One theme is resounding throughout the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) 2023 in Cairo, Egypt: the need for Africa to unite, prioritize growth, and eliminate self-imposed barriers to achieve its industrialization goals.
Speaking on realising Africa’s growth agenda through the energy transition, Dr. Ainojie Irune, Executive Director, Oando PLC and Chief Operating Officer, Oando Energy Resources, urged governments to be impatient with Africa’s development, emphasizing the importance of energy transition in achieving its growth agenda.
In a session themed ‘African Energy Transition and African Industrialisation’, Dr. Irune highlighted Africa’s abundant resources and potential for a successful energy transition, emphasizing the continent’s blessings throughout the value chain.
“We sit on a continent that is truly blessed across the entire value chain and has everything needed to ensure that the energy transition for Africa serves its people.
“Africa is home to 39% of the world’s renewable energy potential, yet is impoverished. A continent that is unable to feed its people, and educate its people, must think, first, about survival, just like the rest of the world. So, we must get impatient about developing our continent together.
“Our governments need to get serious, collaborate between regions, and establish the required policies internally and externally to drive; not just trade, but the development of industries that would create the wealth we need to embark on the energy transition. Africa is the final frontier. We have a responsibility to design what we desire,” he said.
Alongside a diverse group of panellists, Dr. Irune discussed intra-Africa trade challenges and proposed solutions for regional cooperation, emphasizing the need to address tourism and business issues within Africa.
He highlighted the need for regional cooperation in Africa, but noted that the issue of intra-Africa travel for tourism and business remains unresolved. But, what is to be done?
“To challenge the current tide against us, we have to look within, starting from our governance and policies. If we come together and throw our weight behind our agenda as a continent, we would become a powerful bloc to be reckoned with across the world. We need to build a consciousness that recognises the fact that everything we require to develop Africa is already within, ” Dr Irune said.
Intra-African trade currently makes up only 15% of the continent’s total trade, compared to 58% in Asia and 67% in Europe.
As the new continental market emerges, so do opportunities. But those opportunities will not be to the benefit of Africans if African markets are not connected to create economies of scale.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) serves as a global economic shock absorber, enabling Africa to accelerate its efforts through intra-African trade.
The AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade by 52.3% by 2025, increase Africa’s income by up to $450 billion by 2035, and alleviate 30 million Africans from extreme poverty.