Take advantage of AfCFTA to grow businesses - President urges African nations
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African nations to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to increase trade among themselves to ensure the prosperity of their respective countries.
He said the trade area would lead to increase in intra-African trade by $35 billion and reduce external imports by $10 billion yearly.
It would also create more opportunities for the growth of small businesses with the potential to lift some 30 million people out of extreme poverty.
President Akufo-Addo was addressing the 7th African Leadership Forum in Accra yesterday which also coincided with the 60th anniversary celebration of the creation of the AU.
The forum is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1988 by former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to help improve the quality of leadership in Africa while training the next generation of leaders for the continent.
It was organised by AfCFTA and UONGOZI Institute, an NGO, on the theme: “Promoting intra-Africa trade to unlock agricultural potential in Africa”.
Participants comprised of leaders from various organisations on the continent, including a former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn; two former Presidents of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Patron of the ALF who is also a former President of Tanzania, Dr Jakaya Kikwete.
President Akufo-Addo said that a successful AfCFTA would mean Africa’s industrial exploits would be diversified from undue reliance on extractive commodities and foreign imports.
He added that the continent had immense potential for prosperity through agriculture, saying with 50 per cent of the people engaged in the sector, it had the potential to increase intra-African trade, meet local demands, grow GDP and create jobs.
“If we are to realise this, we must first of all move away from the exportation of raw products to value addition to our produce,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo expressed appreciation over the increasing number of African countries transitioning from importation to exportation of finished goods which he said was a major economic boost for African women who formed the majority of the agricultural workforce.
“Unlocking Africa's agricultural potential will help mobilise the requisite amount of financing needed to help develop the continent,” the President added.
On infrastructural development, President Akufo-Addo said that Africa required between $130 billion and $170 billion annually to bridge the gap in the sector to generate sustainable growth of at least five per cent per year.
He, however, said that AFCFTA had set the stage for Africa's industrialisation and transformation agenda and that what was required now was for the respective governments and businesses to show bold leadership.
“We need 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 ensure a robust intra-African trade to drive agricultural growth, economic diversification and the much-needed industrialisation of the continent,” the President said.
The Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, also said that it was imperative to accelerate trade in agriculture because it would create job opportunities for the youth and also improve the situation of rural communities and smallholder farmers.