Akufo-Addo urges Africa to trade more with itself as AfCFTA is a game-changer

President Akufo-Addo

African countries trade least among themselves, and trade more with countries on other continents, and President Nana Akufo-Addo says it is therefore not an accident that Africa being the continent that trades least with itself is the poorest.

The President was speaking during a panel discussion at the opening of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, June 13, 2022.

He pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a game-changer for the continent, and urged improvement in the quality of cooperation among African states.

The AfCFTA came into force on January 1, 2021, it is aimed at creating the world’s largest single market with a population size of 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product estimated at $3.4 trillion.

He said there must be linkages in the private sector and education, and called on African countries to align their thinking.

Responding to how Africa can attain economic sovereignty, he said, “We have been talking about this for a long time. The conversations are not new. When I first came into office, I spoke about ‘Ghana beyond aid’. We need to create more jobs, focus on agriculture and deepen the path in our development,” he said.

“We must align our education to the job market,” he said, outlining among other things, reforms of state institutions to be supportive of the private sector as well as strengthening and supporting the private sector, he said, adding that Ghana’s public policy has been in the right direction, among others, developing human capital.

In his contributions the Vice-President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, indicated that African countries need to be self-sufficient in food production, and urged cooperation with the international tax system.

“While looking inward, we also need to look outside. We must recognise that the world has gone beyond brick and mortar,” he said.

On her part, Kate Kanyi-Tometi Fotso, the CEO of Telcar Cocoa said African countries must go beyond protecting their companies and regions and “start thinking about how to create bigger markets.”

Mr Makhtar Diop, the Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the co-host of the Forum said, to address food security, Africa must focus on the private sector, and urged African businesses to spread their investments to other countries.

“There must be that sense of urgency, replicability and volume,” he said.

Patrick Njoroge, the Governor of the central central bank of Kenya, called for attention to be given to the financial sector, because it is the sector that distributes the resources.

“The right financial sector is key, and we must ensure that business models are consistent with technology and aspirations of people,” he said.

The two-day forum being attended by some 1500 delegates from around the world is under the theme: Economic sovereignty, green growth and industrial transformation: New paths to African prosperity.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

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