African countries can create $2.3 trillion economy by increasing trade – Songwe

Vera Songwe – ECA

African countries can grow the economy of the continent if they increase trade, Dr. Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said.

Dr. Songwe who was speaking at the opening of the Regional Trade Forum for West and Central Africa in the Senegalese capital, Dakar Monday June 24, 2019, noted that to create an economy of $2.3 trillion, African countries must increase trade by at least 50 per cent.

She pointed out that the countries must diversify their economies to create jobs and enterprises must be able to satisfy local consumption for a 1.2 billion market.

Citing Senegal, she asked why the country for instance imports maize from Brazil.

Dr. Songwe indicated further that considering the cotton industry for instance, African countries should be able to create internal value chains.

President Macky Sall

“Cotton should be transformed internally as finished goods. When Africa adds value, we create more jobs and reduce poverty,” she said.

Noting the lack of energy on the continent, she stated that not long ago, 590 million Africans were without energy, but now that figure has shot up to 630 million people.

In his remarks, President Macky Sall of Senegal urged African countries to work to strengthen infrastructure of commercialization like building more roads, make their borders efficient and build more rail systems.

“We must change our paradigm,” he said, and pursue best practices of efficiency and transparency among others, he added.

The two-day Forum is being held under the theme: “AfCFTA in motion: Taking Africa’s integration to the next level for a prosperous continent”, is to highlight the African Continental Free Trade Area which will be launched in Niamey, Niger in July.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Dakar, Senegal

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