Africa can only grow through improved intra-regional trade

by Trust Matsilele 0

Intra-Africa trade is currently at 12 per cent which is very low compared to other regions of the world; this is according to the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Fatima Haram Acyl.

Speaking to CNBC Africa at the African Development Week, Haram Acyl said there was a need to increase trade urging politicians to go beyond political rhetoric.

“Africa’s trade with the rest of the world is also marginal as it is at three per cent. The intra-Africa trade is very low compared to other regions. In Europe the intra-regional trade is about 60 per cent while in Asia, it is around 40 per cent,” she said.

The African Union Commission for Trade and Industry is also launching the Africa Regional Integration Index report that speaks to the trade trends within the region.

According to statistics, over 80 per cent of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the European Union (EU), China and the US.

“It is important to increase our intra-African trade as it can help us to diversify our economies. This will call on us to ease our cross border trade,” said the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry.

The World Bank recently advised African leaders to expand access to trade finance and reduce behind-the-border trade restrictions such as excessive regulations and weak legal systems.

“Everybody knows that Africa is endowed with mineral resources but the problem is we are not realising our own strengths,” added Haram Acyl.

Haram Acyl also said, if Africa continues trading on raw commodities and not create any jobs through value addition, the region will continue being the continent with small economies.