to build their capacity to grow and take advantage of opportunities in other countries.