Establish effective supply chain to enable continental trading "Wamkele Mene to professionals"
The Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has said Africa needs to establish an effective supply chain that is truly continental to enable trading across the regions on the continent.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine was a wake-up call that Africa could no longer continue to rely on the global supply chain.
Mr Mene was speaking at the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Africa Sustainable Supply Chain Summit which was held on the theme, “Sustainable supply chain for economic growth in Africa”.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine crisis had brought discussions on supply chain sustainability to the fore and questions had to be asked about how the AfCFTA would enable the African continent to respond to the crisis in the long term.
“During the pandemic, many African countries had supply chain challenges, some of which were the result of externalities, dependence on global supply chain, and dependence on imports from outside the continent.
“Similarly, the Russian invasion has rippling effects across the African continent, particularly in the area of food security, sustainability of agricultural produce and the movement of agricultural produce across the continent,” he stated.
He said those two crisis shed light on Africa’s reliance on foreign trading partners.
“We, therefore, need to establish supply chain networks and technologies that will enable the continent to trade among itself and provide food security.
“We should establish the tools and requisite investments that will enable Africa to be self-sustainable, particularly in the area of agriculture and agro processing,” he noted.
The Secretary-General also pointed out that Africa’s infrastructure deficit might derail its objective to double intra Africa trade by 2035.
He said estimates from the African Development Bank (AfDB) suggested that the continent needed between $130 billion to $150 billion annually to solve its infrastructure deficit.
“Without adequate infrastructure that supports trade, we will not be able to double intra African trade by 2035 which is our objective,” he stated.
He said while the AfDB and the Afreximbank had over the years made significant investments to solve the infrastructure challenge, more still needed to be done to support the supply chains that would drive and power Africa’s growth
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Michael Okyere Baafi, said industries in Ghana and the government had vigorously invested in innovative technology to enhance supply chain efficiency and maintain competitiveness.
He said Ghana ratified the AfCFTA before it came into force and as such, the country had a duty to ensure the agreement worked for the good of businesses and the people on the continent.,
He pointed out that Ghana was one of Africa’s leading trade and logistics hub and had achieved encouraging success in this sector due to its unique geographical location, efficient infrastructure, and well-trained and highly skilled workforce.
“This success cannot be sustained if we are not connected to efficient supply chains on the continent.
With our collective effort, we can surely identify areas where we can do better to sustain supply chains for economic growth.
“So sustainable supply chains for economic growth in Africa is a very timely theme for this summit, especially at a time when supply chain disruptions have impacted negatively on the global economy,” he said.
Fully sustainable supply chain
President of the Africa Investment Group and Chairman of the Planning Committee of the Summit, Dr Sam Ankrah, in his welcome address said a fully sustainable supply chain was one that ensured socially responsible business practices.
He said those practices were not only good for the planet and the people who lived in it, but also supported business growth.
He said while there was a common misconception that reducing the environmental impact of a business came at a cost, a sustainable supply chain tried to transmit goods as cheaply and quickly as possible to the upstream supply chain or end customers while reducing or eliminating negative environmental and social impacts.
“At ICC, we work with purpose for people and our planet. We serve and mobilise a global network of more than 45 million businesses in over 170 countries.
We level the global playing field through strong advocacy, transparent standard-setting and effective dispute resolution.
“We extend the reach and capacity of entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes, from small start-ups to established industry leaders.
We set the gold standard for effective business through our vast experience, expertise, and network,” he stated.