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Obasanjo calls for stronger intra-African trade

By Helen Oji
17 November 2021   |   3:40 am
Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on African countries to explore opportunities within the continent and boost intra African trade, which is rated low at 15 per cent.

Obasanjo. Photo; NAIRAMETRICS

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on African countries to explore opportunities within the continent and boost intra African trade, which is rated low at 15 per cent.

Obasanjo made the call yesterday, at the Nigerian Pavilion of the Intra African Trade Fair 2021 in Durban, South Africa. He expressed concern that the share of intra-African trade in Africa’ s total trade had remained low over the past decade compared to 65 per cent recorded in Europe.

Intra-Africa trade accounted for 15 per cent of Africa’s total trade in 2018 and 2019. Over the last 10 years intra-Africa trade has remained low, the highest was recorded in 2015 and 2016 with 19 per cent and 20 per cent of total trade.

Obasanjo, who is also the chairman of the Intra-African Trade Fair Advisory Council, insisted that if Africans could maximise opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the total trade could increase by more than 65 per cent in the near future.

He said the AfCFTA aspires to connect all the regions of Africa, to deepen economic integration and to boost intra-African trade and investment.

It also provides an opportunity for the continent to achieve economic emancipation and self-reliance through the creation of a single market of about 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion across 55 countries.

Therefore, he called for the removal of barriers and disincentive to African trade growth and the establishment of a certification centre to enhance the standard of export products within the region.

“Trade is the blood of economic growth, development and progress. We need to know how to do this particularly for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and we need to be persistent and consistent.”

“We need to address all the things that could draw us back; establish a certification centre so that we can say our products are of standard whenever we are exporting within the region”, he added.

He assured that he would continue to promote and improve the value of regional trade and ensure that African countries are well repositioned to attract investment.