There is no better way to boost growth in the African economy if African nations ignore the homegrown opportunities that stir us in the face. Intra-African trade can help to foster development and also help in poverty alleviation in the continent.
“In 2014 in Europe, for example, 69% of exports were to other countries on the continent. In Asia, that figure stood at 52% and in North America at 50%. Africa had the lowest level of intra-regional trade, at just 18%.” – Report
The concept of boosting the trade amongst African nations has not been set in motion as much as it has been preached. It is always a welcome idea but the policies to make it a reality is rather low or even not there at all. Intra-trade might be all that we need to tighten and deepen the integration of all African nations.
To make this happen there a quite a number of things that should be put in place before the intra-trade idea is boosted for good. Such amenities are broadly categorized under the energy and transportation sector. The energy and transportation sector of some countries hinder potential co-operations from other nations. If these are fixed, much more opportunities will be open to such African nations.
To begin with, how many African nations are manufacturing nations? This is an important aspect to consider.
In almost one century after the invention of electric bulbs, Africa still lacks electricity. Records say that less than 30% of Africans have electricity access. In any case many African investors and entrepreneurs are delving into the use of solar energy. So we can hopefully say that African electricity access is a work in progress.
On the other hand, the means to travel to the neighboring counties are not always there. If there are more reliable and inexpensive transportation networks, intra-African trade would have been a success by now.
It will make more sense that regional trading in Africa is patronized first. ECOWAS is an example of the idea of trading with each other. There are several other African trade blocs but they are not functional because they are not empowered and sustained. As expected in regional trades, the countries work on a mutual level. Each country produces what the other nation consumes. Sadly UN spots the lack of this in Africa.
“It (Africa) produces what it doesn’t consume and consumes what it doesn’t produce.”
As a desperate measure to better the economy, most African nations are blinded by the pursuit of foreign investments. Logically, these nations have more to offer financially. However the benefits are nothing compared to the potentials of a sound intra-trade network within Africa.
Internet access and connectivity is yet another factor to consider. As globalization takes over, there is need for a more tech-friendly Africa. Through the internet, a wider business reach is ensured.
In 2014 when the President of the United States was in Africa he made mention of the need for an intra-African trade. While addressing the African Union he said,
“So many Africans have told me, we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress.” – Obama