African leaders take on a proactive approach to intra-Africa trade - CNBC Africa

African leaders take on a proactive approach to intra-Africa trade

Special Report

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Market day in Djenne, Mali. PHOTO: Getty Images

These were the views expressed by most African leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Nigeria.

“There was a collective consensus among African leaders on the topic of mobility in Africa, as well as the importance of efficient border and visa policies. We have seen good follow-up particularly in East Africa and it is imperative to continue to work on the border and customs environment to grow intra-Africa trade,” said Charles Brewer, managing director of international express service, DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

(READ MORE: DHL invests in West Africa air infrastructure)

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Moussa Mara of Mali, have all signed the Call to Action on Travel Facilitation & Talent Mobility, which urges all African states to work together towards the establishment of joint policies and the removal of barriers to facilitate the movement of people.

(WATCH VIDEO: Cross border trade settlement)

Another highlight from the forum, Brewer added, was that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are being increasingly recognised as the primary drivers of economic growth in Africa.

“A growing SME base will create thousands of new jobs, which is an absolute must for this ever-growing continent, as it is a critical driver of sustainable economic growth,” he said.

SMEs however face a number of infrastructure challenges, custom regulations and controls. Brewer believes that African leaders have showed their seriousness on overcoming these obstacles.

(READ MORE: Intra-Africa trade still hampered by infrastructure deficit)

“The fact that world leaders have recognised these issues and put actions in place towards easing the difficulties experienced can only bode well for future business development and success on the continent.”

(READ MORE: WEF's new infrastructure programme to boost intra-Africa trade)

“Infrastructure is vital for connecting regions and by improving this, the number of investments within Africa will grow exponentially, creating further opportunities for its people.”

Brewer believes that the WEF meeting was a success as a general consensus has been reached among all representatives.

“We walk away from the meeting feeling positive, having witnessed various influential leaders from business, government, civil society and academia, all having similar views of facilitating trade on the continent,” he concluded.