• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Shettima wants Africa to prioritise intra-continental trade

Shettima flags off 26.8bn North-East Development Commission building in Borno

Vice President Kashim Shettima has called on African countries to prioritise intra-African trade over foreign investments that often exploit the continent’s resources.

Speaking at the Africa Economic Summit 2024, in Abuja, Shettima emphasised the need to boost African trade globally and within the continent itself.

“African nations remain at the base of the global index, meaning that we need to now go beyond looking for foreign investors to come and explore and exploit what they need for sophisticated manufactures from the deep underbellies of our motherland”, Shettima stated.

The vice president, who was represented by Tope Fasau, his special adviser on economic affairs, also urged African countries to incentivise their vast number of highly knowledgeable citizens around the world, especially those with exceptional expertise in science, technology, and the arts, to return and contribute to transforming the continent.

He highlighted the importance of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as a key initiative to enhance intra-African trade. However, Shettima noted that the implementation of AfCFTA has been slow and called for a renewed effort to accelerate its growth.

“African nations must understand that this is a mutually beneficial initiative,” he added.

Shettima urged African countries to aim for a rapid increase in the continent’s gross domestic product from the current $3.1 trillion to at least $6 trillion in the coming years. He also emphasised the need for per capita income to double, stressing the importance of inclusive economic growth.

He criticised the continent’s longstanding role as an exporter of raw materials, such as crude oil and minerals, which yield low value for its resources. He questioned the sustainability of the current situation where African countries face perennial balance of payment crises by exchanging raw materials for finished goods. “The clear answer is in the negative. Therefore, we need to change our approach and start thinking and acting differently,” he asserted.

“There is a need for this summit to explore ideas on how to promote trade and open our borders,” Shettima added. “Trade is crucial for African nations as it allows us to exchange our endowments and capabilities for what our people need, and it serves as a platform for interacting with the international community.”

In his address, Sam Ohuabunwa, the Africa Economic Summit 2024 president, decried that after 61 years of establishing the Organisation of Africa Unity (now African Union), and decades of regional economic blocs, intra-Africa has not shown any significant growth.

“It is very disturbing”, he said, adding that, “Even with the establishment of AfCFTA, intra-African trade is still unimpressive as Africa continues to contribute significantly to the growth of other regions while neglecting theirs.”

He noted that intra-Africa trade has only grown four percent over the last ten years. He further informed that the volume of intra-African trade was only about 14 percent, but in contrast, it is about 60 percent in Asia.