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Boosting intra-African trade crucial for Africa’s inclusive development- Machage

Wilfred Machage, high commissioner of Kenya to Nigeria has said that African countries need to boost trade relationships with each other to accelerate the growth and development of the continent.

Machage said this at the Africa Day celebration of the 35th edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

“It is sad to note that our intra-African trade has for a very long time stagnated at about 15 percent, this is low compared to levels in Europe and Asia at 69 percent and 59 percent respectively,” Muchage said.

Machage who was represented by Lydia Musyoki, deputy director, Foreign Service at the Kenya high commission added that following the hard impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, activities in key sectors have dwindled however it presents opportunities to explore other options.

“We, therefore, encourage investors to take advantage of emerging opportunities available in the manufacturing sector, universal healthcare, food and nutritional security, and provision of affordable housing,” he said.

The high commissioner also mentioned the significance of business meetings and events such as the LITF, noting that it is strategic in connecting businesses and building trade relationships.

He added that Kenya and Nigeria have various instruments in place to guide and nurture a cordial and excellent bilateral diplomatic relationship.

“Kenya looks forward to working closely with Nigeria exchange programs geared towards developing talents in sports, tourism, and hospitality, similarly Kenya could learn from Nigeria’s processes,” he said.

Toki Mabogunje, president of LCCI said the Africa day celebration themed boosting intra-African trade is specifically designed to showcase Africa’s potentials and promote innovations in goods, services, science, and technology.

Read also: LCCI partners Gree to boost China-Nigeria trade relations

“We believe that Intra-African trade, networking, capacity building, and technology transfer are critical to facilitating the integration of African economies,” she said.

She added that it is also part of efforts by the LCCI to support the vision of African leaders in deepening intra-Africa trade, fast rack industrialization, and actualizing integration of the economies in the continent.

Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mabogunje said the trade agreement has the potential to accelerate the socio-economic development of the African continent with data projecting that Africa’s economic size could rise to $6.7 trillion by 2030 with AfCFTA.

“We are of the firm belief that a well-implemented AfCFTA will stimulate economic growth through linkage opportunities in trade, commerce, and industry to generate job opportunities, and help to facilitate the economic diversification of African economies.”

Despite its prospect, she noted that critical parts of the agreement Such as the schedules of tariff concessions and service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy, and intellectual property rights are yet to be finalized and should be addressed promptly.

“There are concerns about the adherence of participating countries to the protocols within the AfCFTA framework, as well as the lack of clarity on the type of value-added activity that is valid under the trade agreement provisions,” she said.

Mabogunje recommended that there is a need to sensitize and enlighten Nigerian businesses on the implementation modalities, while a sound legal framework to support its implementation is established.

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